As we now live in a world where our homes, purses and pockets all contain some type of computer technology, digitized screens stare back at us at every turn, and motorized vehicles zip by us at every turn, it is no wonder that we often feel the need to find ways around our modern conveniences and appreciate things that remind us of a simpler way of life. Human beings still existing in a tribal setting today remind us of the humble beginnings of all human life on planet Earth, and it is because of this fact that we are drawn to the somewhat bizarre, sometimes complex line work seen in tribal tattoo designs.
The popularity of tribal style tattoos throughout the history of a variety of cultures can almost serve as proof that the art of inking our skin is rooted in our genes. When considering the fact that even though the cultures were separated by thousands of miles and even large bodies of water, a history of tattooing can be traced within each of them. Celtic, Japanese, Chinese, African, Polynesian, and many other cultures all have their own rich history in tattoo art, along with their own unique aesthetic differences.
Today, many people choose to look into the past for inspiration when they choose a tattoo. Opting to choose a tribal styled tattoo may be a result of inspiration arising from a variety of different reasons, some of which may include:
- Ethnic Representation – Particularly in the western world, many people have ancestors who had originally came from a different country, and, settling here, much of the culture is often lost on successive generations – typically to the disappointment of the older family members. However, as the younger generation begins to age, they sometimes become curious in ‘reconnecting with [his or her] roots’. What better way to begin a quest to connect with the history and culture in your blood than committing to an artistic tribute inspired by artwork which originating from your ethnic origins?
Some of the cultures that have a tribal style that is commonly adopted into tattoo art might be:
- Tribal African (particularly Sub-Saharan)
- ‘Oceanic’ – Australian, Melanesian, New Zealander, Polynesian
- American Indian
…and there are many others, some being lesser known.
- Spirituality – Traditionally, many cultures and/or tribes use body modification as a means to induct members of the community into adulthood, a specific role in the tribe, or as celebration for some type of achievement. These roles are typically grounded in spiritual belief and accompanied by a celebration of some sort – however that depth in meaning is usually not enjoyed in this part of the world.
- Style – Many of the tribal tattoos are only ‘tribal’ in that the line work is reminiscent of tribal art, and there is no real deeper meaning that connects the art to any particular culture. Often this brand of tribal tattoo is created to bring attention to a particular part of the body – for example, many men who have a formidable bicep will adorn it with a tribal tattoo, giving them a way to draw the eyes of others to all those hours they’ve put in at the gym.
Tribal tattoos are typically made in black ink, devoid of any type of ‘cartoonishness’ that can be found in many other popular tattoo styles, although some decide to weave a bit of color within their tattoo, or wrap the tribal piece of the design around another image. Tribal designs offer a variety of looks and styles for nearly anyone.