They’re one of the most popular tattoo designs in the entire world, and although they have become so mainstream, people around the world are still buying into the traditional tribal tattoo design.
Tribal tattoos are absolutely fascinating. There are so many different types that it’s impossible to say anything bad about the design in general. There are so many different people and tribes throughout culture and history who have practiced this traditional tattoo. To call a tattoo tribal simply means to be of a tribe, but the style hasn’t been taken from one specific group of people. Instead it is characteristic of bold, solid black patterns similar to the styles of Polynesia and the Pacific.
Tribal tattoo art is significant of its sweeping curves and sharp points that work together to form patterns. The tribal style can easily be a part of any type of image and can portray just about anything at all.
The tribal tattoo was not originally intended to be something that looked cool. The main intent for the tattoo was power, in that the Samoans believed a body suit of tattoos was a great step toward becoming a man. American Indians used the style of body art to protect themselves while in battle, and Burmese villagers believed that tattooing a design over the heart will protect the area of the body from bullets. Tribal tattoos are not meant for looks, but more for the extreme symbolism saturated within the design.
Tribal tattoos were once significant only to Pacific Islanders and Africans, but now are one of the most popular throughout the entire world. Within the Maori culture of New Zealand, tribal tattoo symbolism is a huge part of their lives. Many believe the Moko style of tattoo, in which the tribal tattoos are drawn on a face, believed to be a necessity in the afterlife. The Maori people believed tribal tattoos helped spirits find and identify dead Maoris.
The Maori people used small chisel-shaped pieces of bone when creating their tribal tattoos. The bone was dipped in pigment, and then struck with a mallet to create the grooves and characteristics of the desired tattoo. But when creating the Moko tattoo, artists needed for the bone to penetrate deep into the skin and cuts were often so deep that they went straight through the cheek. But the pride of the Maori warriors kept caused them to continue the fascinating body art.
The decorative art of the tribal tattoo was said in earlier times to reflect their character and the fierceness of their nature. Even if the ancient warrior was killed by their enemy, the untattooed body would be kicked aside, while the tattooed would be treated with respect.
Today tribal tattoos are so rarely looked upon for their symbolism, but more for the beauty of the design within itself and what it means to the individual person holding the art.