Tribal tattoos are one of the most fascinating tattoo designs. These designs actually date back to a couple of thousand years ago. It is believed that the first tattoos were inked as far back as the Bronze Age. Back in those times, tattoos were used to mark one’s belonging to a certain tribe. Of course they were not done the same way they are today.
Tribal tattoos were commonly worn by people of diverse races and cultures and the meaning of the tattoos differed depending on the culture or race of the wearer. Tattoos became a symbol of membership of a certain tribe, mostly used in European cultures.
Nowadays, tribal tattoos are very common among men and women. They are a fascinating way to express your artistic side. Mostly, tribal tattoos are black and not in color. When it comes to the size of the tribal tattoos, both men and women often go for designs that cover an entire area of the body, such as an entire arm, leg, or even half of your arm/leg. But, it is also possible to get a small tribal tattoo and we will show you some examples below.
Now, take a look at the best 37 tribal tattoo designs we have found for you!
37. Inner Arm Tribal Tattoo
The greatest thing about tribal tattoos is that they can be very simple that you can design them yourself, if you want to. Some more sophisticated designs require you to know how to draw well, but when it comes to tribal tattoos you can just grab a pen and paper and try to come up with your own design.
36. Tribal Tattoo for Women
As mentioned before, both men and women get tribal tattoos. This woman decided to take a very feminine approach to her tribal tattoo by adding some flowers. The combination is excellent.
35. Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo
This is the type of tribal tattoo most of the men go for. Half sleeve tribal tattoos are very popular. The greatest thing about them is that no matter how many people have a tattoo on this area of the body, you can make yours unique. How? Well, by choosing your own symbols and patterns. There are also many different types of tribal tattoos, such as Maori or Polynesian tribal tattoos to choose from.
34. Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo II
Here is a second example of a half sleeve tattoo. Both tattoos use different symbols but have similar placement. For example, in this picture you can notice on the arm tiny fish-like symbols. Those indeed are fish, that have their own symbolic meaning. In ancient times, fish were a symbol of wealth (food) and security. So, they are usually regarded to as symbols of fertility, prosperity, life, and even riches as the man with the fish got the girl!
33. Feminine Tribal Tattoo
This tribal tattoo actually does have a little color in it, which is highly unusual. This design is so beautiful that it looks like an elegant piece of clothing. Definetely has an Indian vibe to it, don’t you think?
32. Amazing Female Tribal Tattoo
Why would you restrict yourself and get a tattoo only on one part of your body? Instead, you can use this woman for your inspiration. What she did is amazing! She “divided” her tribal tattoo on three different parts of her body. Looks amazing, doesn’t it? Completely wrapped around her.
31. Leg Tribal Tattoos
One of the greatest thing about tribal tattoos is that there is a lot of black ink. This is a great advantage because black tattoo ink doesn’t fade as fast as other colors. This leg looks like it gets a lot of sun! And that tattoo is gleaming.
30. Ear Tribal Tattoo
Do you remember when we told you how tribal tattoos can be tiny? This is what we had in mind; a small, behind-the-ear tribal tattoo! Many people go for tribal tattoos because of their large size; because they want a big or even huge tattoo on their body. However, there are also those who like the style of tribal tattoos, but are not ready to tattoo their entire arm or chest. That is why those people adapt tribal tattoos to suit their own, personal style. This one is all kinds of awesome.
29. Feminine Tribal Tattoos
What does a girl need to do in order to have her tribal tattoo considered feminine? Pay attention to this tattoo. The location is very important. However, many girls go for sleeve tattoos that also look feminine. The secret lies behind the symbols used. Tribal tattoos usually consist of thick, bold lines. Make those lines a bit more soft and curvy and your tattoo will be more feminine. The placement of tribal tattoos also makes a difference, around the chest and hips automatically make your lines, well, curve!
28. Sleeve Tribal Tattoo
One great thing about tribal tattoos is their bold visual appeal. The thick, black curving lines and interlocking patterns lend themselves well to many of the standard tattoo locations, such as the upper arm, back, lower back, or even legs. However, this bold appeal may also be a slight disadvantage. Make sure that the tribal tattoo is what you really want, because once you get it you will have a terribly hard time removing it. Also, covering them up with another tattoo won’t work either. Luckily for this guy, his choice was perfect.
27. Amazing Half Sleeve Tribal Tattoo
If you are considering getting a tribal tattoo, what is advised is that you do extensive research. Sure, tribal tattoos do look like an incredibly cool combination of lines and certain symbols. But, behind every line, every triangle and tiny rectangle lies a certain meaning. Also, there are various types of tribal tattoos, such as Samoan, Polynesian, Maori, etc. You need to be aware what your tattoo stands for and make sure that it represents you entirely.
26. Upper Body Tribal Tattoo
One of the greatest things about tribal tattoos is that they can start in one place and continue to a completely opposite side. This tattoo is a great example. It starts as a half sleeve tattoo, continues over the man’s chest and ends at his hips. What do you think about a tattoo this size, would you go for it?
25. Terrific Polynesian Tribal Tattoo
This is a great example of an Polynesian tribal tattoo. What is characteristic for these tattoos is that they have many various symbols incorporated in them. In this tattoo we can see a “marquesan cross.” The marquesan cross is very popular in Polynesian tattoo designs. Quite often, it is used to symbolize balance between elements and harmony. There are also many more symbols presented in this tattoo. Do you recognize any of them?
24. Colorful Tribal Tattoo
Tribal tattoos are mostly done in black, as we said. However, it is possible to incorporate color within your tribal tattoo, as long as it is a color that does not overtake the essence of the tattoo. Besides the amazing blending of colors, in this tattoo there is also one very important symbol present for the Polynesian culture. It is the so called “tiki.”
A tiki is a human-like figure that stands for Polynesian semi-gods. It presents deified ancestors and heads, who are sublimed after their death. A tiki usually has a guardian role and symbolizes protection.
23. Amazing Torso Tribal Tattoo
Looking for an amazing tribal tattoo that covers a large area of your body? Here is an incredible example! A great thing about a large tribal tattoo is that you can incorporate so many different symbols that you find important and that represent you and your character. And, when it comes to the tribal tattoos, there are so many symbols for you to choose from! I think it is safe to assume this one incorporates imagery from Hawaiian tribal art!
22. Simplistic Tribal Tattoo
Compared to some of the previous examples, you could say that this tattoo is simplistic. It depends on you how complex your tribal tattoo is. Some people prefer those designs that contain so many symbols together, while others find the designs that have more space between the symbols more attractive.
21. Sleeve Tribal Tattoos for Ladies
Once you choose the perfect tattoo design for you, then you will have to search for a tattoo artist that is able to make your tattoo look perfect. When it comes to tribal tattoos, the good thing about them is that they are very popular and common, so most artists have ad experience in creating something beautiful. As long as you don’t want a specific or traditional tribal, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a reputable tattoo artist that can design your custom tattoo.
20. Inspiring Tribal Tattoo Design
This is one of those amazing tribal tattoos you just can’t stop looking at. In this picture, there is one symbol that stands out. It is the circular symbol on the man’s chest. This symbol represents the sun. In tribal tattoo designs the sun often comes with some other symbol within them that expresses specific meaning. In Polynesian culture, the sun usually stands for brilliance, leadership, grandness, and even riches. The sun’s rising is connected to rebirth. However, the sunset does not symbolize death but a passageway to the world beyond.
19. Classic Tribal Tattoo
This is how a classic tribal tattoo looks like. It is characterized by a bold visual appeal. The tribal tattoo design usually features thick, black, curvy lines and interlocking patterns. Some of the most standard tribal tattoo locations are the upper arm, back, or lower back.
18. Wings Tribal Tattoo
WOW!!! You can use the characteristics of a tribal tattoo design to create other designs, such as wings. Wing tattoos can vary in size and color, however, their meaning mostly stays the same. Wing tattoos are a great way to express your love of freedom and movement. You can also dedicate your wings tribal tattoo to someone who has passed away or even to demonstrate your faith. This one is incredible.
17. Ocean Tribal Tattoo
This is an ocean tribal tattoo. Do you recognize the waves? Ocean waves are also present in many tribal tattoos we have shown you, but they are not the symbol that stands out the most. When it comes to those designs, waves can be used to fill in some blank blocks and shape patterns, but the wearer of the tattoo may also relate to their symbolic meaning. Sometimes, the ocean is the symbol of death since Polynesians considered the ocean as their final destination. It can also represent life, fertility, and persistence. Ocean waves are used to symbolize the other world beyond too, which is a homeland where all ancestors live, or where they’ll eventually be. We even know one sailor who has a a tattoo just like this.
16. Tribal Tattoo and a Flower
This picture and this particular tattoo are a great example that shows you how tribal tattoos can be mixed with other tattoos and symbols, such as flowers. Flowers stand for love, birth, unity, growth, and connection. We adore the mix of tribal + flowers on this arm.
15. Arm Tribal Tattoo for Men
14. Sun Tribal Tattoo Design
Sun tattoos usually look amazing and they can be done in tribal style. Sun represents a cosmic power and it has many symbolic meanings. Mostly a sun symbol represents life, power, strength, force, clarity, and self. Sun symbols were present even from the ancient times. For example, in ancient Egypt he sun is associated with the Horus, Ra, and Osiris. Horus represents the rising sun, Osiris the setting sun, and Ra represents the sun’s zenith. And in ancient Greek mythology, the sun is associated with Zeus, since the sun is the eye of Zeus.
Even though in many cultures the sun resonates with male power, it also represents the feminine powers in cultures such as the Celtic culture and this tribal sun tattoo just rocks. Sweet and to the point. POWER.
13. Wolf Tribal Tattoo
Wolves are really impressive creatures. They can stand for great power, but also, one’s dedication to his/her family. Wolf tattoos stand for wildness, strength, survival, freedom, family, and protection. A wolf tattoo can be your constant reminder that you are a strong warrior in your life, since one of the meanings of the wolf tattoo resonate with the warrior spirit. Wolf tattoos can also express the powerful sense of being a part of the whole, and galvanize the importance of your family. What do you think of this tribal wolf?
12. Leg Tribal Tattoos
Tribal tattoos look great on legs. men mostly ink their designs on the lower parts of their legs, while women prefer to have their tribal tattoo designs on their thighs. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Kinda like always wearing a pair of funky socks??
11. Attractive Feminine Tribal Tattoo
When done in right place, feminine tribal tattoos can be mysterious, secretive, and incredibly attractive. This tattoo is rarely entirely visible, but it can sometimes be seen even under the clothes and make people wonder what the entire design looks like.
10. Dragon Tribal Tattoo
Dragons are magnificent mythical creatures that have so many symbolic meanings. First of all, they can be associated with power, strength, ferocity, and a warrior within yourself. Dragons can be also be associated with wisdom, intellect, and perception. However, sometimes dragon tattoos can be used as lucky charms or symbols for protection. We particularly like the shading around this tattoo.
9. Manly Back Tribal Tattoo
Men love getting tribal tattoos on the parts of the bodies they are most proud of, especially if they work out. Some men love showing off their arms, some love showing off their legs, and others love to show off their backs! If you were to get a huge tribal tattoo, where would you get it? What part of your body would you love to show off? This one really accentuates the spine, don’t you think.
8. Feminine Upper Arm Tribal Tattoo
To make a tribal tattoo a bit more feminine, you can take a classical tribal tattoo design and make it less bold. Make the thick lines a bit thinner, and do not make them entirely black. Take what this woman did as an example. The tattoo looks a bit tough and cool, but it is still feminine. A perfect tattoos for ladies who want to show off their (inner) strength.
7. Manly Tribal Design
On the other hand, this is how a manly tribal tattoo design looks like. It is dark, it is bold and even looks tough! It is a great way for a man to show off his muscles and leave ladies wondering what the rest of the tattoo looks like. Kind of looks like armour, actually. He is ready for war.
6. Turtle Tribal Tattoo Design
It may sound a bit weird to you, but turtles are incredibly common in tribal tattoo designs. It is also one of the most important elements of the Polynesian culture. It can have many meanings and the most common ones are long life, wellness, fertility, union, family, and harmony. It can also symbolize the navigator. If it is possible to be cure AND tough, this tattoo shows how.
5. Leg Tribal Tattoos for Men
Did you know that even nowadays you can get a tribal tattoo the traditional way? However, you may have a hard time finding a tattoo artist who is capable of doing such a thing. A traditional way of getting a tattoo includes a chisel and a mallet. Basically, the tattoo artist hits the chisel with a mallet to place the pigment on the skin. This process can be very painful, but it is also bearable. Rihanna did it too! Check out the video here.
4. Maori Back Tribal Tattoo
Did you know that you have to be very careful when getting an imitation of a traditional tribal tattoo design? Sometimes, you may insult the original tribe members with your tattoo. This is especially the case Ta Moko, which is a form of family and personal identification of the Maori people. Copying their designs is considered as a form of identity theft and you should proceed with caution!
3. Entire Back Tribal Tattoo
2. Geometric Tattoo Design
Geometric tattoos are popular among ladies. They mostly consist out of straight lines, unlike the classic tribal tattoos. However, these tattoos look pretty amazing and resemble the symbols that could have been used by tribes in the old times.
1. Truly Incredible Tribal Tattoo
This is one of the most incredible tribal tattoos you are going to come across on the Internet. It is not great because of its size, or symbols, or meaning. It is incredible because of all the detail in it. The wearer of the tattoo really had to dedicate himself to come up with a design like this. And, of course, the tattoo artist had to be really amazing and skilled to create this work of art.