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Rihanna’s Tattoos and What They Mean – [2020 Celebrity Ink Guide]

Dive into superstar Rihanna’s tattoos by exploring some of her most iconic pieces of body art and her reasons for getting them inked. 

Trends come and go in the world of pop music, but sometimes there is a performer that comes along with the talent and bravado to make the world sit up and take notice. Rihanna is one of these people. 

Born and raised in the Barbados, Rihanna burst onto the scene with her distinctive voice and style, signing to Def Jam records in 2005. However, it wasn’t until her album Good Girl Gone Bad and the release of the smash hit Umbrella that Rihanna hit the big time. 

Since then she has continued to carve a permanent spot for herself in the world of pop music and was recently listed as America’s richest female performer in Forbes, with a net worth of $600 million. 

Rihanna’s flair and taste set her apart in the fickle music industry, and her unique tattoos are part of her firebrand style. With over 20 different pieces of ink, Rihanna’s love of body art is on full display. She’s never far away from a new tattoo. 

The following article will detail some of her most impressive pieces and explore the meaning behind the singer’s beautiful tattoos. 

Trailing Stars Tattoo 

One of her first and most visible pieces, Rihanna has black and gray stars running up the back of her neck from her right shoulder. Applied in 2008 in Los Angeles and New York, the stars are her part of matching tattoos that she and ex-boyfriend Chris Brown share. 

Rihanna Trailing Stars Tattoo Back Of Neck

Isis Tattoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Located on the center of her torso, directly above her solar plexus and running across the front of her rib cage, Rihanna has a black and gray tattoo of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Isis was the greatest Egyptian goddess and possessed powers for healing, protection, and magic. Rihanna’s tattoo is applied in clean lines, gray wash shading and is dedicated to her late grandmother as stated though a tweet she released debuting her new ink. 

Rihanna Isis Tattoo Ribs

Egyptian Falcon Ink

Rihanna got this piece in June 2012. It is placed on her right foot and covers the existing musical note tattoo – believed to be Rihanna’s first tattoo -marking a new chapter in her story. Sticking with her Egyptian theme, the falcon is in the style of the faience falcon on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and is a symbol of strength and perseverance.

Inked by Bang Bang, her favorite tattoo artist, Rihanna told Oprah “Back in the day, they would carve into the walls and they would carve a falcon, because they didn’t have another way of saying a king in the sky.” 

Rihanna Egyptian Falcon Tattoo Right Foot

Nefertiti & Script 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Another piece that demonstrates Rihanna’s fascination with Egypt is her black and gray profile of Queen Nefertiti. An older piece, this tattoo is rarely seen thanks to its location on Rihanna’s ribcage. She has never officially stated what the meaning behind this piece is, but Nefertiti was a powerful Queen and has long been a figure associated with strength and devotion. Below Nefertiti, is a portion of Arabic script that translates to “Freedom in God” and most likely is a tribute to the role faith in her life. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Fine Line Script Tattoo

On the right side of her chest, following the natural line of her collar bone, Rihanna has clean script executed in a restrained cursive typeface that reads: Never a mistake, always a lesson. 

The piece is written in reverse so that she can read it in the mirror. When asked about the significance of Rihanna’s tattoo, artist Bang Bang, who applied the piece, had this to say: 

“I asked her why she wanted that and she said, ‘It’s kind of my motto in life for everything.’ Instead of considering things to be mistakes, considering them lessons…. She said that she wanted to do it in gray, rather than black, because she wanted it to be more subtle…. She didn’t want it to draw too much attention.” 

Rihanna Collarbone Tattoo Flowing Script

Hand Tattoos 

Rihanna Right Hand Tattoo Eastern

Rihanna has numerous small tattoos on her right hand to which she continues to add and enhance. At various points in time she has also done some temporary tattoo work, including a Thug Life semi permanent piece across her knuckles by high profile tattoo artist Mark Mahoney. At the time Thug Life sent Twitter into melt down. 

1. Tribal 

The first hand tattoo was a traditional tribal design the singer got while on tour in New Zealand. Drawing inspiration from traditional Maori tattoo, the piece is a stylized claw that wraps around her wrist and flows over the thumb onto her hand. She has said that the piece represents strength and love, and that she enjoyed the Maori tattoo practice, though it “hurt like hell!” 

2. Chevrons 

In 2013 Rihanna expanded her hand tattoo with the addition of a variety of chevrons and geometric designs that are also reminiscent of tribal tattoo. She has never spoken to the meaning of these interesting designs that have a loose and rudimentary feel thanks to their light color and low saturation.  

3. Henna 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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In October 2013 Rihanna completed her hand tattoo with a beautiful and elegant design inspired by Indian henna art and lace fabric. Wrapping around her wrist and following the existing lines of the Maori tribal tattoo, the patterns flow across her knuckles. Completed by collaborator Bang Bang and tattoo artist Cally-Jo, the pieces speak to Rihanna’s unique style and interest in different cultural traditions. 

4. Cross Tattoo and Religious Reminders

Located on the inside of her right wrist is an elaborate cross that is produced through the application of fully saturated black ink and a clever use of negative space. Completed in 2014 by her go-to tattoo artist Bang Bang, the cross uses black ink to close the gaps between this piece and her henna design on the same hand, creating one cohesive tattoo. 

Rihanna also has a minimalist cross on the upper part of her chest and are representative of the role of faith in the singer’s life. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rebelle Fleur and Tiny Star Tattoo

A simple neck tattoo etched by tattooist Bang Bang, the French rebelle fleur translates to rebel flower – not rebellious flower as some have claimed -and is drawn in neatly flowing cursive on the left side of Rhi Rhi’s neck, while on the inside of her ear is a simple star tattoo. 

Rihanna Rebelle Fleur Cursive And Simple Star Inside Ear

Pisces Glyph Tattoo

One of Rihanna’s oldest tattoos not to be covered up, her Pisces glyph was inked behind her right ear in 2006. Rihanna’s birthday falls on February 20. 

Rihanna Pisces Tattoo Behind Right Ear

Handgun Tattoo

Part of her frequent work in the safe hands of artist Bang Bang, Rihanna trusts his honesty when it comes to the design process, and what ink ideas work or don’t. Her small handgun tattoo was originally going to be a pair on each side, but Bang Bang managed to get the request modified to the Rihanna tattoo we see today; a singular, small black ink weapon etched on her right rib cage along the bra line. 

Rihanna Small Handgun Tattoo

Sanskrit Prayer Tattoo

The first of her pieces inked by Bang Bang, this Sanskrit Prayer tattoo was done in 2006. This form of tattoo is becoming increasingly popular, due in part by the rise in Eastern cultural access, and the role of celebrity tattoo, with Tibetan and Asian influenced pieces. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Roman Numerals Birth Date

Rihanna has XI.IV.LXXXVI in block black script tattooed along the top curve of her left shoulder. These Roman Numerals commemorate the birth date of her bestie Melissa, who has Rhi Rhi’s date tattooed on herself as well. 

Rihanna Roman Numerals Tattoo Left Shoulder Line

1988 Ankle Tattoo and Camo Shark Tattoo

Rihanna has some wicked Old English style numbering to mark 1988, the year she was born. It sits on the top of her right ankle, while on the left ankle is a camouflage shark tattoo which she got inked to match close friend Drake. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Treble Clef 

Popular among singers and a go to musician celebrity tattoo, Rihanna had a treble clef and sixteenth musical note tattooed on the inside of her right foot. She got this small piece in Australia in 2006 as a tribute to her passion for music, though little did she know, in only a few short years she would be the queen of the pop world. She eventually got these pieces covered by the larger Egyptian falcon design. 

Enjoy Rihanna’s tattoo journey? Click on the links below for more celebrity ink galleries:

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