Tribal tattoos are inspired by real warriors. In fact, ancient warrior tattoos were designed to distinguish one tribe from another and to ward off enemies. Tattoos were placed on the outside of the arm for quick identification, but since things have changed greatly, these tattoos can be worn anywhere on the body.
Today, tribal markings are especially attractive and popular on the forearm.
The muscularity of the forearm makes it an attractive palette for tribal designs, especially since great strength is found in the forearms. Besides that, forearm muscles are actually the most visible muscle group in the body. A tattoo placed here is sure to be noticed by everyone.
Many intricate tribal design options are available, and due to the limited surface area of the forearm, not all designs can be tattooed there. This means you’ll have to discuss viable design options with your tattoo artist instead of choosing one that just looks nice.
Creating tribal tattoos involves the use of a lot of ink to attain the right color density and design thickness, and fortunately, the skin of the forearm is perfect for maintaining these elements.
This black and gray tribal piece is a good example of the style and uses different design elements to create an interesting tattoo. The most striking feature of this design is the grimacing tiki mask. A common theme in Polynesian designs, tikis represent different gods and their associated powers and characteristics and were traditionally used as talismans for strength and protection. The layered designs and variations in direction and shading help to create a textured piece that draws the eye around the entire tattoo. The clean line work and prominent placement on the forearm ensure that this tattoo will be seen and admired.
This is an interesting black and grey design that takes tribal elements and incorporates different patterns to create a unique tattoo. The attention to detail in this design also helps it stand out from other tribal pieces. The stipple shading in the honey-comb pattern is precise and consistent creating an interesting contrast with the dense black line work of the other patterns. The composition is also interesting: the circular portion at the top of the design is reminiscent of gothic cathedrals and uses the natural lines of the crook of the arm and bicep to highlight the shape. Not your traditional tribal design, this tattoo is a good example of a tattoo blending different styles while maintaining the general aesthetic.
This black and gray tattoo utilizes tribal elements to create a unique design. While most tribal pieces are full sleeve or half sleeve tattoos, this piece uses negative space and excellent placement to capture the power of these designs without the need for a massive tattoo. The black is fully saturated helping the tattoo to pop against the wearer’s paler skin tone. The expert line work in the geometric pattern, as well as the way the design perfectly follows that natural flow of the forearm, allow this relatively small design hold up in the face of much larger pieces. This piece goes to show that bigger isn’t always better.
Here is another black and gray sleeve that uses traditional Polynesian design elements to great effect. Once again, negative space is used to create the alternating patterns that are instrumental in accomplishing this style, with bold black work helping the piece to stand out. The use of a tiki face in the center of the piece adds personality while the way the artist incorporates the body’s natural lines in the design is interesting: notice the bands that come up from the side of the wrist and the way they meet in the center around the turtle. The sun design on the elbow also perfectly uses the shape of the body. This an interesting tattoo that is a testament to the skill of the artist as well as the dedication of the wearer.
This forearm band is a good example of a tribal piece that uses a more open design. The smaller, more intricate designs associated with Polynesian tattoos are taken and enlarged in this piece making for a unique interpretation of these traditional patterns. The large negative space used to create the palm fronds on the inside of the forearm adds a smoother pattern that contrasts nicely with the more angular geometric designs. The black is well saturated and the line work is clean and consistent. This is a great black and gray tribal piece that is a good example of how slight changes in size and design can help a common tattoo stand out from the pack.
This black and grey half sleeve is another good example of the Polynesian tattoo style. The more common geometric patterns are on display on the lower part of the forearm, although the more interesting designs are further up. The different wave patterns at the top of the tattoo help this design to stray from the norm while still maintaining the elements essential to the style. The line work is consistent; however, the saturation levels of the black ink are not as uniform as they could be: notice the high density of color on the lower patterns compared to the inconsistencies in the wave designs. This can be fixed later on and does little to detract from the appeal of this interesting tribal tattoo.
This is an excellent example of a full tribal sleeve inspired by the Polynesian tattoo tradition. This black and gray piece incorporates various design elements used in this tattoo style, including a large sea turtle on the inside forearm and palm fronds on the inside bicep. The black is fully saturated, the line work is consistent and the precision in the negative space in the patterns is impressive. The way the artist also incorporated the shape of the elbow in the placement of a sun pattern is also well-executed. This detailed tattoo is well applied and will serve as a striking memorial of the wearer’s passion for these fierce designs.