60 Best Tribal Tattoos – Meanings, Ideas and Designs for 2017

It is extremely rare these days not to see a person wearing a tattoo or a few of them, and sometimes the design is calligraphic text, images and shapes, or even elaborately tribal, which is what we will talk about in this article, but first things first; just what is a tattoo? The word tattoo itself comes from the Polynesian word ‘tatau’, meaning ‘womanlike’, or ‘correct’, and also from Tahitian ‘tatu’ or ‘tatau’, which means ‘to strike’ or ‘to mark’. A tattoo is a form of body decoration whereby marks are made on the body by puncturing the outer layer of the skin and depositing color into it. With written reference from Joseph Bank’s Journal dating back to 1743, it is safe to say that tattoos are by no means a modern occurrence but have been around for quite a while. Let us now delve into tribal tattoos, their popularity, and their meaning.

Tribal tattoo ideas

Representation of Tribal Tattoos

This design is originally from old tribes such as the tribes of Borneo, the Celtic, the Haida, and the Maori. These old tribes have come to bear a modern form of tribal art called New Tribalism.

  • Old Celts mainly lived in France, Ireland, and England, and their designs are typically of dogs, humans, birds, interlace, and spiral. This civilisation gradually disappeared around the year 1000.
  • Maori tribes from New Zealand had facial and leg tattoos, similar to their wood carvings and based on spiral shapes. The facial tattoos were individually drawn so each was unique, and legend had it that once dead, light passes through one’s body but not the tattoos, so family and friends could recognize their deceased. Generally a tattoo meant mastering ones’ inner strength
  • Haida (Indian) tribes from the Northwest coast of America had tattoos mainly about Indian Astrology and was typically of fish, bears, thunderbirds, fish, and beavers. They believed that you took over part of the strength of the animal whose tattoo you wore.
  • The Dayak and Iban from Borneo, located above Indonesia, typically had dragons, scorpions, dogs, flowers, and spirals, and they wore them as proof of their achievements and for protection.

Over time, travelers, traders,soldiers, sailors, and even slaves spread the cultures of their tattoos to different places where they were adapted to their new home, and this played a major role in the revival and modernization of tattoos as we know them.

Popularity of Tribal Tattoos

Seeing as ancient tribes had different tattoos for different occasions, it is curious that the practice has been revived today, with most of those tribes long gone. Below are some reasons as to why a modern person with no ties to a particular tribe may wear these tattoos:

  • Their symbolism defines the wearer’s passions and identity.
  • Everyone has the basic tribal need to belong, and these tattoos give some a sense of that.
  • As an expression of uniqueness, and one’s personal freedom.
  • They grant one a kind of connection to ancient, mystic, and mysterious activity.
  • More information and imagery of the tattoos is available, therefore their awareness has spread.
  • For the simple love of art.

So now that you have a lot of information on the issue , and are sure to make a good decision if you decide to get a tattoo, just be sure to check in at a certified tattooists’ parlor, who is reputable, hygienic, knowledgeable, and last but not least, courteous, so you get a piece you will never regret having in the future!

Shoulder and Chest Tribal Tattoo For Men

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This tribal tattoo is a fascinating expression of artistics design. Notice how every curve is detailed and done with great precision. Also, notice the circular pattern on the chest which is a symbol of the sun and signifies riches, brilliance and leadership. Needless to say, this tribal tattoo design enhances a man’ss masculinity and communicates some element of confidence, bravery and power.

Tribal Tattoo Full Sleeve for Men

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Fine lines of high detail best describe this Polynesian tattoo. Notice the spearheads and shark teeth that were once a sign of social status and achievement. However, Polynesian tattoos are nowadays considered a statement of individual artistic expression. These tattoos are believed to be sacred though, so you should be careful when having one etched on your skin.

Bold Maori Half Sleeve Tattoo

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A tattoo design that concentrates more on symbolism than overall design, this forearm tattoo can be used to express personality, identity or to enhance ones masculinity. It features symbols such as the turtle shell and the lotus flower- both of which are used to symbolize rebirth and longevity.

Awesome Full Sleeve and Chest Tribal Tattoo for Men

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Composed of black, solid geometric designs, this full sleeve tattoo combines the designs of traditional Polynesian tribes with modern inspiration. Check out the skillfully crafted arrow-like pattern that runs from the lotus flower to the wrist; this pattern is known as Pakati, a symbol of strength courage and bravery.

Shoulder Aztec Tribal Tattoo

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Inspired by ancient Mesoamerican cultures, this Aztec tattoo is visually stunning, steeped in rich history and full of symbols. For instance, the Marquesan cross (the circle pattern on the shoulder) is often used to symbolize a balance between the elements and harmony.

Ornamental Chest Tribal Tattoo

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This is a Maori tribal tattoo that is dominated by black and bold spirals known as ‘koru’. The spirals are a representation of growth and new beginnings according to the Maori culture. Each Polynesian island has its own way of tattooing making it a truly unique experience.

Tribal Sun-Moon Tattoo

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Thick lines and semi-organic shapes that are filled exclusively with black, best describe this tattoo. However, don’t be fooled by the seemingly simple tattoo design because it laden with meaning. The sun goes with the moon to represent a merging of opposites. However, it can also be used to represent harmony and balance within one’s life.

Tribal Tikki Back Tattoo For Men

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Simple yet highly sophisticated, this tattoo features detailed geometric patterns that include symbols like the sun and the ‘enata’ which is a typical motif in Polynesian tattoos. While the ‘enata’ symbolizes the relationship between human, gods, and life experiences; the sun on the other hand symbolizes power. Enclosing the sun within the patterns of the enata in this tattoo could mean that one has given the gods power to protect his life experiences.

Bold Maori Tribal Back and Sleeves Tattoo For Men

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Clearly, a lot of attention and detail went into creating this Maori back tattoo. The symmetrical patterns heavily influenced by Polynesian tattoos lend this tattoo a very bold and masculine appearance. Note the ‘spear-heads’ on the left shoulder and the turtle shell on the right shoulder; both are used to represent courage and longevity.

Geometric Tribal Tattoo for Women

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Commonly found in Hawaiian and Samoan tattoos, this geometric tattoo borrows from a traditional design that consists of simple straight lines repeating on the body. Although this type of tattoo was traditionally tatted on women’s hands as a sign of tribal standing and reverence, countless women today receive it as an expression of authenticity.

Samoan Tribal Leg Tattoo For Men

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This tattoo covers the entire calf and includes the typical Polynesian symbols like arrow-heads which are a representation of courage and shark teeth which signify guidance and power. Obviously, the combination of modernity and tradition in this unique art form works to create an incredible tribal leg tattoo.

Sexy Upper Arm and Shoulder Tribal Tattoo

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Inset is a Polynesian shoulder and half-sleeve tattoo that embodies the true spirit of valiance and courage. This tattoo features innumerable tribal symbols that enhance both its beauty and significance. In fact, this sophisticated tattoo can be read like book to tell the story of the wearer.

Stylish Full Sleeve Tribal Tattoo For Men

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This is an intricate Maori tattoo with a lot of fine line work. Full of spirals, arrow-heads and shark teeth, thi tattoo is full of symbolism that creates amazing body art. Plus, the Maori lotus beautifully tatted on the elbow also adds just the right touch touch of sensuality to the tattoo.

Marquesan Chest and Sleeve Tattoo

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Bearing much semblance to a plate of armor, it is no wonder that the Marquesan tattoo is a popular choice for men. Needless to say, the Marquesan tattoos were traditionally worn for purposes of enhancing attractiveness. However, hidden within the intricate spirals and lines are symbols and meanings that go far beyond just aesthetics.

Cool Maori Shoulder and Half Sleeve Tattoo For Men

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This Maori tattoo has a bold visual appearance with thick black curving lines and interlocking patterns that lend themselves well to the symmetry of the upper arm and the shoulder. And although the main focal point of Maori tattoos was generally the face, since tribal tattoos have grown in popularity, the shoulder has quickly replaced the face as the most commonly tattooed part of the body.

Bold Marquesan Armor Tattoo for Men

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This is a Marquesan chest plate tattoo that features the sun on the chest as the centerpiece. Note that the sun is used to symbolize power in Polynesian culture. Also, note how the artist uses the shoulder cap to create symmetry. Other symbols are also incorporated in to this tattoo design like lotus flower on the shoulder and the shark teeth.

Modern Samoan Sleeve and Chest Tattoo

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This is a Samoan tribal tattoo with a modern twist. It includes short lines, circles, spirals and large sections of black bands that work to form an amazing pattern. The geometric lines and shape work exceptionally well to accentuate the symmetry of the wearer’s body.

Awesome Maori Shoulder and Half Sleeve Tattoo on Man’s Arm

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Curvilinear in nature, Maori tattoos are characterized by intricate spirals and curved shapes. This tattoo uses spiral motifs to create an alluring pattern undoubtedly filled with popular Polynesian symbols. And unlike other tribal tattoos that use thick black curving lines, this tattoo design uses thin intricate patterns instead to achieve the same effect.

Impressive Polynesian Tattoo on Upper body for Men

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This bold Polynesian upper body tattoo undoubtedly creates a striking visual appeal. Other than the appeaking thick black curves just below the chest, the tribal band on the waist and the sun above the navel, all synchronize work to create a breathtaking piece of art.

Samoan Chest and Half-Sleeve Tattoo for Men

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Bearing much semblance to a chest plate, this Polynesian chest tattoo is great for enhancing one’s masculinity. Whatss more, the attention to detail and incorporation of symbols like the shark teeth and enata- a motif designed to symbolize gods and humans- further enhance its appeal to men who are looking for great tattoo ideas.

More tribal tattoos on the next page…