While tribal has always been a mainstay of the tattoo aesthetic, thanks to the Maori peoples, and thousands of others in different cultures around the globe. Tattooing has been around literally for millenia. Around 5,000 years BC historians and archeologists unearthed clay figurines that depicted tattoo marks. Otzi the Iceman is the first example of tattooed skin found, and he dates back to about 3,000 BC. What do these all have in common? They were pattern tattoos. Motifs made of dots, lines, and intersecting shapes to create the tattoo. Pattern tattoos are the first examples of tattoos ever, but the reasons for them vary.
Scientists think that the pattern tattoos on Otzi may have been a form of medicine, like acupuncture, or shamanism. They may have even been to ward off evil spirits…but whatever they may be they are far from the decorative purposes that we now commonly find in modern pattern tattoos. Whang-Od, the last mambabatok still practicing the traditional art of the Kalinga in the Philippines, creates designs that all consist of true tribal design motifs: lines, shapes and dots that were once meant to protect it’s wearer, or were earned by headhunters or protectors of villagers.
Perhaps Maori tattoos are the most well known of tribal pattern tattoos. Maori tattoos are called ‘ta moko’ and are highly intricate patterns that swirl around the body in graceful turns. The swirls and curves of the tattoo are meant to mirror the turns of life, and heart. These pattern tattoos have deep meaning, as do most true tribal tattoos. Some people get pattern tattoos as a decorative piece for their skin, and others are more interested in continuing the tradition of cultures who have protected and supported tattooing for generations to come. Whatever your reason may be, we hope you enjoy this collection!