American Indian Tattoos

Traditional or Contemporary, Tribal Tattoos are gaining popularity.

American Indian tattoos are increasing in popularity, even among people outside of the indigenous communities. Granted, some people just love tattoos, but by and far, American Indian tattoos are popular because of the strong spiritual meanings and beliefs behind the artwork. As more and more is learned about American Indians, no doubt the rise in the number of people getting inked with Indian tattoos will only increase.

What many people don't know is that in the past Indians didn't tattoo themselves simply for decoration. Tattoos and body marking were used to identify a person-whether it was to show what tribe he belonged to, what animal he was connected to in the spirit world, or what position he held in his community.

Many individuals get American Indian tattoos when they discover they have Indian ancestry. For instance, someone who discovers they are from the Cherokee tribe may opt to get the Cherokee brave symbol which consists of a thick band of color that has arrows in it. If you discover you have Hopi ancestry, you may want to get the Hopi Sun Symbol, or if you're from Sioux ancestry you may want to opt for the Thunderbird.

It's important to understand what the symbols in American Indian tattoos represent before opting for a tattoo. It would be dreadful to get one and discover that you have forever inked your body with a meaning you don't want. Here is a rundown of various American Indian tattoos and their meanings:

The Upside Down Hand: Man and his presence, work, and accomplishments

Feathers: Marks of honor, symbols of prayer

Buffalo: Leadership, strength, food

Open Hand: Friendship, peace

Horse: Mobility, wealth

Bear Paw: Water, life

Broken Branches: Someone is near

Owl: Danger

To learn more about the different types of Indian symbols and what they mean check out this Native American Design page. For translations of tattoos into words, or words into symbols, Native American Languages is a great place to start. It also gives you information about the history, myths, and culture of the American Indians.

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