Tribal Tattoos: History and Style
Tribal tattoos are the most ancient tattoo category, this class of the tattoo art is completely inspired by nature and signify complex meaning through simple tattoo patterns. Tribal tattoos received the contribution from various ancient human cultures, across the globe. Including Maori, Samoan, Iban, Chinese, Japanese, Celtic, etc.
In these cultures, each and every pattern of these tribal designs used to signify something deeper and specific. They were the symbols of social status, power, achievements, etc. Today, their significance is changed from social symbols to more of emotional reflections of the wearer, using beautiful tattoo patterns, who are inspired from nature.
The best part about them is their openness towards other tattoo designs, you can combine them with any tattoo category and you will get an awesome hybrid tribal tattoo design. Let’s look into the different ancient tribal cultures and their specific tattoo designs. Also, we will look into the shift, from ancient tribal prints to the modern tribal tattoos.
History of Tribal tattoos
Tattoos are with us since forever, almost. The oldest indication of tribal tattoos ages back to the Neolithic age. The archaeological records contain information of this mummified ancient art of tribal tattoos.
The earliest sign of tribal tattoos is clearly seen on the preserved skin of Otzi. The mummified body of Otzi is estimated to be of and around 3100 BC old. Though there are speculated tribal tattoo making tools, found by the archaeological agencies, who are 40, 000 years old, the clear indication of this ancient art only dates back to fourth millennium BC.
There are many more recently discovered mummies found from many archaeological places, such as The Andes, Sudan, Greenland, Siberia, Alaska, Mongolia, Egypt, Philippines, and China.
Purpose of tribal tattoos in Historic times
The tattoo designs we consider as tribal tattoos today, are actually very different from the ancient tribal tattoo designs found in Samoan, Maori, Polynesian, etc. ancient cultures. In fact, modern tribal tattoo designs are the combination of tattoo designs, from all these ancient cultures.
From the emergence of tattoo art, in ancient tribes, they were always used to signify the social status of the wearer. There is always a tale sung by tribal tattoo designs.
In many ancient tribal tattoo designs, you can see imprints of animals and forces of nature, to signify the strength and skills of a warrior in action. These ancient tribal engravings are the matter of pride for the wearer, because of their specific significance for the local tribes.
Also, tribal tattoos design for men were used in many ancient rituals, such as when a boy put his first step in adulthood, a significance of the biological change in his body.
The Ancient tattoo designs were often used to signify the traits of animals and components of nature, and their relationship with the tribal people. A tribal tattoo design always tells a story. It could be a story of the tribe, or that individual or the various happenings at that time. I wonder, what our children will interpret when they will uncover bodies with funny tattoo designs on them in future.
Samoan Tribal tattoo designs
Samoan tribal tattoo designs are one of the most popular ones in the tribal tattoo category, and they are often preferred tattoo design, to give dynamic definition to chest and shoulder, through a half arm-shoulder-chest tattoo print.
Samoan tribal tattoo designs for men are known as Pe’a, and they are generally in large size, covering arms, chest, shoulders, or full body of the wearer. For women, Samoan tribal tattoo designs are known as Malu, and they are more detailed, artistic and small in size.
Samoan tribal tattoos for men are often made with bold patterns, as their major purpose was to make the warriors look more intimidating to the animals and rivals.
Also, these Samoan tattoo designs are often made at those places who are clearly visible and are the strong parts of the body, such as shoulders, thighs, chest, upper arms, forearms, back, etc.
Sun rays Samoan tribal designs, Ocean swirls Samoan tattoo designs, and Marquesan cross is some of the popular tattoo designs in Samoan tribal tattoos.
Maori Face Tattoos
Who doesn’t know Dwayne Rock Johson, “The Rock”? he has Maori tribal tattoo design on him as a chest-shoulder-arm tattoo print. I just stated the above fact to create some excitement.
Actually, Maori tribal tattoos are majorly about face tattoos. Maori people used to consider the head, like a sacred part on their body. Hence, their face tattoos were the significance of their status in society.
Maori face tattoos hold very deep meanings and in the ancient times, each Maori face pattern used to represent the rank, the profession, and the social status of the wearer.
Maori face tattoos were the reward to certain people of the society based on their achievements and success. Hence, they were a matter of pride for the wearer.
But, the sad part, is that at that time, there were no modern tattoo needle machines, which makes a tattoo experience full of sweet pain, nowadays. The tattoo experience for Maori people was a very painful affair, and only braves could have survived that pain.
Tattoos were carved using knives, and chisels. You can imagine how painful it would be. But this is also the reason that the Maori tribal face tattoo designs were the matter of honor for people.
There are certain subcategories in Maori tribal tattoo designs, such as Hei Matau, Te Ora, Hei Tiki, Pikorua, Koru, Te Timatanga, Nga Hau E Wha, etc. So, you can go with any one of them.
Just think twice before reaching to a native tattoo artist for your Maori tribal tattoo, it could be a very painful experience. I am still scared. Haha!
The Celtic tribal tattoos
Celtic tribal tattoo designs are from one of the most ancient tribes of Great Britain. They had a popular culture of painting themselves with deeply meaningful tattoos.
The Celtic culture was very popular but was overshadowed by Christianity, and after that, every effort was made to discredit Celtic tribal culture, this is also a reason that tattoos were considered as a taboo in many cultures.
By depicting that tattoos are wore by people doing dangerous things, they were always kept away from normal people, based on religious beliefs.
The Celtic tribal tattoo designs are generally adorned with knots, crosses, trees, and birds. They look beautiful and are really awesome for a shoulder tattoo design.
With Celtic tribal tattoo designs, you can have an awesome back tattoo too, with designs combined with wings of the Angels.
Iban tribal floral tattoos
Iban tribal tattoos are always inspired by nature, by depicting different natural forms in an attractive way, is something, which is really great about these Iban tribal tattoo designs.
Among all the beautiful depiction of mother nature and its relationship with mankind, the Iban tribal tattoo designs are very inclined towards floral designs.
Iban tribal tattoos are great, and they are beautifully drawn with black ink, that too in large designs, making it a great tattoo choice, for chest, back, shoulders, and legs.
Mayan and Aztec tribal tattoos
The Mayan tattoo designs are the bolder one among the tribal tattoo designs across the world. They are very attractive and serve as a great choice for chest and shoulder tattoo designs.
Ghosts, wild animals and demons are some of the popular designs in Mayan culture, and most of their designs are dedicated to such supernatural powers, who they thought play a very crucial role in human life.
The Mayan tattoos always say a story of human relations with the supernatural world. The same thought flow can be easily seen on the walls of the pyramid and their local tribal tattoo design.
The Mayan culture came into the extensive limelight, after the 2012 episode, which people speculated, the end of the world, as per Mayan calendar.
On a different note, the Aztec tattoos are more about explaining about the achievements and social status of the wearer. These Aztec tattoo designs acted as a matter of pride for the people adorning them.
Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl are some of the godly patterns, preferred by the Aztec people. Also, the Tezcatlipoca tattoo design was the sign of great warriors in Mayan culture.
Modern tribal tattoos
Today, tribal tattoo designs are totally meant for other things. Though they still carry a great amount of magnetic charisma, their purpose is changed. It is not anymore, a symbol of the achievements of the wearer.
Instead, these tribal tattoo designs are the significance of the thoughts of a wearer. Their style statement, their likes, and dislikes, their belief and faith.
Hence, these tribal patterns are embedded with other tattoo designs such as Flower tattoo, elephant tattoo, Animal tattoo designs, Butterfly tattoo, bird tattoos, leaf tattoo designs, etc.
These tribal tattoo designs are now combined with other exciting tattoo arts to give out totally astonishing results, beautiful of course. You can combine a tribal tattoo design with a geometric tattoo pattern, and you will love the final version of your hybrid tribal tattoo.
Also, connect them with Abstract tattoo designs, and you can have anything on yourself in tribal prints. Could be a 3D tattoo too. The delicacies and details of these tribal tattoos are just exceptional.
There are so many places on your body, where you can have these tribal tattoo designs on your hand, chest, shoulder, back, legs, actually just anywhere.
You can have tribal forearm tattoo designs, as a band or a full wrap. Or an arms chest tribal tattoo design, this is my desired tattoo. I will surely have it one day.
Back tribal tattoo designs are also very popular and famous tattoo to have, if you have a nice back shape, you can very well go for a tribal back tattoo.
In case you are too curious about tribal tattoo designs and too much in love with the art of tattoo designing. You can go for a full body tribal tattoo design. Though it is a very bold move, it will look unquestionably beautiful.
Tattoos have always been around us in some way or another, they have always been a tool to create strong and meaningful patterns, to display a variety of things.
It could be achievements, feelings, belief, tribe, profession, or fashion. Whatever the reason is, a tattoo will always say the same thing, which you want it to say.
You can use your creativity, and plan a variety of hybrid tribal tattoo designs, at whichever place you want it on your body. Tattoos are your best friends, and they will always make you look great in front of others, while they are bluntly expressing your thoughts.