Tribal tattoos have become increasingly popular since bursting onto the modern tattoo scene in the early 1990’s. There’s something about their simple strength and beauty that is compelling, even to people who otherwise may not like tattoos. The gentle curves and strong angles of these black tattoos can be bold strokes across the skin, or intricate and almost lace-like. Some tribal tattoos incorporate human or animal figures. Others are purely symbolic.
As popular as tribal designs are, very few people know much about the history and symbolism behind these tattoos. This often isn’t due to a lack of trying to learn about them, but because of the fact that there are so many ancient and tribal societies that have used tattoos as part of their culture. The ancient art of tattoo is in evidence all over the world, from Europe and the Americas to Asia and all over the South Pacific.
For as many tattoo-wearing cultures as there have been throughout history, there are just as many meanings behind the symbols used. The tattoos of some societies symbolize different life experiences and expand over the years to tell the person’s life story. Some societies use tattoos as symbols of spiritual protection or for healing power over a specific ailment. Others used tattoos to signify their warrior achievements, such as how many rival warriors they had killed or how many heads they had taken. Still others wear traditional tattoos of their tribe purely because the tattoos were considered to make them more beautiful.
If you are considering getting a tribal tattoo, the best way to learn more about the background and history of tribal tattoo designs that you are drawn toward is to study the tattoo styles of the different tattoo-wearing societies. Doing a web search on the tattoos of different cultures will allow you identify which culture’s tattoos you are drawn to, and allow you to learn more about the meaning behind the tattoos of that society. Some of the more commonly seen tribal tattoos are Celtic, Maori, Samoa, Borneo, the Philippines and Native American.
Although many people choose to get tribal tattoos in order to keep in touch with their own culture background, you don’t have to carry the bloodline of the culture to get a tribal tattoo. However, out of respect for the culture, you should take some time to learn about the history and meaning of tattoos in that society. By doing a little bit of research you may find a tribal tattoo that you not only are drawn to artistically, but that reflects a connection between how you see the world and the beliefs of the culture that originated the design.
If you don’t feel connected to the tribal tattoos of one particular culture, you can take inspiration from several styles. You can work with your tattoo artist to create a tribal-inspired tattoo that means something special to you.
Whether your tribal tattoo is drawn directly from a specific culture, or your tattoo artist helps you create a new tribal-inspired tattoo design, a tribal tattoo is a very special and meaningful piece of art.