Native American cultural body art designs have always been popular, particularly with those who are fascinated with these indigenous people however they are also popular with those descended from one of the many tribes that made up this race. These include Cherokee tribal tattoos, which are deemed to be among one of the oldest Native American designs around. Having migrated south from the Great Lakes area where they had lived since ancient times, the Cherokee tribe settled in the South Eastern part of the United States around the areas now know as the Deep South in the states of South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Today, while there numbers have diminished considerably over the centuries they are still one of the largest Native American nations in the country so let us take a look at how their tattoos varied from different tribes in other regions.
To the untrained eye, many Native America designs look very similar however each individual tribe had their own variations of each inanimate object and Cherokee tribal tattoos can be quite distinctive if you know what to look for. As a culture, these tribes had one thing in common; a reverence for nature and many of their beliefs, customs and legends revolve around this theme. Tattoos have been used by these tribes to decorate their bodies for centuries and many of these designs incorporated animals, plants and celestial bodies inked on the skin using needles made from fish bones. The dyes used to pigment the skin were all made of natural ingredients sourced entirely from the land around them and the patterns used to make up each design were extremely intricate in detail. However while men often had animal images tattooed on their skin – often to represent the individual’s totem guide – Cherokee women were never inked with these particular images. This was because men were predominantly hunters so they needed to harness these animalistic tendencies within them selves for a successful hunt while women were deemed to have a potent feminine power that could be unleash a negative influence. Instead, they were inked with symbols relating to their ability to conceive and reproduce which was believed to be as a result of this supreme force within them.
Like many tribes around the globe, the Cherokees did not have what we would recognize as a traditional alphabet and their language consisted of symbols in place of words, many of which make up a vast number of Cherokee tribal tattoos today. Favourite images associated with this tribe include the Cherokee eagle eyes, a symbol of vigilance and courage in battle, the tribal seven pointed star which is a poignant symbol for peace and the rattle snake a powerful totem associated with the power of life over death as well as wisdom and learning. Many of the original tribal tattoos began as a single section on one part of the body and over the years this would be extended and added to over the course of a lifetime so that the individual’s entire history would eventually be mapped on their body in ink telling the comprehensive story of their lives.