The single most requested tattoo design. The most popular tribal designs are Maori, Haida and Polynesian designs. There is also great interest in Native American tattoo designs. The term "tribal" of course covers an astonishing array of tattoo design possibilities, from the traditional tribal tattoos of indigenous and aboriginal cultures, to the latest in graphic design for the body.
The star is a tattoo symbol popular with both men and women, and the Nautical Star tattoo design has gone through a strong revival. Stars are often encountered as symbols, and many cases the meaning of a particular star symbol may depend upon the number points it has, and sometimes the orientation of these points as well.
Angel tattoo designs have become increasingly popular; an angel is a symbol of devotion, spirituality and faith and signifies a relationship with God. An angel can be intended as a figure of guidance and protection. An angel is often used as the centerpiece of a tattoo that is intended as a memorial.
As a tattoo design or symbol, there is perhaps no religious icon or symbol more universally recognized today than the Christian Cross. Religious symbolism is prominently featured in several tattoo design genres, both ancient and modern, and in fact it could be argued that all traditional tattooing among indigenous peoples has a strong spiritual element. See also Celtic Cross, Maltese Cross and Iron Cross
As tattoos, the wing design is often infused with inspirational or spiritual significance -- the angel motif for instance, a symbol of guidance and protection. For those who dream of soaring the skies like a bird, the wing symbol takes on the feathery aspect of a bird. As a tattoo design it can reflect the power of the eagle or the lightness of the butterfly. Popular with both men and women.
Maori Tattoo Symbols
The distinctive school of Maori designs is the clear tribal favorite of enthusiasts interested in tribal tattoo designs. Maori tattooing is distinguished by the use of bold lines and the repetition of specific design motifs that are prominent both in the tattooing or "moko" of the Maori people of New Zealand and within other cultural artworks suck as carving and weaving. Original Maori tattoos - Ta Moko - were specific to an individual and contained extensive personal and family history in the designs.
A true classic tattoo design that shows the influence of Japanese and Chinese culture in western tattooing. The dragon is a culturally far-ranging character whose apparent bad temper should be interpreted as simply amoral, neither good nor evil. Popular with both men and women. See also Fire Dragons, Water Dragons & Japanese Tattoo
The phoenix is another tattoo design that illustrates the enduring popularity of Japanese tattooing traditions. But the phoenix is also a design with a rich mythological history in both Eastern and western cultures. Tales of the phoenix appear in ancient Arabian, Greek, Roman, and Far Eastern mythology. In both Greek and Egyptian tales, the phoenix represented the sun, dying in flames at the end of the day and rising each morning. See also, Japanese Tattoo Designs
Butterfly Tattoo Designs
A generally feminine tattoo design choice and a perennial favorite. It's ranking shows the growing influence that women have in tattoo culture. Even so, the Butterfly is not entirely the exclusive domain of the feminine. The Roman Emperor, Augustus, took it as his personal symbol, and the warrior priests of the Mexican Popolucas peoples sported the Butterfly as a motif on their breastplates. Their Butterfly was also the symbol of fire. Delightful, magical and transformational, the Butterfly reminds its admirers of the mystery of nature and the richness of human imagination.
Fairy Tattoo Designs
A tattoo design with a long history in story, myth and folklore. Fairies in literature are often the personification of human wishes and desire in the form of little people with magical powers. As a tattoo design they can be symbols of youthful innocence and a desire to retain a child-like imagination, wonder and awe. Most popular with women and a fairy is a design with a strong magical element.
The swallow & bluebird are another tattoo design that shows the enduring popularity of nautical tattoo art. In ancient times, the swallow was associated with the 'imperishable' stars and the souls of the dead. According to Greek legend, secret texts told how to transform into a swallow, something the ancient deities liked to do. The swallow is a tattoo design that is popular with both men and women.
The influence of the power of the Lion's symbolism can be seen in it's representation in both Chinese and Japanese art and mythology, as well as, both Eastern and Western cultures. The Lion was often used as a symbol of Royalty, as in many cultures it was considered the "King of the Beasts". In early Christianity, as Jesus was seen to be the "King of Kings", he was often represented by a Lion, and a Lion was the symbol of St. Mark. The Lion or Leo, is one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac and represents the Sun.
Sun Designs & Symbols
The Sun as a tattoo design is a reflection of the Sun's profound symbolic nature in most cultures around the world. As a tattoo design and symbol, a Sun represents fertility, vitality, passion, courage and eternally renewed youth, light and knowledge. The Sun was a symbol of both royal and divine powers, adopted by both secular and religious authorities. The sun as a tattoo is very popular with both men and women.
Celtic Tattoo Symbols
Celtic tattoo designs are primarily a genre of complex interwoven lines representing knots, mazes, spirals and other figures. The intricate interweaving showing no beginning and no end, reflective of the cycles of the seasons and of life. Celtic knot designs while at first and foremost decorative on the surface, are at their roots very culturally significant and deeply symbolic and are a distinctive way for people to express their Celtic heritage.
Kanji Tattoo Symbols
Kanji tattoos account for nearly 20% of all Internet tattoo design searches. The idea of expressing a soulful feeling with such an exotic symbol is highly attractive. And the pitfalls are legend. For starters, kanji is not a traditional Japanese tattoo. It’s virtually unknown in Japan. But it’s a tattoo style that has become popular among Westerners who believe that kanji identifies them with an Eastern philosophy based on geishas and cherry blossoms.
Haida Tattoo Symbols
The Haida are renowned around the world for the beauty and complexity of their art and images. The bold lines of the Haida designs make them uniquely suited to be reproduced as tattoos. The Haida originally used tattoos to depict family Clan Crests. Haida crests chronicled important mythological events in the family or clan's history - usually when an ancestor encountered a spiritual being in a supernatural context. The Haida were once one of the most heavily tattooed indigenous people in the world, and were one of very few groups in recorded history to tattoo in colour, using red as well as black.