The art of decorating the human body with tattoos is not a modern trend! The history of tattoos dates back to the early civilized humans who used tattoos as a part of sacred, ritualistic practices. Of the many styles of Tattoos, tribal tattoos have wide recognition, probably for their rich history. Records suggest that the earliest tribal tattoo belongs to the Mummy of Otzi, who lived around 5000 years ago, which features horizontal and vertical lines. Even in the 21st century, the tribal tattoo trend is growing strong for conveying powerful emotions and philosophies.
In this article, we shall explore more about the tribal tattoo traditional along with learning about the best tribal tattoo placements on the body with pictures.

What is a Tribal Tattoo?

A tribal tattoo originally means a form of body art that represents the culture and living of different tribal groups like Polynesians, Maoris, Chinese etc. In the present times, tribal tattoos represent designs that look like tribal art comprising of geometric patterns, dots, lines, symbols of people and animals. Tribal tattoos heavily feature thin and thick straight lines or circular designs.

What are the Types of Tribal Tattoos?


Tribal tattoos represent the living conditions and traditions of a particular tribal group. Back in time, these tattoos were used to depict the social status, rites of passage, victories, warfare or family identification. Depending on the customs of the tribal group, different styles have come into use that heavily inspire modern-day tribal tattoo designs.

Here are some popular styles of tribal tattoos that you will come across:

Animal Abstract Style: This style comes from the Samoan tribal groups which feature animals designs like wild animals and sea as a sign of protection.
Face Tattoos: This tribal tattoo comes from the Māori culture where tattoos are drawn on the face and head to represent social status and rank.
Celtic Cross and Knots: These designs come from the Celtic tribes of Scotland, and are linked to Christianity.
Floral Motifs: These tattoos come from the Iban tribes who use natural inspired motifs like flowers as a means to attract more spiritual energy.
Modern Tribal Designs: They are contemporary designs that feature a lot of elements like animals, insects, geometric patterns etc.

80+ Tribal Tattoo Designs and Body Placements for Men and Women:

The best part about choosing tribal tattoos is that these designs go well on almost all body parts. The geometric lines and curves align smoothly with the contours of your body and flow along well. Also, the size of tribal tattoos depends on where you plan to get it done, for example – large designs on areas like thighs and small ones on the neck or wrist. In this section, we have put together the different placement areas for tribal tattoos for men and women, along with 96 Best designs in each category.

1. Tribal Tattoos on Upper Arms, Full Hands, Sleeves and Biceps:


Tribal tattoos come with a variety of elements like warriors, animals etc. that convey deep and powerful meanings. The best way to flaunt them is to choose areas like the upper arm, full hands, sleeves, or biceps. These areas are usually the most visible parts of your body and perfect for getting tattooed. That's not all! Legend has it that tribals wore these bold tattoos on their upper arms and sleeves to scare their enemies and display superiority. Some of the best designs include geometric patterns, tribal skulls, tribal wings or feathers etc.

Here are 12 Tribal Tattoo Designs for Men and Women on Upper Arms, Full Hands, Sleeves and Biceps:










2. Tribal Tattoos on lower arms, Wrist, Forearms and Fingers:

The other best area for placing tribal tattoos is the lower part of your hand, including lower arms, wrist, forearms, and fingers. These areas offer better visibility to the designs and enable you to convey your philosophies better. The most popular designs in this category are tribal lion tattoos, tribal arm bands tribal African tattoos and tribal Polynesian tattoos that feature a variety of motifs. Tattoos for lower arms, wrist, forearms or fingers are usually small size, keeping in mind the narrow available space.












3. Tribal Tattoos for Shoulder:

Tribal tattoos on shoulder convey meanings of strength, masculine power and dominance. The designs come in a variety of sizes to cover the shoulder areas. You can either target just the shoulder or the entire joint area for more visibility. Shoulder designs are usually quite elaborate with different tribal motifs. However, the modern ones come in patterns like zodiac tribal tattoos, circular tribal tattoos or eagle's circle tribal tattoos etc. Shoulder tribal tattoos are visually quite stunning and convey many stories about tribal culture.











4. Tribal Tattoos on Chest:

Tribal tattoos on the chest indicate strength and vitality. Traditional chest tribal tattoos are quite broad and elaborate, intended to cover a wide area of skin. You can, however, customize it as per your taste and personality. Chest tribal tattoos comprise various designs like warrior tribal tattoos, Aztec tribal tattoos, Hawaiian tribal tattoos etc. Now, coming to women, the placement is a little different as the chest area is sensitive for them. So, these designs usually go along the neckline or the cleavage area with different motifs.











5. Tribal Tattoos on Upper Back, Neck:

Upper back and neck are two popular body placements for tribal tattoos. People who wear deep-neck clothing or oversized vests usually prefer such areas for getting tattoos. The symbolism of tattoos also changes where you are getting them, for instance, tribal tattoos on the upper back symbolize past life mistakes and actions. Neck tribal tattoos often depict the wearer's passion and identity. Depending on the area, you can choose from elaborate to minimal designs for covering up your skin.











6. Tribal Tattoos for Lower Back:

Lower back tattoos are more popular with women than men. The reason could be that women wear crop tops and short jackets which offer visibility to these areas. Men, on the other hand, prefer this placement area if they have a toned body and are ready to take off their shirts. Lower back tribal tattoos usually comprise of smaller motifs that go parallel to the waistline. Due to the presence of the spinal bones in this area, the pain severity can also be high. Some of the best lower back designs are tribal abstract tattoos, tribal butterfly tattoos, Japanese Tribal Tattoos, Circle tribal tattoos etc.









7. Tribal Tattoos for Thighs:

Many people prefer getting tribal tattoos done on their thighs to draw attention to their lower body. Thigh muscles are relatively high in pain tolerance, which is another reason why this area is preferred. Now coming to symbolism, thigh tribal tattoos indicate the physical strength and stamina of a person. Although these tattoos are usually associated with masculinity, many women also choose them to look seductive. Typically, thigh tribal tattoos comprise of abstract tribal motifs or Māori tribal designs.









8. Tribal Tattoos for Legs and Ankles:

Tribal tattoos go well on legs and ankles also. The lower part of legs is quite visible to people, especially the ankle part. So, many people prefer these areas to get tatted with bold tribal tattoo designs. Depending on the area of selection, tribal leg tattoos come in intricate to minimal designs. Most leg tattoos are indicative of warrior lives and the sacrifices they made. Tribal masks, faces and other motifs work well on legs, while simple tribal symbol tattoos go well on ankles.












9. Matching Tribal Tattoos for Couples and Meanings:

Couples who get tatted together stay together! If you and your partner believe in the power of matching tattoos for keeping your relationships alive, this section is for you. Matching couple tattoos that feature tribal designs symbolize unity and affection. Getting inked together also strengthens your bond and reminds you of each other even in long-distance relationships. Do that note that couple tribal tattoos convey different meanings in different tribal communities. So, before sure to check the importance of the symbols before you get inked.

Here are some best designs for you:





Those are some of the best tribal tattoo designs for men and women. Trible tattoos are not mere designs and have a lot of symbolic meaning associated with them. Before finalising a design, do check with the artist to help you translate the meanings of the motifs. This way, you can get a design that aligns with your thought process and doesn't end up offending anyone. So, which of these tattoos are you willing to try?

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