150 Traditional Tribal Tattoo Designs For Men And Women

Though tribal tattoos stem from ancient cultures and tradition, yet they are still at the height of popularity in the modern world due to their stylish designs and looks which exude raw power and strength. Their bold patterns have made him a hot favorite among discerning tattoo lovers around the world. The great thing about tribal art is that they are extremely eye catching and will definitely capture the attention of the onlookers with their striking, interlocking patterns. They adhere to the theme of nature and they have been ruling the tattoo world since the eighties and the nineties.

They are considered to be the most popular tattoos that a person can ever wear on his or body. These tattoos have been the favorites of many men and women tattoo lovers in the past and even up to these days. But originally, these tattoos are only allowed to men, especially to those who belong to several tribes. Men in the tribes who have them are considered to be very powerful and strong. Meaning to say, these tattoos will be the ones being used to separate those powerless men to the powerful ones. But these days, a lot of highly skilled tattoo artists are making some extremely gorgeous innovations of these tattoos, making them perfect for all sexes and ages of today’s generation. A tribal art is absolutely oozing with extreme beauty, which is the main reason why it is preferred by a lot of men and women tattoo lovers in the world. Aside from the incomparable beauty of the said tattoos, they are also packed with so much meanings and symbolism.



Tribal art became subjects for criticisms in the past because of their association to a number of cultures in the world. Nevertheless, people became more open about tattooing in the 80’s until today that they become gorgeous body arts worn by many. Historically, the origins of these tattoos were those numerous ancient people in the world like Polynesians.

Tribal Tattoos Meanings and Symbolism

They are just like any other tattoos out there that are extremely gorgeous and meaningful. Yes, these tattoos are not only for beautification purposes since these can convey a lot of meanings and symbolism, depending on the design of the entire tattoo. In relation to this, here are some of the symbolisms and meanings of these tattoos that you must keep in mind, especially if you are thinking of having them on your own body:

  • Recognition –The number one thing that a tribal art is symbolizing is recognition. This is very evident in the past years since such tattoo is used by a lot of tribes in the world in order to recognize the master or the leader of the tribes. In other words, if you have such tattoo, it simply means that you are very powerful in the tribe where you belong.
  • Respect –They also represents respect. Well, as what being said, such tattoo is usually worn by the tribal leaders that can be found in the entire world. These tribes have their own tribal designs. The tattoo is one thing that will tell the people that they should respect the wearer since it simply means power and high position in the tribes.
  • Protection –Another thing that this tattoo is symbolizing is protection. This is also one reason why the tribal leaders wear such tattoo in order for them to be well protected at all times. They need to have a longer life since they need to lead the entire tribes to keep on going with their lives. In case you believe that tribal art can really give extreme protection to the wearers, then why not wear them on your body.
  • Power –Power is also believed to be one of the things that a tribal art is symbolizing. The obvious explanation for this is the fact that such tattoo is originally worn by those powerful tribal leaders or those who have higher position in the tribal group they belong with.
  • Healing –Another thing that you should know this art is symbolizing is healing. During the ancient times, those people who were believed to have a unique healing power used to wear a tribal art. This can be the reason why such tattoo is associated to healing even up to this very day.
  • Fearlessness –Fearlessness is another thing that this art represents. Maybe, it is because of the fact that those tribal people in the past were known to be very brave and fearless, most especially the leaders of the tribes. Hence, if you want to show the world that you are a fearless type of a person, then wearing this tattoo is the best thing that you can do.

Placement Guide  

When we base it in the beliefs and traditions of many ancient people, they should be placed right there on your face. But these days, they have been added with some modern twists, and these can now be placed anywhere you want to. Here are some of the common placements that you might want to take into account:

  • Tribal Art on back Back – This is perfect for those bigger size of tribal tattoos since your back has a very wide space for tattooing. It might also be easy for the tattoo artist to engrave the design in this body part.
  • Tribal Art on Arms – Arms are elongated in size, so these are very good locations for your tribal art. Remember that these tattoos usually have elongated sizes.
  • Tribal Art on Legs – In case you do not want to place the tattoos on your arms but you still need to place them in an elongated body area, then why not place them on your legs. There is no way they cannot be beautiful there.
  • Tribal Design on Thigh – In case you want your tattoos to appear not that very obvious, then you can consider placing them on your thigh.
  • Tribal Design on Chest – A lot of tribal art lovers also consider placing the tattoo on their chest. The tattoo will only be visible when you are topless.


There are lots of celebrities in the world who are being captivated by the beauty of a tribal art. Some of the names of these celebrities are Dwayne Johnson, Rihanna has Maori art on her hand, Wesley Snipes, Angelina Jolie, and Pamela Anderson.

They stand as a mark of recognition and respect for the culture they come from and date back to centuries ago. Even the contemporary designs in tattoo art make use of tribal designs as their basis. In ancient times, tribal arts were inked by making use of traditional equipment such as bones and needles, along with plant based and animal based dyes. Though these procedure were not hygienic, this had no bearing on their popularity. But fortunately, these old fashioned equipment and tools have now been replaced with better ones, making the process far more safe and hygienic for tribal art tattoos and all other kinds of tattoos. Thus the tradition lives on, but with the blend of modernity which makes things easier and less painful for tattoo designers as well as tattoo lovers.

Traditional Design Options

They originate from various cultures, with each of them showcasing special and unique designs in tribal art.

  • Native American Tattoo Designs – The Native American tattoo designs make liberal use of animal patterns, with due importance to wild creatures like snakes, eagles and bears, in addition to mythical creatures and natural objects like feathers, dreamcatchers, anchors, stars. These designs were recognized as talismans of faith, power and protection, besides being used as identification marks.
  • Polynesian Tattoo Designs – The Polynesian Islands include the island of the Pacific Ocean and are famous for their rich tradition and culture. They have been home to special tattoo designs, which were popularized by sailors like Captain Cook. They were a part of the Polynesian culture long before they reached the other parts of the world through European sailors. These tattoo designs include Maori, Samurai, Hawaiian and Samoan tattoo art.
  • Maori Tattoos – The Maori refers to the native tribe of New Zealand, who made the use of distinct tattoo designs as a mark of identification, known as Ta Moko. These tattoo designs carved everything about the family, both maternal and paternal, on the bearer as a mark of his personal background and social stature.
  • Hawaiian Tattoo Designs – The Hawaiian tattoos were an important part of the traditional customs and rituals of these people. These tattoo designs featured geometrical patterns like squares, triangles and crescents, along with animals like lizards and sharks. These tribal art tattoos were believed to have special magical powers.
  • Aztec Tribal Designs – Another well known clan which lived in Central America in the 13th-16th centuries was the Aztecs, who used to make tattoos as a sign of the rank of the warriors as well as to make a distinction between various tribes. The native Gods, eagles and sun were the basic elements used in Aztec tribal designs.
  • Marquesan Tattoo Designs – Another group of island located in French Polynesia is the Marquesa Island, where tattoos are usually inked on the hands, ears, lips and shoulders, chest, thighs of the natives as a part of their tradition. Their special designs are being used in modern tattoo art too.
  • Chinese Tribal Designs – Several Chinese tribes like Li, Drung and Dai have also been known for their prominent tattoo art, which finds place in contemporary tattoo designs created by modern artists today.
  • Borneo Tribal Designs – The island of Borneo is also popular for its tattoo art, with ancient tattoos from these tribes being considered as talismans against disease and pain. The main design elements used in the traditional tattoo art of the tribe were the skulls and roses.


Tribal art is widely preferred because they are superior to regular tattoos in many ways. The usage of black ink in generous quantities makes them fast enough and these tattoos seldom get faded. These tattoos also have the feature of versatility as there are no hard and fast rules about creating these designs, with many expert artists using their creativity to create unique designs. Also, they look great at many places around the body, particularly on the sleeves and legs, because they have bold appeal.


On the other hand, there are certain cons of tribal art too, such as they are hard to conceal or cover up with other designs later, when the bearer wants to get rid of them. Removal of the tattoo is almost impossible because of their large and bold designing. Also, it is hard to find an artist to replicate the tattoos of specific tribe with complete authenticity. In fact, even a small deviation from the original pattern can hurt the sentiments of the natives of the tribe and invoke anger from them. Therefore, tribal designs need to be done with great care and attention to the smallest of details.

10932499_817908018330133_1197731793_n11325293_1618190725107237_128261679_n11333443_1632756270339967_2137249037_nTraditional Tribal Tattoo11355704_1661513850795137_119653563_n11370985_1236252776400982_2045380268_n11430195_1614589998821448_1971047611_nTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal Tattoo

Some other tribes which have provided tribal designs as the basis of modern tattoo art include the Taino tribe of the Caribbean Sea and the Haidas from the west coast of North America. All the tribal art tattoos have carried traditional meanings as explained by the tribal cultures they came from, but today, it is more of the aesthetic value rather than symbolic meanings of these tribal designs, which have carried them to gain a place of importance in the contemporary tattoo art. Moreover, creative tattoo artist have modified these tribal designs and incorporated some additional elements to them to make them more suitable for today’s trend. Yet, tattoo enthusiasts around the world appreciate these designs for their originality and uniqueness, and they continue to be high in demand despite introduction of numerous new and modern designs.

They are of great popularity among men and women, with their visibly striking impact and aesthetic value. Tribal designs make liberal use of black ink, done in the form of thick swirls and lines, which look really impressive and prominent on the skin. These designs display space filling features, making them flexible enough to be placed around the body. Moreover, these designs can look as good on darker skin tones as they look on fair skinned people. They are mostly seen on the arms, legs, shoulders, wrist, finger, ankle and back. Women get tribal art tattoo designs on their lower back, with the design spread all over the back area. Besides the conventional tattoos, the tribal design swirls can be used as an outline or frame for some other tattoo designs and they tend to make them more appealing and striking. Another use of tribal art is that they can be effectively used to make a change in any existing tattoo design, which the bearer wants to get concealed. Even a large tattoo or a name can be easily covered up with the help of bold swirls used in tribal designs.

tribal tattootribal tattootribal tattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal Tattootribal tattootribal tattootribal tattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal TattooTraditional Tribal Tattoo

The tribal tattoos as are used in present times are associated with the ancient tribes like those from the Maori, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Samoan and Native American cultures. In ancient times, tattoos were used in these tribes to point out towards the background and social status of the bearer in the tribe, they were also an important part of the religious rituals followed in the tribe, besides being known for their medicinal use. The people with influential social status wore tattoos which were big in size while smaller tattoos implied lower social stature. They were used as an identification mark in certain ancient tribes, with these marks being used to identify the members of the clan in life and after death.

Moreover, they had a story to tell, with images of animals, warriors and natural forces being featured in them to throw light on an event in the life of the bearer. In these tribes, tattoos were inked on both, men and women, as part of their customs and traditions. These tattoos were inked on people to signify some important event in their life, as the passage from childhood to puberty and so on. The roots of modern tribal art lie in America, though it is inspired by the traditional tribal designs. Some other tribal influences in modern tattoo art include Chinese, Japanese, Aboriginal, Aztec, Mayan, Egyptian and Oriental.

Traditional Tribal Tattootribal tattoo (1)tribal tattoo (2)tribal tattooTraditional Tribal Tattootribal tattootribal tattootribal tattooTribal arts have been endorsed by several leading international celebrities, who have brought these designs into vogue by wearing them. Some of the global celebrities who have played a key role in popularizing tribal art tattoos include big names like Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, Jamie Fox, Mike Tyson, Pamela Anderson, Johnnie Depp, Robin Williams, Cheryl Cole and Anna Kournikova.

tribal tattootribal tattootribal tattoo

Designs Options For Traditional Tribal Art

Needless to say, a tribal tattoo is very important in a lot of tribes in the entire world. As a matter of fact, such tattoo came into existence because of those tribal people in the past years and even up to these days. The tattoo itself has a number of uses to these people. In relation to this, here are some of the beautiful designs of traditional tribal art that you might want to consider before having such tattoo on your own body:

  • Polynesian Tribal Art Design–As its name suggests, this design originates from Polynesia, which is a group of islands that is exactly located in the Pacific Ocean. When a group of sailors arrived in Polynesia, they were captivated by the tribal art that they wore it on their own body. They then brought it to their homeland somewhere in Europe, spreading the greatness.
  • Borneo Tribal Art Design –Borneo is one beautiful island that can be found in Malaysia. There are lots of tribes living in this island, which are known to be the inventors of the Borneo tattoo design. Some of these tribes are the Kayan en Kenyah and the Iban tribes. The Kayan people are using carved skulls or carved wood blocks in order to engrave the tattoo design on their body. The Borneo tribal art is known to be the protector of the wearer against diseases and pain.
  • Hawaiian Tribal Art Design–The Hawaiian tribal art tattoo design is one of the most preferred by many people in the entire world. It is simply because this design will involve a number of gorgeous tattoo motifs. Some of these motifs are animals, crescents, squares, and triangles. The popular animal motifs are the lizards and the sharks. The Hawaiian tribal art tattoo is known to have a magical power, which is one reason why many men and women tattoo lovers are enticed to wear such tattoo design.
  • Maori Tribal Art Design – Another gorgeous design that is considered by many is the Maori tribal art design. For you to know, the Maori is actually a tribe that is living in the beautiful country of New Zealand. The Maori people are the ones who invented such tribal art design. The truth is, Maori people are engraving such tattoo design on their body in order to show their family history.
  • Marquesan Tribal Art Design –The Marquesan tribal art design actually originates in the French Polynesia, particularly in the group of islands of Marquesa. Just in case you do not know, there are so many tattoo artists in the world today who are greatly influenced by the Marquesan tribal art tattoo. The common body parts where a Marquesan tribal design should be placed are ears, lips, shoulders, and hands.
  • Native American Tribal DesignThe Native American tribal design is another extremely beautiful tattoo design that is gaining more and more popularity these days. The tattoo design originates from the American Indians. The tattoo is used for identification purposes of these people. They also believed that this tattoo is a great symbol of praise and protection. The usual Native American tribal design involves mythical creatures, feathers, and animals such as snakes, bears, and eagles.
  • Chinese Tribal Design –It cannot be denied that there were some undesirable things that were involved in the history of Chinese tattoos. Even so, this does not stop the people from idolizing the Chinese tribal design. The most famous Chinese tribes that are known to be the origins of the tattoo are the Li, Drung, and Dai tribes.
  • Aztec Tribal DesignThe truth is, the Aztec tribe is also one of those people who belong to Native Americans. The tribe was very famous in the Central American where they used to live way back on the 13th up to the 16th The Aztec tribal art was used by them in order to differentiate their own tribe to some other tribes. It was also worn by the Aztec people in order to show the rank of the warriors in the tribe.
  • Taino Tribal Art  – The inventors of the very beautiful Taino tribal art were the Taino people. These ancient people were actually Indians. They used to live in a number of parts in the Caribbean. Some of these places were Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti. For the Taino culture, the tattoos were only worn by men, and women wore piercings. The Taino tribal art symbolizes the expression of faith to God.
  • Haida Tribal Art – The Haida tribal art tattoo design was invented by those tribes who used to live on the North America’s west coast. As its name suggests, these indigenous people were known to be the Haidas. For these people, the Haida tribal art tattoo was used in order to determine the social status of the person as well as to symbolize the crest of the family.

Final Words

There is no question why tribal tattoos are the most preferred body tattoos of many people in the entire world. Aside from the fact they can give gorgeous appearance to the wearers, these tattoos are also rich in history, which made them extremely interesting body arts.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here