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Guide To Tribal Tattoos: History, Styles, and Artists

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Within the ancient history of humankind, the origin of all tattooing lies . In scattered places across the globe, tribal design for tattoos begins when the timeline of society begins . Black dots and lines are the main components of a vast culture behind tribal tattoos usually for ritualistic or sacred practices. We research more about the humble genesis of tattooing, how the oldest art form of humanity came to be, the overlapping history, styles and the contemporary artists who are keeping this ancient tradition current , In this article.

ALSO CHECK: Gide To Blackwork Tattoos: Origins, Styles, and Artists

History of Tribal Tattoos

tribal tattoos for men
tribal tattoos for men

Perhaps the most famous of all the best tribal tattoos are those of Otzi the Iceman. Otzi’s body is covered by 61 tattoos, all of them incredibly simplistic and only consisting of horizontal or vertical lines, Found on the border between Austria and Italy . although he lived over 5,000 years ago his society was a surprisingly advanced one. Each line was created by tracing charcoal into small incisions, but do not be surprised by their uncomplicated mark up . A new study published in the International Journal of Paleopathology explains how not only were the herbs and plants found with Otzi of notable medical uses, all of his tattoos line up with acupuncture points. These tiny clues into life during the beginning of the Bronze Age were most likely a remedy for illness or pain and they give us an interesting viewpoint into the uses of the first tribal tattoos: .

From various places around the globe, and dating back to various ages, Primitive examples of tribal tattoos have been found on many mummies . The second oldest tattoos found in Northern Chile belong to the mummy of the Chinchorro Man who lived between 2563 and 1972 BCE. In Egypt, Tattoos have been found on mummies , the oldest of these displaying a pattern of simple dots around the lower abdomen, but more recently a discovery was made of a preserved body that had more intricate designs including lotus flowers, animals, and the Wadjet Eye, also known as the Eye of Horus. The woman is said to have been mummified around 1300 and 1070 BCE, Thought to be a priestess. Into the ethnology behind tattooing in various communities, Her ink is also a great clue; many archaeologists believe that these pieces show a very ritualistic and sacred symbology behind them.

However, the artwork on the skin of the Princess of Ukok is perhaps the oldest mummy with tribal tattoos that are the closest to our modern day idea of tattoo designs. Her tattoos depict mythological creatures and are extremely ornate. Believed to have died around 500 BCE in what is now southwestern Siberia. The princess is a link to the evolution of tribal tattooing and modern tattooing. Her pieces are thought to signify not only social status, but also symbols, familial ties, and philosophies.


Of Polynesian tattoos, the same thing could be said . Practiced for thousands of years, these tribal design for tattoo are some of the main foundations of contemporary tattooing. Polynesian designs illustrate rites of passage, wartime accomplishments, clan affiliation, geographic location, personality and philosophy like the Princess of Ukok. These works of body art have survived over the years thanks to preservation and respect for culture with a great deal of iconography and symbology behind it . Many tattooists working within tribal tattooing are sure to be aware of appropriation and only practice this particular style if they are fully educated and trained within it, even now. To inspire artists and tattoo enthusiasts around the world, Large swaths of black, lines, dots, swirls, and abstract motifs and symbols have continued .

Styles of Tribal Tattoos

tribal tattoo for girl
tribal tattoo for girl

Different tribal tattoo styles have been found all over the globe, spanning thousands of years, and is, along with cave painting and pottery, the oldest surviving art form of humanity. For expression and meaning, It is clear that mankind has always felt a deep need ; tattoos continue to be a method of that. These days, techniques, materials, and information are shared quite freely and the tribal tattooing style is informed by many different folk arts and aesthetics, thankfully. Still consisting mainly of black dots,lines, and abstract shapes, artists continue to push the limits. There are many different modes that clients have to choose from, Forming new symbols and merging their personal style with those of ancient tribal tattooing .


Artists Who Do Tribal Tattoos

Perhaps Whang-od is the most famous tribal tattooist .  Kalinga tattoo of the Buscalan region in the Philippines, Born in 1917, at 101 years of age she is the last of the great mambabatok, a. Mambabatok tattoos are lines, dots, and abstract symbols. To create larger work, often in the form of bodysuits, Similar to her work is the tattooist Haivarasly who uses the same simple graphic elements, as well as large areas of black and shapes. Victor J Webster is a blackwork tattooist that does several different types of tribal tattoos work depending on the project, including Maori, Native American, Tibetan, and more. His work is a perfect embodiment of the human artistic expression, that is vast connectivity.Another artist that has smoothly connected primitive and modern forms of tattooing, creating his own signature Blackwork style is Hanumantra Lamara.

Since the interest in tribalist aesthetics has developed continually since the 1990’s, there are many famous tribal tattoo artists who either create their own take on folk art, or stay true to the original form. Including Haida tattoos which originated in Haida Gwaii, off the northern Pacific coast of Canada, Igor Kampman does many traditional Native American tattoos. Animals like ravens, orcas are often abstracted tribal tattoos and other icons most often seen on Haida totem poles. While Gerhard Wiesbeck works in a variety of tribal tattooing ranging from Celtic knots to sacred geometric forms, Dmitry Babakhin is also known for his respectful and devoted work in the Polynesian style .

tribal tattoos for girl
tribal tattoos for girl

Because tribal tattooing covers many cultures and histories, there are many different tribal tattoo styles that have emerged, and many different artists who continue this ancient tradition. It is important to know the history and background of the tribe that you’d like to emulate in tattoo form like most cultural artworks. Through appropriation of their sacred rituals and symbols for aesthetics alone, often it is easy to disrespect tribes . However, thankfully, to help you along the way, there are always highly skilled and knowledgeable artisans .

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