Top 77 Aztec Tattoo Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]
The Aztecs operated under a system of structure, ritual, and superstition that included tattoo as a part of everyday life. Aztec tattoo was important to their amazing worship of the sun and displays of art and culture.
Aztec imagery developed a variety of intricate designs, patterns and motifs that focused on repetition and development of shape, pattern, and geometric structures, and this style has flowed through to contemporary tattoo culture.
Aztec design is almost always etched in richly detailed black and gray and looks to deliver the stone aspects of their ancient cities and totems, as well as celebrating warriors, women, and images of bravery strength, and spirit, such as Aztec Eagle Tattoo.
Read on for an insight into Aztec civilization and the 77 best tattoo designs, featuring a range of stunning tattoos in a range of placements and degrees of detail.
1. Aztec Animal Totem Feature Tattoos
This is awesome. Love the overall falcon image being broken into sections then displayed as a variety of different popular Aztec patterns. The design makes this a truly unique inside forearm tattoo well backed by skilful shading and line work.
Key animal symbols in Aztec culture included those closest to the people such as Jaguars, bears, monkeys, frogs and eagles. The animals acted as totems for Aztec peoples’ personalities and behavior. These motifs are frequently recurring for both tattoo culture and wider Central American Art.
The Aztec Eagle, Jaguar, and Bear for example, are symbols of fierce bravery and strength – hugely important characteristics to a warrior tradition – while monkeys and frogs were popular for their more joyous personalities.
2. Aztec Warrior Tattoo Ideas
This tattoo looks like a cross between a telenovela and the Road to El Dorado. The Aztec symbols in this piece are brilliant; handsome warrior chief, black specked jaguar, ancient temples, and jungle. The artist shows mastery in black and gray shading throughout the entirety of this piece, right down to the shading of the damsel’s foot. It’s an exceptional piece of Aztec/Latinx crossover body art.
Nice tattoo. This piece is puts a fearsome warrior chief at the top of a simply designed, complexly delivered piece of pattern in the Aztec style. The use of sharp black lettering to emphasize the chief’s own tattoos is excellent, while the contrasting shades and maze like quality of the pattern is also cool. When this piece settles down it will also fit well with the subject’s other Aztec tattoos.
This is a great realism tattoo featuring an Aztec warrior in traditional headdress. It contrasts well against the heavily patterned circular black/zero space image and stylized monkey stomach tattoo. These are all clearly different styles of body art linked cleverly by theme and quality execution.
Aztec culture venerated the deeds of their warriors, so many auspicious types of body art celebrate bravery and skill in battle. The proud, noble Aztec warrior is a recurring theme in contemporary Aztec tattoo design – they feature the tough, handsome eagle warrior in headdress willing to die for in battle for their people, or the older Aztec chief about to dispense wisdom.
3. Aztec Women Tattoo Design
This is a beautifully executed Aztec abstract tattoo of a woman. The artist has created an overlay of black pattern and gray shadow to partially obscure the woman’s beauty, then utitilized further fuzzy shading to incorporate this tattoo into other work surrounding it.
A beautiful Latinx woman with Aztec feathered headdress in front of a huge stone disc. This is a funky tattoo – really like how the headdress and disc combine to seem like one, while the artist has done an excellent job making you see double for the ladies’ eyes, as if there’s been a couple extra tequila’s consumed.
Aztec women were just as fierce, brave, and brilliant as their male counterparts. They’re depicted often in contemporary Latinx tattoo art as beautiful but strong women, with flowing hair and an air of mystique and/or danger.
4. Aztec Chest Tattoo Idea and Application
This great tattoo shows a beautiful Aztec aesthetic on both the feature chest piece and corresponding bicep half sleeve. The newest body art is exceptionally shaded – the artist has been able to deftly deliver clearly defined differences between the stone cut into statue and the rough stone left to join the subject’s other tattoos. This tattoo also benefits from strong use of negative space in the smoky tendrils threading through the statue which creates pale contrast to the gray.
Okay, so this is like one of those claymation Disney movies laid out in tattoo form. It’s big, bold, and brilliantly etched. The absolute mastery of this tattoo’s negative space is hard to explain, so take a good hard look at the arm sleeve and ask yourself: how often have you seen this type of work executed? It’s not very often. Also, props to the sun disc image on the chest and side balancing layers of circular pattern in stone struck gray shading.
There’s impressive detail crammed into these wonderful grayscale Aztec chest tattoo designs. The elements of broad block, stone style artwork in opposition to the more realistic styled humans and animals, whereas the importance of the sun disc is denoted by sharp, intricately detailed and precise stone effects.
5. The Ancient Aztec Sun Disc
This effective Aztec sun tattoo relies on heavy duty line work to convey imagery – it almost looks like its been gouged in with a thick needle then covered over with bits of white ink. It looks rough hewn and rustic, but given the way it’s consistent all the way through this seems to be by design rather than misadventure.
Welcome to the excellent tattooist’s guide to Mesoamerica. At the bottom you’ll see the glorious ruin of Chichen Itza dappled in sunlight, while on your right is the prototypical warrior in headdress. Isn’t he a handsome fellow? Don’t forget to stop in at the gift shop where you can be wowed by a technically brilliant depiction of the Aztec sun. Please avoid trying to catch the dove!
This is a hectic leg tattoo with great examples of favorite Aztec artworks. The shading in this piece is well supported by the use of white ink to create unusual highlights inside the sun disc. They’re a unique method of making various curls and points stand out. The use of traditional Aztec temple at the top of the artwork is clever placement, while the balancing shade work to each side of the main image creates nice cracked stone effects.
Much like Ancient Egyptian civilization, the Sun God was all important to worship for the Aztec Empire. It was literally the center of the Aztec calendar, and responsible for the provision of life.
The Aztec sun was also central to the tribe’s zealous use of sacrifice, particularly in times of strife or unrest. The opposite to the Aztec sun was Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec God of the Great Bear constellation and the night sky.
As these examples of Aztec sun tattoo ideas show, it still takes center stage even in contemporary descriptions of tribal tattoo.
6. Smaller Aztec Art
These smaller Aztec tattoo ideas show off a bit more range than some of their counterparts. Sure, the central themes are there – the sun, stone art, and warriors – but how they’re depicted tends to be a little different.
The solid black in the Aztec Eagle tattoo design, or the hectic placement on the neck of the reference to Quetzalcoatl –the Feathered Serpent deity, who also featured in Mayan tattoo culture – are good examples moving away from large scale black and gray illustration.
7. Skull Tattoo Designs
Aztec society – which thrived on the Warrior ethos as well as massive amounts of superstition and shamanism – there are going to be a lot of skulls. These tattoos very much fall into the latter category, as the headdress wearing skulls of Aztec chief, warrior, and mystical dead guys can attest.
8. Aztec Back Tattoos
A heady mix of traditional Aztec style tattooing merged with modern day Chicano script. The detail of the background elements are popular Aztec tropes such as temple, warrior, and intertwining patterned art. The central, focal point images are the zero space Chicano fonts, hollowed out and unblemished they thrust forward against the busy gray background.
These uniformly massive full back tattoos demonstrate the commitment to quality, intricate black and gray shading work. These examples are rich in both detail, and time spent in the tattoo artist’s chair. They’re a remarkable testament to tattoo commitment.
Some of these examples show how closely the traditional Aztec body art style meshes closely with the more modern Chicano style of tattooing that developed in the Southern US prison system.
9. Sleeve and Half Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
These sleeve and half sleeve depictions are fantastically rich in detail and personality. They’re very much the hallmark idea of traditional Aztec style tattoo. These pieces take the important elements – warriors, symbolism, stone effects or the sun – and tie them into elaborate half or full-length sleeve designs.
10. Aztec Tribe Stone Art
Temples, housing, totems worshipping every creature from the Aztec Eagle to the Feathered Serpent deity – were central to the Aztec tribe’s of life. Nearly all their grayscale shading tattoo has links to the stonework that underpinned the remarkable culture of the fierce Aztec people.
11. Traditional Aztec Tribal Design
A nicely etched shoulder and chest tattoo. The artist has cleverly used negative space to draw wide lines of black, shadow filled ink to combine and offset the more sharply detailed, intensively gray shadowed skull warrior and traditional Aztec sun.
Modern Aztec style tattoo design utilizes techniques and application styles that are very similar to that of Polynesian body art. The is a strong commitment to pattern, repetition, and the use of negative space in design creation.
12. Unfinished Pieces
I’ve kept this range of unfinished pieces inside the gallery, as they do a wonderful job displaying just how much time, effort, and design skill go into the execution of a bad ass Aztec tattoo idea. These are in various stages of completion – they’ve already taken a huge amount of time and effort, with a hell of a lot more time in the chair left to come.
Aztec Tattoo FAQs
Did the Aztecs have tattoos?
The Aztecs operated under a system of structure, ritual, and superstition that included tattoo as a part of everyday life.
Aztec tattoo was an important part of their amazing displays of art and culture, developing a variety of intricate designs, patterns and motifs that focused on repetition and development of shape, pattern, and geometric structures.
The expressive Aztec art style was based upon their passion to avoid death and conquer disaster, which is part of the reason why the Aztecs took sacrifices to an unprecedented level.
A lot of fundamental Aztec designs are still incorporated into modern day Latinx tattooing across the southern USA, Mexico, and Central Latin America.
What do Aztec symbols mean?
Different Aztec tattoos were ascribed meanings reflecting key elements of everyday life. For example, the sun is a recurring, hugely important sacred part of Aztec tattoo that symbolized the giving of life and was central to everything, such as religion, crops, and the Aztec Calendar.
Other key Aztec symbols included animals close to the Aztecs such as Jaguars, bears, monkeys, frogs and eagles. The animals acted as totems for Aztec peoples’ personalities and behavior.
Aztec symbolism also venerated the deeds of great warriors, so many auspicious types of body art celebrated bravery and skill in battle.
The Aztecs also carried a visual language akin to Egyptian hieroglyphs that were incorporated into their tattoo practice.
Did you enjoy this glimpse of Aztec society and the continuing influence of Aztec design in Latinx tattoo? Click on the links below for more cool tattoo art galleries: