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African Tattoos Design: History of African Tribal Tattoos

Check out the beauty of tribal African tattoo designs! This in-depth look at African body art will help you understand its deep meanings, intricate patterns, and cultural importance.

Tattoos from tribal Africa have complicated shapes and meanings that come from the culture’s history. Tribal African tattoo designs are important because they show who you are, your position, and your spiritual beliefs.

They have been passed down from generation to generation and combine traditional ways of doing things with modern ideas. This shows how diverse and long the history of African tribes is.

For a very long time, tribal tattoos have captivated people. In today’s modern world, African tribal tattoos are still widely celebrated. You will see them in Western culture very often. Besides its beauty, each design carries a meaning.

If you are new to African tribal tattoo designs and want to learn about their history, read further.

Origin of the African Tattoo Design

African tattoo designs have been around for a very long time and have deep roots in the culture of that area.

African Tattoo Design

In many African communities, these tattoos have deep meanings. They show who you are, your standing, and your spiritual views through intricate tribal patterns and symbolic motifs.

African tattooing customs have changed over the years as they have been passed down from generation to generation.

They now combine traditional methods with modern ones, but they still have a strong connection to the continent’s many cultures and histories.

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African tattoos come from African culture. The first African tattoo was found in 1994 BC on a mummy, and some tattoo designs also date back to 2000 BC.

These tattoos are used to protect the wearer from harm throughout his life.

It was considered a protected mark, accompanied by power. In modern society, most tribal tattoo designs are worn for decoration or simply because a person is fascinated with tattoos.

But traditionally, people used to wear them because tattoos protected them from evil spirits. They also considered that tattoos make them more than just humans, and they make them supernatural.

African Tattooing Rituals and Beliefs

In Africa, people used to choose Polynesian tattoo designs according to their character. Today, you would probably pick a tattoo because it is appealing, but tattoos symbolised bravery, courage, and other virtues that one wanted to possess back in the day.

That’s why they were ready to go through the excruciating process of getting tattoos on different parts of their bodies.

Due to their dark skin, Africans could not choose black dye to get a tattoo. They would follow a process called cicatrization to get their skin tattooed. As per this process, small openings were created on the skin to form wounded designs.

Ash was then rubbed on the wounds to make them heal fast, and the scar would become permanent.

The pain associated with the process was also used to evaluate the person’s strength, and it would reveal whether a person is strong or fragile.

Females who couldn’t bear the pain were bound to remain single for their lifetime since it was believed that they would be able to go through the pain of childbirth.

Males who couldn’t take the pain were considered cowards and were not allowed to go hunting with the rest of the male crowd.

Fortunately, today, anyone can get a tribal tattoo design on their skin, regardless of color, since multiple coloured inks are now available. The process has become faster and less painful due to the use of machines.

Africans considered that the person with the most tattoos ranked higher. That’s why the chiefs used to get the more intricate designs. It was a part of the culture for women to get tattoos on their chins and lips.

Africans also referred to tribal tattoos as their gods since tattoos were considered a way to protect themselves and heal. They used to pray to ensure their tattoos looked attractive.


Tribal African tattoo designs are full of custom, cultural history, and symbolic meaning. From complicated designs to motifs with meanings, these tattoos show how deeply African communities connect to their identity, faith, and ancestry. They honor and preserve a long history of art and storytelling.

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