65+ Mysterious Traditional Tribal Tattoo Designs & Meanings – For Men and Women (2019)
Tattoos have always been the hallmark of confident people. For those who knows their true value and the value of their body. Even a small tattoo, made by a talented artist is able to change your life drastically. It is no secret that the early tribal tattoos served as a protection and mascots.
It has become a symbol of man’s strength and power.
You’ll never be out of pocket with such kind of design. It was grinded for ages for you to have the amazing sleeve or shoulder tattoo. Let’s imagine that you’ve decided to pay a visit to the local artist. The amount of the designs is infinite. But one of the most traditional variant is a tribal tattoo.
The word “tribal” means “pattern on the skin”. Indeed, it resembles intricate patterns on the bodies of tribes of Africa, Native America or Australia. And in some of the tribes, such drawings were really applied to the skin for a lifetime as a tattoo.
However, in the modern world by the phrase “tribal tattoo” we mainly mean pointed, contrasting (without smooth transitions) solo-colored tattoos on the skin.
Of course, the modern “tribal” is strongly reminiscent of the style in which the various tribes of the planet adorned their bodies. There are even different varieties of tribal “styles” depending on the place of origin.
So let us start with the traditional Polynesian culture – the original source of many ideas in the tattoo area. Samoan people say, “Tattoo is a link between your mental abilities and your navel”.
Naturally, it cannot be expressed literally. To be more precise, when you make a tattoo, you begin to live according to the patterns made on your skin. Your life (navel) your words (speech) and your thinking (mental abilities) will contribute to the desires and thoughts which are inscribed on your skin.
In many cultures of the Pacific Ocean – tattoo is associated with a MANA spirit, with its vitality, energy, soul and magic. By making tattoos people strengthen their relation both with MANA and with their ancestors at the same time. Tribal were made to give people their own personal magic.
In Hawaiian culture the tattoo artists are recognized as experts of this style, the special priests of a Kahuna god.
For Filipinos the sacred tattoos were made not for fashion but for better understanding and embracing of their own culture. It is a spiritual connection with those who paved them.
The process of tattooing looked like a sacred ritual, since only the priestesses could perform it. For this ritual the special house was build, where a man who needed tattoo lived during the procedure.
The whole process sometimes took several months and everybody was singing songs around the house and performing special rituals throughout this time to appease the spirits and get their blessings.
The priestesses used the natural materials: sharp sticks or even rub the paint directly on the freshly cut skin. All this pain has to be endured by the man so he can prove that he is worthy of wearing a tattoo and enlist the support of spirits.
With the development of the tattoos in modern culture, tribal become an oddity for many people around the world. It is simply performed, and at the same time very beautiful pattern. That is what has made these tattoos very popular for centuries.
Tribal is still considered to be a major part of tattoo culture, and its elements are often inserted into the modern tattoo in order to enhance the beauty of the picture.
However, the 21st century has come, and Tribal style is gradually replaced by professional works of art and little-by-little loses popularity which it got in the 20th century. In today’s world such a tattoo pattern cannot be related to a “clear” tribe anymore.
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Basic symbols and its meanings
Sometimes the pattern is a motto, the desire in life or protection. While choosing a future design you should check the meanings of Polynesian tattoos depending on the sex. Such kind of style is traditionally peculiar of men but still there are some for women (for example – the Moon).
Although nowadays they are often applied as an ornamental having more decorative function. Here are some patterns of Polynesian tattoos and their meanings:
- Shark – Symbol of strength, power, stamina and perseverance. Sharks were considered sacred and powerful animals. These tattoos were supposed to protect the owner from enemies and threats.
- Tiki (masks) – Was made on warriors, it was considered that this tattoo was a strong protection against the enemies, as well as against the evil eye and evil spirits. Tiki always looks different directions to symbolize the protection from all the sides.
- Turtle – symbolizes protection, the importance of family security. The animal carries the force of health, longevity, fertility, and directs the path of harmony with the spirit of the body. As the soldiers used the shells as shields, while drawing a tortoiseshell, they believed that it protects against evil spirits.
- The moon (or crescent) is a mainly women’s symbol fertility. The combination of the moon and the sun means that the impossible is possible. Every human is a master of his destiny.
- Sun – a symbol of eternity and life.
- Iguanas, dragons and geckos. Polynesians believed that such a tattoo give supernatural powers and were delighted with these creatures.
There are symbols which are not originated in Polynesia or Hawaii but still are very popular within this style.
In some cultures, wolves are predators, which hunt at night for the human soul. In other cultures, the wolf is endowed with the noblest traits: the defender of innocent, leader and warrior.
The meaning wolf tattoo is as multifaceted as the history of this predator in different countries.
The most common meanings are:
- Loyalty and devotion;
- Strong relations inside the family;
- Fearless guardian and ward;
- Strength of the predator;
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The celebrities and their tattoos
There are a lot of fans of a tribal style among the celebrities. Usually the owners are massive and muscular men who emphasize their power with such sole-colored patterns.
Mike Tyson is one of the few public people who were not afraid to get a tattoo on his face. The tattoo done in the ancient Maori style and was made in 2003 before the fight with Etienne Clifford. It took him 2 years to make a decision, but he assures that he is satisfied with the result.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has his tattoo on the left shoulder and breast. It is rather extensive and looks like some rock paintings of the ancient Incas. But even a cliff image contains a meaning. The same we can say about our tattoo on the “Rock.”
It has a deep meaning; it reflected his ancestry and the life, as well as future of an actor.
You won’t understand the tattoo quite complete at a glance. Hardly could you make out what symbols are present there. Here only Johnson can tell us the true story of his family by means of the symbols of the tattoo. You are welcome to study it through the image.
- Those are coconut palm leaves, which mean the Leading Samoan warrior.
- A sun brings good luck.
- It is a special god (three persons in one). It is me with open hands, and then down to my chest it holds my wife, Dany and my daughter, Simone Alexandra.
- The whirlpool represents past, present and future. The future is endless. Fragment continues under my arm, where it is explained.
- The two eyes called represent my ancestors watching my way.
- Big Eye. It is intimidating symbol that allows its owner to control the spirit of the enemy. Originally the eye is used to distract the enemy during the confrontation.
- The damaged face marked by a shark tooth is a symbol of strength. This is my spiritual patron and symbol of struggle in my life.
- It is a priest and spiritual guide, who brings a warrior to enlightenment and supernatural power before the eyes of warrior’s ancestors.
- These are stones of achievement and abundance. They are the foundation of my life and my background. Having them I can stand up and speak with honor like a true Tula Fale. And they support MANA – supernatural power.
- Tortoiseshell is to scare off the evil spirits. As warriors used shells as shields.
Here we can see that the simple, at a glance tattoo, can contain a bunch of highly spiritual meanings.
As usual we insist on the detailed examining of the existing photos of tattoos that are available on the Internet and to compare it with the idea that you had planned to bring into life on your body.
Because the modern manifestation of this tattoo can hardly be called a rebirth of Polynesian tattoos, but rather a new style, which took a bit of the past and vast majority of the modern age.