Nearly one third of all men look at tribal tattoos first; before ever stepping foot into a tattoo shop.
And while they may appear masculine and cool, there’s actually quite a lot of meaning behind them. (Aside from just courage and boldness) The design dates all the way back to the bronze ago; that’s over five-thousand years ago. So as you can expect, the meaning and purpose is all over the place.
Yet the four most notable reasons men in ancient times embraced tribal tattoos were for: Rites of passage, marriage tattoos, totem animal guardianship, and perhaps the most bizarre of them all, magical and medical reasons. Plus each style differs with the: Aztec, Samoan, Polynesian, Indian, Hawaiian, Egyptian, Maori, and Myan.
The Moari tribe from New Zealand bears facial tribal tattoos to showcase their inner strength. They believe that when you pass away, the tattoo shines a light through you to reveal who you truly are as a person.
The Haida, an Indian tribe, has tribal tattoos that resemble that of their woodcarvings. To them, this design is about being forceful by taking over the strength and power of an animal.
The Borneo tribe from Indonesia looks at tribal tattoos as a way of showing protection and achievement.
And when it comes to Polynesian, you might be surprised to know that the word “tattoo” actually stems from the Polynesian word “tatau”.
Other designs of the tribal tattoo can even represent membership, act as camouflage in the woods (ancient times), or be a part of the indigenous culture symbolizing: Pain, loss of life, and permanence.
Today, I’d like to share with you the top 60 best tribal tattoos for men, featuring designs and ideas from all over the world.
Best Tribal Tattoo Ideas
A shoulder tattoo of Polynesian inspired tribal piece. It showcases Maui the sun god at the center for power and strength.
A contemporary Polynesian inspired tribal tattoo of the warrior arm, customized to fit the personality and specifications of the wearer. Its focal piece is the turtle or honu, which is a very important creature all across Polynesian tribes. It has several meanings but it primarily means peace, unity and honors life itself. It is surrounded with meaningful patterns such as the shark’s teeth, stingray’s tail and spearhead.
This intricate tribal piece is inspired by the traditional Maori tattoo art. The design elements are customized for the wearer to be able to tell his story. The main lines represent your life’s journey and how you spent it on earth. It is also referred to as Manawa which is the Maori word for heart. From there, additional lines are added, sprung from the main, meaning there are elements from nature that are part of your story. This type of body art is unique and one of a kind.
This is perfect for those looking for designs of tribal tattoos for men. It is aesthetically striking and meaningful for the wearer who wants to enhance his skin through a story that honors his people, culture and personal journey.
The Maori tattoo is also known as moko but is more often referred as Maori tattooing. It originated from Polynesia thus, the similarity of the patterns. This is considered highly sacred and the tattooing itself observes a strict ritual from the preparation to the healing process. The intricate patterns in between the main lines represent elements of nature that are considered sacred to the tribe such as the sea and its creatures as shown by the wave patterns, and the shark’s teeth illustrated by the steep triangular lines.
A simple tribal tattoo for men in its classic black color, shaded in some parts for added depth and contrast. It is structured in a way to gently follow the shape of a fish woven with several spiral and fish hook patterns. The former signifies growth and new beginnings while the latter symbolizes prosperity, good health and strength.
This is indeed a warrior’s armored arm showcasing his own personal journey in life with tribal patterns of bravery and strength, invoking protection for the ones whom he holds dear in his life as highlighted at the center of his forearm surrounded with tiki patterns known to serve as guardians.
A very striking tribal design for a sleeve tattoo cloaked with stylized patterns of the brilliant eye of the tiki connected with blackened curve lines to make the piece look cohesive.
These tribal patterns are predominantly dominated by spirals taken from the symbolism of an unfurled fern leaf which indicates growth and new beginnings. The illustration of the patterns is bold and imperfect to giving it a deeper meaning that the story of survival is a journey of trial and error.
These tribal tattoos for men appear to be divided into two sections because of the large unfilled spearhead patterns at the center of the piece with an intersecting pattern of the stingray’s tail coming from the opposite side of the arm. Clearly a warrior’s armor of tattoos depicting courage and strength with the sharp edged-patterns then invoking the speed, agility and stealth of the stingray.
A magnificent full sleeved tribal tattoo of a well-defined arm interwoven and one of a kind illustrating the story of the wearer. The eyes of the tiki is perched on the shoulder like a god and protector watching over his kingdom.
This tribal tattoo for men cover half of the upper body of this customer donning a warrior themed creation. A Polynesian inspired creation honouring the Maori roots of either the wearer or the artist. This is a well-balanced design taking into consideration the high and lowlights to provide depth and give it a more masculine vibe with its sharp lines and patterns.
A full sleeved tattooed arm with tribal inspired sacred patterns. It looks rough, masculine and rustic illustrated in a way that it was done using the traditional tools and method.
This is a half sleeved arm tattoo inspired by the Polynesian tribal patterns combined with the contemporary illustration of these geometrical patterns in fine line. The dark patterns at the back side of the arm is filled with koru or spiral lifted from an unfurled fern in form which symbolizes new beginnings and harmony. The sharp edged overlay at the middle of the arm from the shoulder to the elbow represents a brave warrior and his affinity to his weapon.
When tribal tattoos became popular during the 90’s, this bold, black patterns became the most sought out concept.
What an awesome piece of artwork drawn on the warrior arm. This is a Celtic themed tattoo artwork derived from a cross and eternity knots tipped with a sharp edge fitting for a warrior arm.
One of the most intricate tribal patterns to create are that of the Polynesian, and in this case, from the Samoan tribes. The interlacing main lines filled with patterns, varies in meaning and what it represents. These patterns are woven to form a cohesive creation indicating harmony among his people, his tribe and his family who he protects at all times.
A customized tribal pattern which follows the natural contour of the arm with interplay of the shading in between main lines to interconnect the patterns. A tiki illustration, stylized and at the center of the shoulders, serve as the guardian of his core as told by the next layer.
A warm tone added to a tribal arm tattoo in full sleeve rendition. It looks very masculine and the details can be discussed for several hours. The time spent labouring and interpreting this piece must have taken a long time, too, This unique, one of a kind tattoo drawn on the skin and filled with patterns that are important to the artist and the wearer.
This is a sea creature shaped tattoo with the octopus’ tentacles at the bottom to give this piece a more sinister edge along with the intricate tribal patterns. The artist provided ample room for the skin to breathe in between patterns, so it can also move naturally with the wearer.
These are vicious patterns adorning one side of the chest, shaded in one solid black tone. It looks like the edges are about to move with the wearer, inspired by the tail of the stingray. It represents speed, agility and stealth of the warrior, along with the sharp edges patterns scattered throughout his arm. The shark’s teeth and the spear edges, overlapping weaved lines which tells us the unity and welfare of his tribe or family is important to our warrior.
A contemporary piece which combines two distinct heritages in one tribal themed tattoo. One pagan, one Christian. The Celtic trinity knot hugs the center of the arm like a band on a bed of intricate tribal patterns which celebrates the Maori art. The main lines are unfilled and has enough room for the eyes to breathe and appreciate the intricate patterns. This piece tells us that this is a man a brave and courageous man who is ready to take on new set of challenges.