The tribal tattoos make at least one third of the total number of tattoos made by people. There are a great number of reasons for choosing tribal tattoos for the body decoration.
The symbolism of these tattoos varies according to their origin. But irrespective of the reasons for choosing tribal tattoos, they belong to the most popular kinds of tattoos in the world.
Although the tribal tattoos have different meaning, most of them are made for the same reasons. These can be some events of life (marriage, initiation ceremony) or spiritual and mystic reasons. At the time of marriage, the tribal tattoos acted as wedding rings. Besides, it was regarded that these tattoos would help the married couple to find each other in the next world.
The tattoos had different meanings and notations for different tribes. For the American Indians, the tattoos represented their culture, religious beliefs, spirit or nature. Hawaiian tribes wore tattoos as some kind of “identity card”, for protection or as the expression of mourning. And the Maori tribes used tattoos to express courage.
Pictures of animals played an important role in tribal tattoos. The meaning of tattoo varied according to the depicted animal. For example, the bear expressed good nature or success. The butterflies symbolized spiritual immortality. The eagle was the sing of power and enlargement of the mind. The tattoo was considered to give its owner the strengths of the animal and provided the spiritual bond with it.
The tribal tattoos could both present the person and reveal some of his/her features. For example, the men avoided those women who couldn’t make tattoos because of pain intolerance. It was believed that they could die in childbed, and don’t give birth to the heirs. For the same reasons, the man was considered to be unfit for fight or hunt, and was often doom to be a derelict.
The choice of tribal tattoo depends on the place of supposed making. The tribal tattoos can be made on almost every part of the body: leg, ankle, shoulder, hand, loins or back.