Tattoos make bold statements. They become an integral part of your personality for the rest of your life. Depending on what kind of tattoo you’re looking for, you can opt for either a colored tattoo or a monochromatic one. Right from tribal tattoos to cultural symbols, there are many designs to choose from.
Every tattoo has a story behind it; the purpose of choosing that particular design, the size, the shape, and the meaning. Getting a tattoo inked on your sleeve is a major decision. Those who are fascinated with this type of body art have a unique way of expressing their innermost beliefs and feelings with the world.
Aztec tattoos were made to represent gods and goddesses and nature, including plants, birds, and animals. Aztec designs contain fascinating depictions of jaguars, snakes, and eagles. Some of the common Aztec tattoos are drawings of the Sun god with daggers and other mysterious symbols surrounding it. Another favorite is the feathered serpent-god Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan, and is associated with higher learning and fertility.
Aztec tattoos are truly impressive and have a historical significance as they belong to the ancient culture of the Aztecs. The designs are hundreds of years old and consist of many symbols from the ancient Aztec civilization, including references to the sun, the moon, and the stars. Apart from these designs, the Aztec masks are also quite popular. It is said that in the early 16th century, the Aztecs were overruled by Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conqueror. These masks were a few handful remains that were left of the Aztec civilization. The features of the masks are very human-life, yet the intricate work that goes behind designing these tattoos make these masks a wonderful choice.
The natives of Polynesian islands consider tattoos a part of their culture, and hence, Polynesian tattoos have deep spiritual and cultural meanings behind them. The various designs are:
Māori: These tattoos consist of spiral, curvilinear motifs with loops.
Hawaiian: These designs are based on nature and include flowers, turtles, dolphins, waves, etc. They represent the people’s love for their island.
Tiki: These are inspired from the Tiki gods and goddesses that constitute a major part of the Polynesian culture. They are said to bring good fortune.
Samoan: These are detailed designs known for their intricacies and should be done by an experienced artist (requires a steady hand). Traditionally called pe’a, these tattoos are done by piercing the skin with a shark’s or a pig’s razor-sharp tooth.
Tattooing was done in the tribes by their ancestors and these designs have been passed on from generation to generation. Also, the tattoos that a person gets done stand for their rank and status in the tribe. In the Polynesian tribes, the kids are supposed to get their first tattoo as soon as they reach puberty; a rite of passage, if you will. The process is very different from the machine tattoos done nowadays. The tattoo is made with a stone and a sharp piece of bone or bamboo. Getting tattoos made therefore also implies how courageous a man is to withstand such a painful procedure. There are many tribes in these islands each with their unique designs.
Not many people are aware of it, but the Japanese were the first ones to introduce tattoos to the world. The general mass, especially in the West, is more aware of the various calligraphy styles and symbols. Other popular symbols and designs are dragons, koi fish, hannya masks, symbols from Buddhism, and Zen meditation.
With elaborate, full body tattoos, the art of body modification began by inserting ink underneath a person’s skin. This technique is called irezumi and it was done so as to keep the tattoos permanent.
Even though a cross tattoo signifies religion and faith, there are hundreds of designs and styles in which a cross can be presented. A cross, obviously, comes from Christianity as Jesus Christ was crucified by being nailed onto one. As for the designs, apart from the ones we’ve mentioned above, you may also choose from a tribal cross, a cross with thorns and roses, a ribbon across the cross (with name or date), a cross with beads (rosary), Jesus Christ on the cross, etc.
There are tons of choices and you will have to research extensively before you find the design that’s right for you.
As you know, the animal kingdom provides you with abundant choices when it comes to animal tattoos. With land to aerial to aquatic animals, you can select any animal you want. Whether you choose from the different zodiac signs (Chinese or Western), a type of fish, or your pet, animal tattoos are quite popular among men. Each animal has unique characteristics. And one of the reasons why men choose such tattoos is because they wish to emanate those qualities.
The Haida are a tribe of Native Americans originally from the Pacific Northwest Coast. They have unique designs based on nature, animals (wolf and bear), birds (owl, thunderbird, hawk, and eagle), and sea animals (killer whale, halibut, and shark). Other designs include totem poles and other Native American religious symbols. These are simple designs that use a few basic colors and look like they are from a different world and time.
All the above ideas can be used individually or in confluence with one another to create interesting, thought-provoking designs. You can always come up with your own design from things that inspire and move you. There is no fixed rule on getting a specific design. You can get any design as long as it suits you best. Make sure that you research well on not just the design, but also its placement and size. There’s no turning back once the tattoo is inked on your sleeve.