The designs behind tribal tattoos are quite contemporary, but guess what? They’re actually the oldest forms of tattoos, having passed through many ancient civilizations before they got to us! As per their name, they were first started off by ethnic groups from Yore.
This type of tattoo is very popular today, as many actors, sports figures and musicians sport them. Angelina Jolie has a neo-tribal tattoo on her belly, Mike Tyson sports one on his face, Alyssa Milano from Charmed has a tribal tattoo on her nape, and so on. The list in endless!
One of the main causes of tribal tattoos increasing appeal to people is the ease of getting them. They are easy to draw, and relatively simple, so they don’t hurt a lot! New tattoo artists use this tattoo design as a starting point before moving on to more elaborate tattoo designs. Tribal tattoos, apart from being one of the simplest tattoos to etch, are also fairly symmetrical. They are drawn using circles, swirls, loops, sharp edges and moon-crescents integrated together.
In the olden days, tribal tattoos had a lot more significance than they do today. Getting a tattoo was a rite to achieve adulthood in a tribe. In some ethnic groups, a girl who could not bear the pain of tattooing was taken to be fragile and was bound to stay single because she supposedly did not have the tolerance to go through childbirth. If the same thing happened to a male, he was deemed to be a coward and incapable of joining in hunts.
The Maori tribe in New Zealand takes a lot of pride in their tribal art. The higher your rank in the tribe, the more complicated and elaborate the tattoos you sport! Hence, a tattoo that has been added on to suggests that you have risen in the ranks, with the chief having the most intricate design of all! The women of the Maori tribe tattoo their chins and lips.
Hawaiian tribes use tribal tattoos mostly to show symbolism. The people in these ethnic groups have strong belief in the tattoo gods. If they want to get a tattoo done, they will first pray to the tattoo gods asking for safekeeping during the tattooing process as well as for quick healing later. They also pray to ensure that their tattoo looks good and striking!
Polynesian tattoos, perhaps from the land of Samoa, are said to be the pioneers of the modern tattoo. James Cook, explorer of the seas, landed on the Polynesian Islands and when he traveled back to England in the 70s, his men sported tribal tattoos which are eerily similar to the neo-tribal designs popular today. These tattoos were inked on the chest and upper arms of the sailors.