To display a connection with aboriginal values, thoughtful men are turning to Native American tattoos in droves.
Every Native American tribe carries a rich history that is loaded with iconography. Each group possesses a unique language that can be captured in ink, and there are literally endless ways to connect with the culture via tattoos.
Ritualistic scarification was also heavily practiced, so getting a Native American tattoo is actually similar to undergoing an ancient rite of passage. A lot of these designs consisted of ancient warrior patterns. In contrast, today’s tattoos are mainly re-creations of their tools and jewelry. Headdresses are very prevalent choices, and they espouse a distinguished chieftain status.
Landscapes also make great Native American tattoos. This is because their societies reached a peak before industrialization, so subsisting off of the Earth is an essential tenet of their philosophy. Mountains and plains are both admirable choices in this sense.
Many men get Indian tattoos after discovering aboriginal blood in their family tree. These inked artworks can provide a link to a long-lost personal history. To discover new ways of getting in touch with your old-fashioned origins, just check out these tasteful Native American tattoos!
1. Portrait Native American Tattoos
Inking a portrait on your skin is a powerful way to honor loved ones, and Native American portraits are no exception. Whether you choose a brave or a maiden, your ink is sure draw the eye. Portraits are typically photo-realist in style. While this offers the most eye-poppingly realistic portraits, it’s also a highly developed and intricate skill. Shop around and look at plenty of portfolios until you find an artist whose style matches how you want your portrait to look.
Portraits don’t have to be done in photo-realist style, although it’s a popular choice. 3D Native American tattoos are especially striking, appearing to peer out at the world from your skin.
For a more modern twist, check out trash polka or neo-traditional styles. Both offer modern takes on an ancient subject, which will make your tattoo feel fresh. As always, choose an artist who’s skilled in the technique you choose.
2. Native American Chief Tattoos
A Native American tribal chief is one of the most universally recognized Native tattoos, and with good reason. These men were revered by their tribes, having typically proven their wisdom and bravery through a lifetime of real-world trials. You might already admire a particular chief, or you may like the image. If you don’t have a particular chief in mind, take the time to research chiefs throughout history.
Sitting Bull, of the Hunkpapa Lakota tribe, is famous for leading his people through years of resisting unfair US Government action. Killed by the very people he fought against, he’s a powerful symbol of resistance, perseverance and standing up for what’s right. Red Cloud, of the Oglala Lakota, offers a similar backstory and prominence.
Geronimo is a unique figure. While never an official chief, he often led many Apache warriors. He was a medicine man revered for his knowledge of healing as well as battle, and a great way to symbolize that title doesn’t always go along with greatness.
Be sure to carefully research the band and tribe you descend from. Chances are good that you’ll find a chief or leader more than worthy of pride of place in your Native American tattoo design.
3. Native American Tattoos Featuring Animals
As they were to nearly all indigenous peoples, animals played a huge role in the lives of Native Americans. Whether it was bison for the Plains tribes or coyotes for those of the Southwest, Native Americans both respected and used animals as guides, advisors, food and clothing. They were integral to the Native experience, and their importance can’t be overstated.
The meanings of different animals to Native tribes is fascinating. You can discover a lot about yourself through this, even finding your spirit animal. Regardless of the animal you choose, be sure to do so with respect. Native American tattoos with feathers are animal-related and can be extremely meaningful. These tattoos look stunning whether photo-realistic or boldly colored and represent a diverse world of meaning.
3. Native American Tattoos with Color
Nothing brings an image to life quite like color, which makes it a great choice for your upcoming Native American tattoo. Today’s dizzying array of tattoo techniques gives you unlimited choices, from the seemingly random splashes of Trash Polka to wispy Watercolor or clearly defined Neo-Traditional.
If you want to add color in an uber-traditional way, check out the ways in which Native Americans used color in their everyday lives. There are many beautiful examples online of Native beadwork, blanket weaving, painting and other mediums in which the Native Americans used color to brighten their lives. The war paint used when going into battle was often quite bright, and represented two main aspects of battle. Warriors used colors and patterns which aimed to strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. They also used war paint and its application as a way to mentally prepare for combat. Either of these aspects could become a personalized use of color in your Native American tattoo design
4. Blackwork Native American Tattoos
Blackwork covers a lot of ground, from photo-realist portraits to linework, dotwork, geometric designs and so much more. A Native American blackwork tattoo, when rendered properly and with skill, can make your heritage appear ready to leap off your skin.
Expert blackwork with precision shading is also an exceptional way to expand your tattoo to include the landscapes that were so important to these Native Tribes. Don’t be afraid to use modern tattooing styles alongside more traditional ones. After all, a Native American tattoo is all about bringing the past into the present.
5. Tribal Native American Tattoos
The most historically faithful of all, traditional Native American tattoos featuring tribal designs are a bold way to honor your heritage. These designs feature vivid colors and primitively designed animals and patterns. Different tribes around the country each had their own style of artwork. You can choose a design based on your heritage, the area where you grew up or any style that speaks to you.
Keep in mind that a history-based Native American tattoo design is very different from the “tribal” designs you may have chosen at 3AM after a few too many beers. The hugely popular tribal designs of the 90’s were generic and, in most cases, not based on any historical tribe. Be sure to use an authentic design to properly pay homage. In addition, be aware that while these designs are simple, they’re far from simplistic. They require precision linework and a bold use of saturated color in order to properly mimic the artwork from which they were inspired.
Native American Tattoo FAQs
What Does a Native American Tattoo Mean?
What a Native American tattoo means depends entirely on the person. You may admire the bravery of the Native Americans, whether you have Native blood or not. However, the majority of Native tattoos are inked on those who have Native blood. This might be something you’ve known your whole life or recently found out through a DNA test.
For the most part, Native American tattoos pay homage to ancestry. If you’ve recently found out that you’re part Native American, dig deeper. If you can find a tribe, you’ll have even more history behind your tattoo. Perhaps that tribe had a famous chief – this could turn into a beautiful portrait with significant meaning. In short, Native American tattoos symbolize what most tattoos do – that you admire, respect and want to honor the tattoo’s subject.
What Does a Feather Symbolize to Native Americans?
In Native American culture, a feather is far more than something that helps birds fly. It symbolizes many things, among them trust, honor, strength, freedom, wisdom and power. A feather from an eagle – traditionally Bald or Golden varieties – is extremely special. Since the Native Americans believe that these birds have a connection to the heavens, these feathers symbolize spirituality.
Feathers are to be respected. Much like a flag, a feather received as a gift is to be treated carefully, proudly displayed and never allowed to touch the ground. Due to all these varied meanings, feathers in Native American tattoos can symbolize a host of different things depending on the type of feather, color, placement and design.