Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Tribal Tattoo

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Tribal tattoos have a rich history that dates back to the beginning of civilization and have been documented in various historical accounts worldwide.

Modern tribal tattoos draw inspiration from ancient designs mostly influenced by traditional tribal art. The Borneo and Aztec cultures, along with Samoa, India, Hawaii, Polynesia, and the Maori people, were the first to develop this style of tattooing.

If you are considering getting a tattoo, a tribal design may be a good pick. You are probably wondering about the hidden meaning behind these tattoo designs. Let’s dive into the message behind them and some details on how they evolved in various cultures.

1. Anyone Can Get It

You don’t need to come from a specific tribe or cultural background to get this tattoo. However, for members of a tribe, having tribal tattoos holds significant symbolism. It’s important to consider that every tattoo carries a unique significance, so getting one solely for its aesthetic appeal could be disrespectful.

If you’re interested in respecting that culture or its style, learning more about its symbolism would be helpful. Following that approach will make your tattoo visually stunning and carry a profound significance. Look at the different main categories of tribal tattoos and identify your favorite.

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2. Cultural Significance

Tribal tattoos are frequently used to represent a strong sense of identity and belonging. These tattoos are significant in the cultural traditions as they can represent belonging to a tribe, indicate social standing, and even show family heritage. People often wear these tattoos to connect to their heritage and promote pride and togetherness.

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Tribal tattoo designs often carry deep spiritual and ritual meanings. In certain cultures, people believe that these tattoos can offer protection, bring good luck, or keep away evil spirits.

Tribal tattoos often serve as a way for people to showcase their achievements and social status within their community visually. Some designs are meant for people who have accomplished important goals or shown courage, leadership, or other exceptional qualities.

3. Meaning in Common Tattoo Placement

Tribal tattoo placement has meaning too. For instance, head or face tattoos hold spiritual significance in Polynesian and Maori tattoos. The shoulders and upper limb tattoos, on the other hand, are warrior symbols. If you get a hand tattoo, it could mean that you are an artisan.

Are you considering getting a tribal tattoo on the joints? Well, it could be a sign of family ties. Most people get leg and foot tattoos as a symbol of forward momentum. Without leaving out the chest tattoos, they are mostly a sign of generosity.

Essentially, the placement is your choice, and while you can pick whichever you feel looks best, it is also important to consider the significance.

4. Selecting the Perfect Tribal Tattoo Design

When choosing a tribal tattoo design, it’s important to consider how it will look on your body’s curves and contours. The tattoo lines should follow the natural curves and motions of the body part, enhancing its shape and highlighting its features. Another aspect to consider is whether you prefer a simple or complex design.

Men tend to gravitate towards pointy shapes and chunky lines, whereas women go for thinner lines and swirly patterns. You can place a tribal tattoo anywhere on your body without any specific restrictions. People who like bigger tribal tattoos often choose to get them on their backs. Men prefer having tattoos on their upper back, whereas women prefer getting them on the lower region.

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Tribal tattoos in smaller sizes can complement the wrists, fingers, or even the side of the hand. If you’re looking to tap into your inner tribal warrior, focusing on your feet and legs would be a great choice. Some individuals who desire a tribal tattoo that resembles a warrior’s body armor often choose to have it inked on their chests.

5. Coloring

In the past, tribal tattoos typically used a small range of colors, mainly black ink. The main focus was on using bold, dark lines and solid black fillings to make eye-catching and visually powerful designs. Over time, tribal tattoos have seen advancements in tattooing techniques and technologies, expanding the range of colors and inks available for these tattoos.

Tribal tattoos have traditionally used black ink as the main choice, but nowadays, it’s becoming more popular to add color to contemporary tribal designs. Nowadays, artists are incorporating vibrant colors into tribal motifs to create a sense of depth and make them visually captivating. Colors such as red, green, blue, and yellow are usually used to boost specific elements within the tattoo, like animal features or decorative patterns.

Certain tribal tattoo artists have a preference for using natural pigments that come from organic sources.


Tribal tattoos are more than just pretty designs on the body. They connect significantly to different communities’ cultural roots and traditions worldwide. By delving into the origins, significance, and cultural importance of tribal tattoo designs, you can better appreciate these ancient art forms’ profound and captivating nature.

Tribal tattoos have always been a significant way for people to express their identity, sense of belonging, spirituality, and social status. They are a beautiful tribute to the diverse cultures in our world.

About the author

James is a talented tattoo artist with a passion for creating unique and personalized designs. With a focus on attention to detail and a deep commitment to his craft, he strives to create tattoos that capture his clients' individuality and self-expression.