150+ Notable Tribal Tattoo Ideas – Origin, Meaning, Types And More!


Tribal tattoo is one of the most popular tattoos for a long time already. It is tough to define a tribal tattoo exactly because the coverage is beyond culture or a group of people, but rather it is a common thing. Sometimes calling a tattoo ‘tribal’ might be wrong, because the types and the styles of each one vary completely with the rest of the family. Though it is the outcome of tribal culture, it has inherited a lot from various cultures as well as countries, different races of people, and also due to religious aspects.


The tribal tattoos are the ones with traditional patterns, which are often modified to prepare some different inspirational tattoos, but meaningless. The tribal tattoo has some repetitive designs, bold black line motifs, use of only black ink with heavy linings, most enormous mythical symbolism. These days people from all kinds of professions or personalities seem to wear tribal tattoos. The design might vary from calligraphic texts to various shapes or images when it comes to elaborating on a tribal tattoo.

To know more about a tribal tattoo, one must have a more exceptional concept about a tattoo. What is a tattoo? The word is a Polynesian modification to word tatau, which means womanly. It is also a modification of the word tatu from the Tahitian language, meaning mark. A tattoo is a decorative method that leaves permanent marks on your body that can have various colors and textures. It is a work of ink, needle & hands!



The history of tribal tattoo is vast. It has been into existence from a century ago when the symbol was first invented—the tribal tattoo which we find these days is a modification of what existed for a long time. The combination of style, along with traditional designs, the new ones are different from the first tribal tattoos. But, no matter how many modifications are there, they remain as the individual artistic expression.

Though with time, there came some negative feedbacks to these tribal tattoos, making the reputation go down. But in the late 80s, Generation X repurchased them! They were deeply into the indigenous cultures making the tattoos as a part of the lives of people. Similarly, the introduction of tribal tattoo systems in modern American culture eliminated the historical tie between wearing a tribal tattoo and getting them on!


If we look back into the tradition that might go up to a thousand years back, tribal tattoos still make their place. The new forms of tattoo ideas that we see today are from the first tribal tattoos. It started with a style long ago, adopted by certain tribes or typically people with the same cultures, which later on became the essential part of human life.

Like other tattoos, the tribal tattoos had black ink as part of indigenous culture. It used a hollow needle that required locally available stuff like either bone, porcupine’s quill, bamboo peaks, and other naturally available sharp and dull objects. The palates later needed local pigments, which used red as well as yellow for inking.


Everything in life has a purpose, some we find out, some we do not care, but everything has to have a purpose! The first tribal tattoos include a blended tradition of Maori, Samoan, & Polynesian styles. The use of tribal tattoo indicated the wearers as members of certain tribal groups. It acted as their identity and determined social status as well. The tribal tattoos also showed one involved in either medicinal rituals or religious ones.

The shapes used in the tribal tattoo art had animals and some natural elements associated with tribal life. The patterns modifications would tell a distinct story each time. Even the warriors added the tribal tattoos with animal prints and sometimes nature-inspiring ones that reflected the strength, courage, and power of the warrior in battles. Some sea-based images were also familiar as tribal life originated from near the ocean and existed for a long time around the sea.


When we try to talk about the types of tribal tattoos, we may fail to add all the classes or keep each one under the same type. They come from certain tribes. One can divide them into the tribal groups itself. But it can still be tricky to do that, as there can be indefinite tribal tattoos. Let’s break this challenge and classify the tribal tattoo in terms of their existence & modification, i.e., traditional & modern tribal tattoos:

Traditional Tribal Tattoo

Traditional tribal tattoo indicates the one that is under the category of original tribal tattoos. The original authentic tribal designs fall under this category. There are rarely the remains of the unique traditional tribal tattoos because most of them have already got that modern element. But there still are some groups of people or cultures that have been strictly following the traditional designs. The one among many includes the tribes in Africa that have always been using the original tribal designs that have been in existence from long generations. Similarly, another popular group of the Maori also have been saving unique tribal tattoos. They are from New Zealand.

When it comes to a traditional art form in tribal tattoos, Ta Moko designs are well recognized. These are again from the Maoris. They have their definition of the word tattoo, which means bodily adornments. The paramount significance of tribal tattoos through traditional backgrounds are also well defined by them. They have not just used the tribal tattoos to display a person’s status but as a source of inner spiritual strength.

Modern Tribal Tattoo

Every other tribal tattoo that is not the original one is a modern tribal tattoo. The modern one sincerely has the same old element of classic design and augment, but in a different modified way, giving a new design and finish. It can also be the combination of different types of traditional tribal tattoo or the one which is a mixture of tribal tattoos from different societies or tribes. There can be different symbols or little modification of the shapes.

Even with the modern tribal tattoos, one can get different subtypes underneath. They can be primary to the prominent source. There are types based upon the tribes themselves. Either can be Maori tribal tattoos to Celtic or even Hawaiian.


  • Borneon Tribal Tattoo: The Borneon Tribal Tattoos are one of the most popular among the tribal tattoos. But they are mostly copied from various other tribes. Even Kayan Kenyah, as well as Bakatan forms, are used to make the Borneon forms. They have been used for a long time using only the thick black lines and sometimes variation in color.
  • Hawaiian Tribal Tattoo: The Hawaiian tribal tattoos are the traditional or the original ones that come as an influence of Western colonies. They include mainly black and bold lines along with some unique geometric shapes. The shapes include essential trees, sun, moon, stars, waves, flowers, etc.
  • Maori Tribal Tattoo: This tribal tattoo belongs to the original aboriginal people of a small society in New Zealand. These include the unique tribal tattoos. The facial tattoos ideas come from Maori, and some sacred groups of people is still following it strictly.


Tribal tattoos fall under the most popular tattoos in the world, which has made it people’s first choice when it comes to tattooing. The designs are straightforward, along with unusual patterns, and the result is so majestic that anyone will fall in love with your tribal tattoo at first sight. Because being black ink dominating, with age, there won’t be any fading of the tattoo. But removing it or covering it might be a tough task as compared to other tattoos.

The tribal tattoos are popular among everyone and have no specific genre who wears it. But it is more prevalent among youngsters. Those who are into Boxing, Kung Fu, Karate, etc. wear with tribal tattoos. Similarly, bodybuilders are also often seen to be more attracted to tribal tattoos. It is equally famous among celebrities, even rappers.


The meaning of tribal tattoo depends upon which group of people is describing it, or which group of people initiated it. It varies from every single design depending upon the culture it refers. Moreover, every symbol or shape or image that comes under tribal tattoo has its meaning. It also relies on the designer of the tribal tattoo and the information he/she has.

If we talk specifically on the meaning of tribal tattoos, we cannot forget the Ta Moko tattoos, which come from Maori. They have the most significant implications. They include tattoos that cover the face of people with unique and outstanding patterns. Not very common, but amazing tattoos are included in it, which hold significant meaning.


There is an absolute belief among the Maori. They believe dead people are invisible to naked eyes, and light can pass through their bodies. But wearing a tribal tattoo with bold black thick lines, the light would not go inside the tattoo, making them visible to their loved ones, including friends and families even after death.

The meaning varies from one tribe to another. Tribal tattoos have great spiritual significance. They were worn for protection of their bodies against the demons or evils as described in their holy books. Moreover, the meaning of tribal tattoos will also depend upon the ornamentation values. Sometimes, people wear it because it has attractive and unique patterns.

The people from various backgrounds, including soldiers, slaves, criminals, traders, and explorers, defined their tribal tattoos differently, making it have differed from place to place. Thus, the implications are infinite and are evolving, modified, and getting unique.


Preparation of getting a tribal tattoo includes every procedure that getting a regular tattoo shall consist. If you want to get a tribal tattoo, then you need to do a research first. Either through magazines or articles online, you can find a suitable one for you to begin. If you already know a tattooist who has a lot of experience in inking tribal tattoos, you can directly consult him/her.

Once you are sure what tattoo design you want to ink on yourself, you are halfway to success. It has to be the most crucial step as you can hardly remove or cover a tribal tattoo. Better be rigid with your decision and make a proper study behind the design you are getting inked. Finding adequate tattooist is another difficult task. You might require a lot of time to find a perfect tattooist who can understand the vibe behind the tattoo you are about to ink on yourself. If the tattooist has experience with tribal tattoos, it will be more comfortable. The tattoo appearance solely depends on the one who is inking it.

It would be best if you also found a proper environment where you should begin the inking procedure. No matter how experienced or good skill the tattooist has, if the tattoo shop is dirty or messed up, you would better not get the inking. A clean tattoo shop and more unused needles or other equipment will only give you an infection-free or proper satisfying result. Keep the following things on mind:

Things to keep in mind:

  1. The entire tattoo shop should appear clean with no junks or rusts, also no dirt and dust.
  2. There should be an autoclave for the sterilization of needles, you better consult, ask, and view it yourself.
  3. The tattoo artist should make the use of gloves.
  4. The artist should use fresh or new needles right from the new packets instead of applying the used ones.
  5. Viewing his/her experienced work or getting feedback from the people s/he has already inked before.

It is essential to find out the works of your tattoo artist. You can ask him or her straight in the face to share the experience of tattooing tribal designs before. Moreover, you can consult with the people who have inked it previously, and if they are satisfied with the work. It is how you save yourself from the hand of the inexperienced or amateur tattooist and maybe from the blunder inks.

Also See: 50 Dapper Conch Piercing Ideas That Will Entice You To Get One


Once you have found the perfect person or tattoo artist, you should again discuss your idea of getting the specific tribal design. Feedback of tattoo artist surely helps you to make any small modifications. It will guide you more. You should choose the date of getting inked yourself. If the tattooist is not free, reschedule but do not compromise the date when you are feeling low or not ready for getting the ink.

The day you are fearless, you get the inking done. Because the tattoo gun will add more pain if your immune system is already low or you are scared or not ready for the tattoo. Therefore, have patience and do not panic. While you are getting the inking done, keep on looking at it in times and visualize it with the final one. This way, the tattooist won’t add or mix up designs. It is how you get your plans instead of a random modification.


A tribal tattoo will cost somewhere near about a random tattoo in your nearest tattoo shop. It depends upon the quality of the needle, ink, and experience of the artist as well. Moreover, it will depend upon the size of the tattoo you want to ink!

The custom cost of a random tribal tattoo sometimes is as little as 50 bucks. But this has to be the minimum cost worldwide. If the size increases for entire sleeve, to the chest, or even back, the price will be as much as 1000 bucks.
Sometimes, the charge fee depends upon hourly service instead of size. Because there is a lot of use of ink in the tribal tattoo, the price can be even higher in some stores. So, it depends upon the criteria of the tattoo shop.

It would be best if you did not worry about getting tattooing done at a lesser price because it is a lifetime thing. If something goes wrong, like the transmission of disease due to used needles can be harmful to life. The use of inferior ink can also lead to the poor appearance of the tattoo.


When we talk about mainly styling it, we think of only the modern tribal tattoos. When a tribal tattoo is worn out of belief or with some deeper meaning, the styling matters little. We need to know the styling techniques for making a beautiful appearance or wearing it solely for style.

Modern tribal tattoos are unique and somehow resembling only little with the traditional but. But they are attractive! You can get a tribal tattoo inked at distinct body parts depending upon the appearance you wish to achieve. Moreover, adding barbed, flowing & tangled styles will resemble the traditional style with a modern touch. You can style this way as well.


Getting a tribal tattoo can be more painful than getting a random tattoo. It is because of thick ink lines. The healing will be comparatively the same. It would be best if you waited until the healing is over. Till then, try your best to avoid all kinds of infections.

Tattooing will injure your skin cells. Thus, it would be best if you took a lot of care—an infection results in losing a part of the organ or limb to losing a life. Therefore, you should never make an infection so lightly. Moreover, getting a tattoo has various stages; the healing stage is the most important one.

If you find some unusual feeling around your tattoo area, do not google the symptoms instead of visiting the doctor. You should not take the slightest or minor thing lightly. It might hamper later on.

The tattoo artist will work as you to bandage the area inked after certain days of inking you. In some cases, they might call you for a revisit to check on your tattoo. Wearing a bandage will avoid infections, and this is highly recommended even for the smallest tattoo.

You can also find some antibacterial soap to clean the area instead of some random soap. It will help to keep the area clean and germ-free. But cleaning should be done gently by avoiding any scratches or abrading of skin roughly. Moreover, rubbing is strictly prohibited, no matter how itchy the area is!

It would be best if you kept the area clean as well as dry. The dry area often has fewer chances of spreading bacteria. Open wounds will be more infectious. You can also get an antibiotic pill to be on the safe side once you get the tattoo.


Since ancient tribes had different tattoos for different occasions, it is curious that the practice has been revived today, with most tribes long gone. Below are some reasons as to why a modern person with no ties to a particular tribe may wear these tattoos:

  • Their symbolism defines the wearer’s passions and identity.
  • Everyone has the basic tribal need to belong, and these tattoos give some a sense of that.
  • As an expression of uniqueness, and one’s freedom.
  • They grant one a kind of connection to ancient, mystic, and mysterious activity.
  • More information and imagery of the tattoos are available. Therefore their awareness has spread.
  • For the pure love of art.

So now that you have a lot of information on the issue and are sure to make a right decision if you decide to get a tattoo, just be sure to check in at a certified tattooists’ parlor, who is reputable, hygienic, knowledgeable, and last but not least, courteous, so you get a piece you will never regret having in the future!


When we talk about tribal tattoos, we think about strength. Thus, men are quite more fond of tribal tattoos than women. They have fascination expressions with artistic designs. Everything is under precision and accuracy. They resemble man’s masculinity, along with bravery, power, and confidence.

Find some types or ideas below:

Tribal Tattoo Full Sleeve Idea

A full sleeve means a lot of tattoo work! But this has an outstanding result. Many men wear full sleeve tribal tattoos. They are mainly Polynesian ones. Primarily wrestlers, bodybuilders, and men with a massive body like to ink tribal tattoo over their entire arm!

Bold Maori Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo

It is similar to the above idea but in a half sleeve. You can add turtle shells and even lotus flower that will represent rebirth, positive vibes, and happiness. The appearance is mind-blowing.

Bold Maori Tribal Tattoo in Back

The tribal tattoo in the back means a lot of artwork & inks! You can do plenty of creativity with it. Adding symmetric Polynesian tattoos will be amazing. Bold Maori tribal tattoo looks best in the back with all the geometric shapes & designs.

Samoan Tribal Leg Tribal Tattoo Idea

Legs are also quite popular spot for getting tribal tattoos. You can see an amazing result in the picture below.

Samoan Chest & Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo

This tattoo originates from the Polynesian tribe, where the chest is mostly famous for inking. Samoan Chest tattoo describes masculinity and all the power or strength of bearing the emblem. The use of data, shark teeth and other symbols enhances the tattoo. This tattoo grabs all the attention. All the compliments will be on your way!

Modern Samoan Sleeve & Chest Tribal Tattoo

This one has a modern twist along with traditional art form. It has all the geometric features like circles, spirals, lines, curves, large sections with black inks, and everything that makes the design more beautiful. They symmetric patterns add more life to the geometric patterns. They look appealing to the eyes.

Maori Shoulder & Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo

Maori represents a tribe of New Zealand that has its unique features. Their tattoos are mostly curvilinear and intricate spirals. It gives alluring appearance along with the use of unique patterns or symbols. It is the only style with least thick lines but rather thin curves. They look amazing on arms exceeding to chest or back.



There are specific ideas that are worn by women. But there is no such gender bar when it comes to tribal tattoos.

Tribal Tikki & Sun Design Tattoo

Tribal Tikki and Sun tattoo is something that describes extreme black and bold. The sun goes well with the moon together, and there are various tattoos with a pair of sun and moon. It represents or means merging the opposite natures. It also represents harmony and how important is the merging of different kinds for a better life.

The combination of precise lines or geometric patterns along with ‘enata’ and the sun makes it amazing in appearance. Enata is one of the common motifs in Polynesian tat that shows the relationships among the gods, humans, and life experiences. Sun is also a symbol of power or strength.

When the sun is around the moon, it means opposites are merging. But when enata covers the sun, it means God is there to protect the life of the bearer.

Geometric Tribal Tattoo

The geometric tribal tattoo has its origin from Hawaiian & Samoan tats. This one has some straight lines that have a repetitive nature. This one is mainly for a woman, but these days it has nothing to do with gender. It is equally worn by men too. The meaning behind a geometric tribal tattoo is reverence and expression of authenticity.


Tribal tattoos have been worn well by the celebs. Some of them have worn them amazingly. Especially male celebrities, including film stars, boxers, athletes, etc. have been seen with tribal tattoos. Dwayne “The Rock” has to be remembered when it comes to tribal tattoos as he has worn it amazingly. He has made it more common among the other wrestlers as well as actors too.

Similarly, talking about the recent series Game of ThronesJason Momoa, as very popular Khal Drogo, has worn the tribal tattoos very well. He is rocking the DC superhero movie Aquaman with the same enthusiasm! Therefore, tribal tattoos are trendy among celebs.

Some fashionable women celebrities like Daniella Pineda & Kate Del Castillo have breathtakingly worn the tribal tattoos, leaving everyone speechless. Moreover, Faith Evans has slayed the tribal tattoo alone her waistline in her bikini suit.



So this is the end of the article. To summarize it, tribal tattoos have the most significant meaning. From generation to generation, it is going on. They are eye-catching. There are plenty of options if you are looking into getting one. If its traditional meaning influences you, go for it. If you are looking for some appealing patterns, still go for it. Though it has some Native American blood cultures, anyone can get one. Classic or modern, anyone will be the right choice. It is a worldwide trend among tattoos.

Are you inspired to get one? Did you find what you were looking for? Was the article helpful? Do you know some tribal motifs that might be missing in this article? Feel free to share.

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