Tribal tattoos are no longer used as identification. Therefore, when someone chooses a tribal design to ink in his or her skin, it’s in fact a form of individualization. During ancient times, members of tribes used to get similar tattoos because they were supposed to be recognized by other tribes. Things were much complicated back then, considering they didn’t have proper tools for tattooing and ink as well. However, the poking technique was widely practiced and it is sometimes applied these days. Even so, if you want a tribal tattoo, this doesn’t mean you can’t get it done with modern tattooing machines.

Dating back to almost 5 thousand years ago, tribal tattoos are very expressive, rich, passionate, and ferocious. They are suited for both men and women. Usually men choose to get such tattoos on chest, arms, legs, back, shoulders, buttocks and sometimes face. As for females, they go for neck, back, arms and legs. In addition, these tattoos had various roles, such as expressing religious or spiritual belief, camouflaging in the woods, and healing.

Types of Tribal Tattoo Designs

There are different types of tribal tattoos. The most known types are Aztec, Samoan, Polynesian, Indian, Hawaiian, Egyptian, Mayan, and Maori. Each has its own particularities, but they can also be combined. The designs are usually made of short line elements, circles, patterns utilizing lines and/or chevrons. Moreover, one technique in particular, called blackwork, consists in inking large sections of solid black. These are usually picked under the form of black bands. You might have seen that blackwork tattoos are increasingly more popular.

Maori tattoos were met on men and women, especially on their faces. Men had a larger face surface covered than women. These days, Maori tattoos are predominantly chosen to decorate men’s chests. As for Haida tattoos, they were influenced by astrology and also depicted animals, such as beavers, bears, thunder birds, and fish. In addition, Borneo tattoos were used to depict symbols of protection, such as scorpions, dogs, dragons, flowers and spirals. The Hawaiian tribal tattoos consisted of symbols like orchids, the Gecko lizard, sea sharks, sea turtles, and so on. Another well known type of tribal tattoo is the Polynesian tattoo.

Pain Expectancy vs. Your Personal Tolerance

The bold, dark lines that are usually found in a tribal tattoo might cause more pain than thin ones. However, if you think about it, the tattoo artist will choose shading needles, fact which means that pain will be lower. Even so, the outline of any tribal tattoo has to be drawn with a liner. This means you will have to endure a pinching sensation for an extended period of time in case you’re going for a large design. Another factor that you should consider is the body area you’re going to ink. Pain levels depend on the tattoo’s vicinity to bones or sensitive skin.

Take the Aftercare Stage Seriously

Filling the blank spaces evenly is definitely not an easy job for a tattoo artist. After he or she is done inking, you’ll have to take extra care of your tattoo if you want to keep it intact. The healing stage is really important in case of tribal tattoos because they contain more black areas than others. This means that any mistake will leave the coloring uneven. So, what you need to do is wash it and put cream on it. Wearing clothes over your new tattoo is acceptable, as long as they are made or cotton, not synthetic. Also, don’t forget about the patching method using special strips for tattoos.

Break Your Piggy Bank for a Tattoo

Such type of tattoo is worth paying for. There are various tattoo artists who are specialized in inking tribal tattoos. They are familiar with the technique, are more knowledgeable and they can guarantee you an amazing result. Depending on the artist you choose, he or she may have an hourly fee ranging between $50 and $300. Other factors such as size, placement and color may influence the price of your tattoo. There’s no way to estimate it before picking and artist and asking around. Even so, a work of art on your skin is worth every penny!

1. Tribal tattoo on ribs

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This is a tribal tattoo design that spreads over a woman’s ribs and belly. It consists of flower patterns and other decorative shapes and lines.

2. Large Maori tattoo on chest

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Except the small tribal tattoos located on this guy’s hand, he also has a large Maori chest tattoo. The latter has the ability to enhance this man’s masculinity and is visually appealing too.

3. Sea shells on a woman’s thigh

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Turtle shells and sea shells are popular motifs for Polynesian tattoos.

4. A feminine tribal tattoo design

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This hand tattoo was customized to comprise feminine elements as well. Any design can be reinterpreted by an artist in order to look unique and characterize the wearer.

5. Tribal designs for neck and shoulder

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This daring woman chose a design that naturally flows from her neck down on her shoulder. She chose ocean elements and flower motifs.

6. Small tiled geometrical shaped hand tattoo

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Symmetry isn’t a prerequisite of a tribal tattoo, but it does look lovely on this woman’s wrist!

7. Koru designs for a feminine side tattoo

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Koru depicts new beginnings, growth and harmony. In addition, it can be part of feminine tattoos because of its flowing shape.

8. Centered back tattoo for females

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This back tattoo is positioned in the middle of this woman’s back, retaining her feminine shape. It consists of symmetrical lines.

9. Tribal decoration for foot

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Totally random designs meant to embellish various body parts can be drawn using the tribal technique. This is a good example!

10. Waves, spirals and whatnot

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A full back composition, this one incorporates various symbols. The ones that can be easily recognized are the waves and the spirals.

11. Flowers and geometry in one

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Another decorative tattoo, this one includes flowers and geometrical shapes. Starting from the neck, down to her middle back, it is symmetrical.

12. Tribal Eye of Ra

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This person has chosen the Eye of Ra to ink on his or her wrist. The style is tribal and it symbolizes protection and healing.

13. Three mighty arrows

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These flawlessly inked arrows add a touch of mightiness and fearlessness to a delicate woman. Situated on her ribs, this tattoo is elegant and meaningful.

14. Strength, long life, and wisdom

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The turtle that you can see part of this tribal tattoo is a symbol of strength, long life, and wisdom. It is mostly chosen by guys rather than girls.

15. Small components in a great design

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The combination between spirals and curves, as well as the proper shading results in a large masterpiece for a man’s arm and shoulder.

16. A guy’s t-shirt

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Such tribal tattoos are so complex and cover such a large portion of skin that they are considered t-shirts. Men tend to opt for this version that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

17. Long, feminine lines for legs

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This tattoo is made of long lines and spirals, plus other decorative elements. It’s not symbolic of something, but it does create an elongation effect for her leg.

18. Haida tribal tattoo for back

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This unique back tattoo is part of the Haida type. It spreads on a woman’s back, highlighting her femininity and strength at the same time.

19. Supernatural power with a Gecko

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The Gecko lizard was believed to be a symbol of supernatural power. This is a Hawaiian tribal tattoo combined with multiple other decorative lines and curves.

20. The almighty dragon

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A motif chosen by both men and women, the mighty dragon can be inked in black and white or even colored. As for placement, you can often find it on the back or arm.

21. Geometric designs on the shoulder

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Since tribal tattoos date back 5 thousand years, some geometric patterns might have lost their initial meaning. Even so, they do create an unexpected visual effect.

22. Red and Black Symbol Tattoo

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While some symbols are recognized by anyone, some of them might not be that popular. You can find a symbol that suits you and combine it in a tattoo like this one.

23. A corner of nature on arm

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Mother nature can be represented in multiple ways on skin. This is one of the possible approaches.

24. Random, yet harmonious

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While this tribal design is just for show, it is still a harmonious composition. It goes great on thick arms because it highlights one’s muscles and masculinity.

25. The ocean and some more

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The most recognizable sign from this design is the one for the ocean. This could be a nautical tattoo or a combination of multiple types.

26. Tribal opposite to Jamie Fox’s

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If you know the type of tribal tattoos Jamie Fox has, then you can see a clear difference between them and this these ones. Although these are high in details and less lout, they practically mean the same thing.

27. Tribal wings and a cross

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Certain tribal designs are suited for the delicate body of a woman. This one for example depicts wings and a cross that’s placed on the middle of her back.

28. Turtle shells and flowers

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If you look closely at this tattoo, you’ll identify the symbol for turtles shells and flowers as well. This tattoo seems to be acompanied by the name of a person or region.

29. Manly tribal tattoo for arm

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A decade ago, if not more, these designs were really popular. This doesn’t mean people don’t get tribal tattoos these days anymore. They do, but they combine them with extra elements.

30. Polynesian tattoo on a woman’s shoulder

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This is a Polynesian tattoo design that incorporates the Marquesan cross.

31. Say yes to birds

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Any pattern can be changed into a tribal sketch.

32. A representation of the Sun

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The sun can be represented in multiple ways. This is just one type of drawing part of the Polynesian Sun collection.

33. A touch of tough femininity

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Women with tattoos are considered courageous by many people. Getting a tribal tattoo and combining it with flower elements is like putting delicate and strong elements in one.

34. Neck and back tribal designs

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Spirals a flowers are both positive and happy symbols. United by geometric shapes and different levels of inking, they confer a much-desired effect.

35. Sea turtle in a more modern style

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This sea turtle isn’t a typical one, but it can be considered a more modern tribal version.

36. Modern tribal tattoo across the chest

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This tattoo is modern because the traditional way say a man’s chest must be divided in two.

37. Waves and spirals for men

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The ocean, the waves and the spirals blend in perfectly.

38. Haida tribal tattoo on the back

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This is a traditional Haida tattoo placed on a person’s back. It depicts the well-known Thunderbird.

39. Tribal sleeve for men

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This is a tribal sleeve for men. None of the patterns are identical and everything has a way of fitting together.

40. Tribal zodiac pieces

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Tribal zodiac tattoos are also a thing. The one above is the perfect example. It also comes with a text that says “Live to love. Love to live.”

41. Tiki and the ocean

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The inner arm seems to be inked with Tiki’s profile. Tiki was believed to be a sort of semi-god in ancient cultures.

42. A very complex work of art

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There is no doubt that tattoos are art. You can incorporate a story or symbolic elements in one big piece like the one above.

43. Tribal patterns on foot

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Nowadays, women get inked on their feet to draw attention to them. However, this wasn’t the initial reason why women did it.

44. Shiva done in a tribal style

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Shiva isn’t really connected to the ancient tribes or it is connected more or less. However, the tribal tattooing style works nicely for it.

45. A multitude of symbols in one

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Once you recognize the basic elements from tribal tattoos, you can figure out which ones are included.

46. Curvy tribal lines for a Mandala

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The curvy tribal lines are excellent for drawing Mandalas with. Placed on the forearm, this tattoo design is really popular right now.

47. Masculine tattoo design tribal style

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The design chosen by this guy is really masculine. It spreads on his back and arm.

48. Thick bracelets for wrists/forearms

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A tattoo is definitely an accessory, so going for tribal bracelets is a great idea.

49. Eye of Ra in a bird

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If you look closely, you’ll see the Eye of Ra appearing multiple times in this design.

50. Doodling tribal symbols

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This doesn’t really look like a real tattoo, but more like doodles.

51. Huge masterpiece on the back

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The back is the perfect place for inking huge works of art.

52. Sea, shark teeth and turtles

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A chest tattoo, it includes symbols for sea turtles, shark teeth and sea.

53. Neck and shoulders composition

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The neck and the clavicles area are very sensitive and require a high degree of pain tolerance.

54. Half sleeve and shoulder design

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Polynesian patterns lie perfectly on thick arms and shoulders.

55. An accent of femininity

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The location and the chosen motifs are all about femininity.

56. Two tribal sleeves

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This woman is truly dedicated to the tribal tattooing style. She has done two sleeves and a necklace.

57. Gradient colors for a flowing design

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Tribal tattoos don’t have lots of color in them. However, they could.

58. A hidden message

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You can incorporate a hidden message in what it looks to be a regular tattoo.

59. Shave for tribal

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Shaving the side of the head and inking a tribal design there is more and more popular among women these days.

60. An octopus and a maze

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The meaning of this tattoo might be too personal to understand. However, he pulled it off with the visual impact.

61. Back and arms in tribal

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Another dedicated woman to the tribal style, she has both arms and her back inked with tribal motifs.

62. A simple turtle on the side

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The simplicity of this sea turtle is really cute.

63. Small turtle on the hand

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This small sea turtle looks extra cute too.

64. Decoration for the elbow

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The elbow is a very painful area to ink. That’s why this design is a great idea.

65. Basic shapes and lines

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Tattoo of basic shapes and lines, Polynesian style.

66. Symmetrical geometrical structure

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This is a modern design of a symmetrical, geometrical structure.

67. Custom design with modern touches

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A professional tattoo artist can draw customized patterns for you.

68. Identical sleeves for arms

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Symmetry isn’t required for tribal tattoos, but it sure looks good!

69. Tribal designs for fingers

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Although finger tattoos don’t last long, they are still popular.

70. Symmetric neck and shoulder tattoo

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Edgy, daring and not so feminine, this tattoo is all about symmetry on the neck and shoulders.

71. An hourglass with wings

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72. An extension on hands

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Forearm tattoos can extend on hands and often do.

73. An armor made of ink

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Passion and dedication can lead to large tattoo with impressive visual effects.

74. Small symbols for fingers

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Women don’t only wear rings these days. They wear tattoos and rings on their fingers.

75. Dotwork for a geometric design

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The dotwork technique can be used for tribal tattoos as well.

76. Interesting mandala on thigh

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Some mandalas are standard, while others can be fully customized.

77. Full chest symmetry in ink

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Definitely a customized design, this one fits perfectly on this guy’s body.

78. Simple, yet graceful decorations

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Identical, simple and graceful, these decorations are located on a woman’s legs and back.

79. A sleeve that tells a story

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Such sleeve is more than a tribal tattoo. It tells a story and incorporates various other elements.

80. Full back and sleeve decorations

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Implying a lot of work and multiple tattooing sessions, this woman’s design is going to become a full body transformation.

81. An arrow for good luck

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Defense and protection are among the meaning of an arrow tattoo. In addition, you can see feathers with beans, which are also very significant.

82. A blue Marquesan cross

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There’s nothing special about this tattoo except its blue color.

83. Idea for a hand tattoo

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Definitely drawn with a pen, this could be an idea for a hand tattoo.

84. Mandalas and lotus flowers

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Now this is a person who’s truly passionate of mandalas!

85. Flowery design for hand

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A woman’s hands are considered a beautiful part of her body. If your job doesn’t stop you, you too can get such feminine decorations in ink.

86. Feminine curves marked by tattoos

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This lady has basically marked her curves with a tattoo. Careful though, because the skin in that area is very sensitive and it could hurt a bit!

87. Borneo tribal tattoo in blackwork

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A Borneo design, this one involves mostly blackwork. It is symmetrical and spreads on a man’s chest and abs.

88. Lotus flowers and mandalas as jewelry

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Some tattoos really look like jewelry and this one is not an exception. Made of lotus flower shapes and organized as mandalas, these tattoos are fascinating.

89. Tryouts with Henna, not permanent ink

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Henna tattoos are an alternative to real, permanent tattoos. In this way, you can see if you really like the design and whether or not you would like to keep it.

90. Thick lines in black

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Seemingly random thick lines decorate a woman’s thigh, giving it depth and dimension.

91. Fancy arms lining

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Thick chick looks fancy and stylish thanks to her tattoos, jewelry and attitude as well.

92. Hands and chin tattoos

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Chin tattoos were actually a thing a really long time ago when people were organized in tribes.

93. A regular nonagon and a tribal design

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What’s more intriguing than the tribal design is the nonagon that’s under it and inked in red. This is a great example of how you can combine two different styles in one. They can actually merge.

94. Tribal bracelet pattern for your arm

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Women are known to wear arm bracelets for a long time now. You can turn a simple jewelry in a tattoo if that’s how much you like it. This model is quite large and makes her arm look a bit fierce, but that’s probably what she wanted in the first place. You can design your own tattoo or find a professional to do it for you.