Having ancestors of Filipino descent, their history behind tattooing I have to say really perked up my interest and left me fascinated. The Philippines were called by the Spanish as La isle De Los Pintados or the islands of the painted ones. The tradition of passing on the act of tribal tattooing that is quintessentially Filipino, has been lost over the years, where a particular tribe called the Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon, are trying desperately to bring it back to life. Tattoos were not marked on one's bodies as a decorative art piece, but more for sacred and traditional use where tribesmen and women would adorn their entire bodies with intricate, detailed artwork.
Back in the day, tattoos were done with needles placed on a thick piece of wood, which was then rapidly sunk into one's skin by tapping it continuously in a pattern. Now of course we have electric tattoo machines that make things a whole lot easier for tattoo artists who prefer doing it the modern way, while a lot of tattooists in the US and other parts of the globe, still practice the old ways of tattooing.
The Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon tribe are trying to put together the remnants of their history, and bring back their culture in its entirety. The negative and the positive aspects that came together to form the islands is what makes the Philippines what it is - they want to pass this on their culture and its traditions to future generations so that it isn't lost forever. The tattoos speak a lot about the Philippines past, which the tribe is now trying to work towards in getting back and restoring by researching in every way possible to understand their ancestral line. Once that knowledge is obtained, the tattoos are then created to tell the story. The designs interpreted in an attempt to bring back ancestral history, are sacred and not something that is taken lightly or translated into a fashion statement.
Copying the tattoo is said to be disrespectful of the Filipino's history and ancestors, where using these as inspirational to turn into your own is encouraged, instead of stealing the similar art piece. Some tattoos are not researched further into, where many people think their tattoos mean something they're sure of, but are completely different when looked upon by someone who knows Filipino art work well. The meanings of Filipino tribal tattoos vary, where the power they say of some designs, can bring upon unexpected bad events on a person. That is why it is important to always know what you're getting, before you take on a big decision to have it inked on you.
Filipino Tribal Tattoo Designs
Filipino tattoos are very decorative and complex in some of their designs, especially when it is tribal oriented. For those of you of who want to get the tribal designs made, the best thing to do would be to have extensive research done on which patterns speak specifically of the Filipino kind. Many people will claim to have designs that are of Filipino origin, but are in fact fakes or other random tribal art pieces. Like mentioned earlier it is important to know what each tribal design means, and what it interprets, where simple versions of the same are available without having to think too much into, about if it translates into something important or sacred.
You can combine designs with other adaptations that are tribal in nature, but of course using elements that speak of Filipino art as well. Combining religious symbols, text, imagery or other kinds of designs within an encapsulating Filipino tribal art tattoo would also seem quite apt. Bring together different elements of the things you choose for the art piece, where all of them come together as one within the main design, without having to solely concentrate on Filipino artwork.
Filipino-based tattoo work, or any other native cultures that holds within its tattoo work a sacred or respectable backing, has to be approached in a way that doesn't trample upon their individual beliefs. Be sure to go a trusted tattooist to get your tattoo done, or if your lucky enough to get one by the tribe themselves, then it would save you the trouble of getting the wrong tattoo interpretation done, or avoiding one that isn't meant to be tattooed on you.