Tribal drawings can be dated back as far as 2000BC in Egypt in the hieroglyphs of the high Priestess. They are found all over the world and in almost every culture. While you may have a specific idea of what a tribal drawing is almost all tattoos can be considered tribal.
Some of the most popular designs are from the Maori, Haida and Polynesian cultures. Many consider the Polynesians to be the originators of the ritual know today and all others are just derivatives and variations of them. The most common drawings include the long thick symmetrical designs that resemble flames and pointed spears that most assimilate with tribal tattoos.
Maori: Have very distinctive bold lines and include repetition of specific design motifs that are prominent in tattooing also known as "moko". Ta Moko means permanent body and face marking of the Maori. It traditionally meant carving of the skin! So if you are afraid of needles just imagine it being carved in!
Haida:Very distinct by their red and black color. They serve as a sort of family crest or incorporate important events of the family or clan. Often depict mythical events.
Tip: They were most often used to depict the social status and spiritual beliefs of people in tribes or hunting groups. Today the social meaning of tribal drawings and tattoos has sort of lost its significance and is chosen more now for its aesthetics and beauty.
There are few designs that appear more often than others. Like all tattoos you want to consider the meaning behind the images you are depicting. Below are a few of the most popular designs and their meanings used in tribal drawings today.
Also just ask around or visit your local tattoo shop for some inspired designs. A good tattoo artist will be able to help you find the design that is just right for you. Having some examples of what you are looking for to show them does help out too.
Finally settling on a tribal design that you like for its meaning or aesthetics can be tough. It is permanent after all. Whether you are paying homage to a specific culture or you just like the design it is important to keep the meaning in mind. If you plan on visiting any aborigines tribes soon you may be able to get a more inspired tribal tattoo and help bring back the meaning to them! As always KEEP IT SIMPLE!