One of the most popular and significant trends to come out of the tattooing industry in the past twenty years has to be those designs that feature tribal artwork be it Maori, Celtic, Polynesian, Hawaiian or Haida. However aside from making a strong visual impact these are also highly symbolic so let us take a look at some popular images and styles used for body art of this kind as we uncover the tribal tattoo meanings behind them.
The many different styles of tribal artwork involved in these designs include a variety of symbols, many of which are related to the natural world around these ancient civilizations such as plants, trees, birds, animals and even humans. These designs often feature interlacing swirling lines and spirals combined with inanimate object that look very masculine inked when on the skin in dark green, grey or black ink. However while these are predominantly chosen for their aesthetic value, each image used is also symbolic in its own right. While some tribal tattoo meanings vary from culture to culture, many offer similar attributes and characteristics that are easily recognizable once you understand what is involved in these designs. Celtic tribal artwork consists mainly of a variety of intertwining knot work, spirals and key patterns which at first glance appear somewhat random and completely abstract in nature. The Celts believed that the balance of body and soul was imperative to the individual’s well beings and that by adding lines that continually cross over and under each other built up a level of protection, thus the tattoo served as a talisman against evil. These infinite looping patterns were also deemed to represent the eternal cycle of life, which has no beginning and no end but continues forever in a continual circle.
Zoomorphic images are another favourite often used in these modern tribal designs to emulate the style of this ancient artwork that is as fascinating to look at as it is symbolic. From the ancient Celts to the tribes of the Polynesian tribes in the South Pacific, both land and sea animals were considered sacred and revered by civilizations around the globe. To look at these designs are somewhat abstract and often look like different things from differing angles, however this was not done accidentally as these were deliberately depicted in this manner to represent the shape-shifting attributes associated with these creatures. For an authentic take on these designs the image of a plant may be weaved into the knot work design and in doing so may develop the head, legs or claws of an animal. The overall interpretations of these tribal tattoo meanings is simply to symbolize a oneness with nature and to serve as a reminder that everything is connected and that everyone and everything is as one. Of course this is more apt for the larger designs so if you want just a single image be it a shark, turtle, flower or butterfly each inanimate object has its own individual meaning from strength and courage, to rejuvenation and transformation so if you want a tattoo that makes a personal statement about you, then there are plenty of tribal images available to choose from.