Tribal tattoos: the origins

A tattoo of his already refers to ancient tribal rites , and actually the “fashion” comes from the distant islands of the Pacific where having a symbol engraved on the skin was a sign of great courage, maturity but also of belonging. Tribal tattoos, in history, are born precisely as symbols of recognition and belonging to a certain social class. Or of valor, for the deeds of a certain tribe.

We do not know the exact origin of the tattoo, when it was born and who was the first people to use it as a form of non-verbal communication. Surely, over 5,000 years ago, the use of symbols drawn on the skin was already a reality. In fact, a mummy dating back to that time was found in the Alps with symbols already drawn on its skin.

The tattoo was in the past considered a symbol of strength, courage, belonging to a certain social class, or it was used to ward off the evil eye, or it was still tattooed to be protected by the gods.

Among the peoples who have used tattoos in the past in a more marked way are the Maori, the Samoans, the Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Celts, the Shiites, the Filipinos, the natives of America, the Eskimos, the Hawaiians, the Thaithians and many other peoples.

Today, the West has adopted and inflated them. Tattoo  is now any writing or drawing engraved on the skin. But some still love the ancient symbols, although the word “tribal” in the tattoo vocabulary does not exclusively indicate signs of African or Polynesian origin. Tribal, for us Westerners, and any symbol comes from non-European cultures .

Tribal tattoos for him and her

What are the favorite positions to get a tribal tattoo? Fashion indicates that the areas most tattooed with a tribal tattoo among men are:

  • arm and forearm;
  • legs and calves;
  • back;
  • shoulders;

For girls, on the other hand, the most tattooed areas become:

  • mani;
  • wrists;
  • behind the shoulder;
  • behind the ear;
  • ankles;
  • umbilical area;

But now let’s see which are the most requested, most beautiful tribal tattoos, with their meaning. Read on for our guide on tribal tattoos!

Tribal tattoos: the most tattooed symbols

Here are the main tribal tattoos, with their related meaning.

The scorpion

Present in almost all ancient tribal symbologies , the scorpion is capable of giving death with its sting but – given its small size – it also indicates courage in facing something greater than itself without fear.

The tribal scorpion is tattooed to indicate one’s determination, willpower and courage . It is one of the most requested tribal tattoos, especially by men.

The snake

Like the scorpion, the tribal tattoo of the snake is the bearer of death but also a symbol of great courage. In particular, given that it often sheds its skin, it is an indication of a character in continuous formation, of continuous rebirth and as such it is a symbol of life. Among the male tribal tattoos and among the most requested, but also women love the meaning of this tribal tattoo, deciding to imprint it on their skin.


This tribal tattoo is the female equivalent of the scorpion. The butterfly faces life with courage, knowing that it will have to die, and also “reborn” from the cocoon, therefore it indicates strength of will and desire for rebirth.

The butterfly is one of the most requested tribal female tattoos along with the Dragonfly which has the same meaning.

The lion

One of the most versatile symbols among tribal tattoos is that of the lion. It can have different meanings and all of them are important: courage, wisdom, intelligence, power, excess, loyalty .

For many it reminds us of Africa, and therefore the full meaning of the tribal tattoo. Required more by men than by women. 

Lotus flower

Usually he is represented together with a little bird, a hummingbird , trapped among its leaves.

Both symbols have the meaning of positivity, optimism, hymn to life . Both males and females require it indiscriminately, to symbolize having passed a negative period of one’s life.

The lotus flower is one of the most tattooed Japanese and oriental symbols in general in the world.

The gecko

The country lizard, the gecko, is represented as a good luck charm and a symbol of adaptation. Tribal tattoo widely used among the tribes of Oceania, it can also have the meaning of courage to live or an intermediary between man and God , as happens for example in the Polynesian tribes.

A twin tribal symbol of the gecko and certainly the Tortoise,  another symbol to which the indigenous peoples of Oceania are very attached.

Borneo Rose

A stylized, round flower, with 8 or maximum 10 petals , is a little known but very beautiful symbol to tattoo. This tribal tattoo signifies love, protection and long life as a couple . So you only need to tattoo it if you are really in love! Furthermore, it is performed according to very specific rules: the man must carry it on the shoulder while the woman must have it tattooed on the wrist or on the hands.

People linked by this symbol are united forever , despite the vicissitudes of life! A tattoo therefore with strong amorous and romantic colors.

Other highly sought-after tribal symbols

What are the other tribal symbols required for a tattoo? Here they are for you with their meaning:

  • Ax: warrior;
  • Whale: family and protection;
  • Dolphin – harmony, friendship;
  • Phoenix: immortality, eternity, renewal;
  • Cat: change, adaptability;
  • Owl –  knowledge, wisdom, magic;
  • Moon: femininity, fertility;
  • Wolf: faithfulness;
  • Manta: wisdom, elegance, freedom;
  • Swallow – freedom, good news, protection;
  • Pink – perfection, love;
  • Sun: eternity, life, joy;
  • Shark – adaptability, endurance;
  • Turtle: guide, family, navigator, longevity;
  • Tiki – fertility, protection;
  • Birds: freedom and communication with the gods;