What Are Tribal Tattoos?

If you’re asking yourself “What are tribal tattoos?” This post is sure to enlighten you a bit on the subject. Tribal, meaning – cultural aspects of a certain group of people. Most people who get tribal tattoos however, aren’t usually associated with any certain tribe. Tribal tattoos simply refer to the type of style and design of the culture they originated from. These types of tattoos imitate the patterns and elements of tribal symbols.

For many years, tribal tattoos have been used to express religious or spiritual beliefs. They have also been used for camouflage, medicinal purposes, and to symbolize status within the tribe itself. Modern tribal tattoo art traditionally utilizes the styles of Polynesian, Maori, Haida, and Borneo tribes.

Polynesian Tattoos

In Polynesian culture, the word ‘tattoo’ is derived from the Polynesian word ‘tatau.’ All people on the island of Marquesas in Polynesia were tattooed. Many of these tattoos were symbols that were used as a form of language. These were often animals or parts of animals that represented a wider meaning.

Maori Tattoos

In New Zealand, the Maori tribesmen got tattoos on their face, called ‘moko.’ No one had the same tribal tattoo. Each were unique. These indicated social status, achievements, occupation, etc. Full facial tattoos were used on males where females were only given tattoos around their mouths.

The Maori tribesmen believed that when a person dies, light shined through them. These tattoos served as a representation of who are.

Haida Tattoos

Many Native American tribes used symbols to tell stories about the Earth’s history, the society, and other historical events. A particular tribe, called the Haida, is especially known for it’s carvings and tattoos of animals. These people believed that these symbols would give strength to a person who dawned it as a tattoo, inheriting it’s traits.

Borneo Tattoos

In Southeast Asia, the island of Borneo includes what is now Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. The tribal tattoos from this region served as proof of achievement and gave protection to those who dawned them.
Borneo is a large island in Southeast Asia. Current political boundaries divide it between Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. The traditional tattoos of this region were symbols of protection and proof of achievement. They often depicted flowers, scorpions, spirals, dragons, or dogs in bold colors.

What Tribal Tattoos Mean Now

In modern times, tribal tattoos combine historical and traditional symbols with modern images. They are now more widely used as a form of artistic expression. Much of the use of labeling for social status and achievement are now disregarded. These types of tattoos are usually characterized by big bold lines. Therefore, be sure to think twice before getting a tribal tattoo because they are much tougher to cover-up than one of a less prominent nature.


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