Tribal Tattoo Designs and Their Meanings

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The art of tattooing is probably as old as humanity itself and tribal tattoo designs have always been at the forefront of the most favorite tattoo designs throughout the ages. Even though the technology used in tattoos have evolved from the crude ink and needle techniques of yesteryears to the modern tattoo- making tools and machines that can create colorful, very intricate and very complicated works of art on a human body, the preference for tribal designs never waned.

The following is a short discussion of the various tribal tattoo designs that many people prefer and a look into the meaning behind these designs. 

The Traditional Meaning of Tribal Tattoos

It has been the tradition of many tribes around the world to sport a form or two of tribal tattoos on their bodies as part of being a member of that particular tribe. Some of the more popular traditional designs that we see today originated from Borneo, the Celts, the Haidas in Southeast Alaska, the Native American Indians, the ancient Chinese, the Aztecs and other South American tribes, and the Polynesian tribes particularly the Maori people. 

Tribal tattoo designs and meanings vary from each tribe and it depends on their mythological roots and how each tribe view and interact with there surroundings and with the world. Most of these designs are associated with their beliefs and religions and form part of rituals and rights of passages. These tattoo designs also have significant social meanings ranging from a unique identification system for families or tribes or as a record of the individual’s accomplishments and phases in life. Others believe tattoos can bring out magical powers or they can drive off evil spirits. 

Tribal Tattoo Meanings in the Modern World

Tribal tattoos are really great-looking designs that stand out despite their monochromatic characteristics. The modern world and tattoo enthusiasts have combined certain elements of traditional designs and mix it up with modern lines, curves and other elements. These designs can be adapted from traditional patterns used by real tribes, or designs can be created from an original variation of the artist using traditional tribal elements.

However, a person wanting such variations or adaptation from original designs should be careful not to offend the original tribe by making more careful studies on tribal tattoo meanings particularly for a specific tribe. Some traditional designs used by native tribes signify their identity and if used by an outsider, the act would be considered a serious insult to the original tribe.    

In most cases, tribal tattoo designs used in a modern context does not have the same meaning or connotation as traditional tribes have intended them to be. Most do not have a real meaning in itself and were just created because of plain, artistic and aesthetic beauty that the image possesses. Despite that, a lot of people are enamored and would prefer the tribal design over the multi-colored variations.

Tattooing is an age-old tradition used by many tribes all throughout the world. The black images used in tribal tattoo designs have different connotations and meanings as they are used throughout the tattoo world - both traditionally and in a modern sense. 


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