Noupe Editorial Team August 20th, 2020

Body Art of the Centuries: Greatest Examples of Traditional Tattoos

Getting inked has become a lot more popular recently, but tattoos are not something recent. In fact, tattoos are deeply embedded in human history and play an important role in many cultures and traditions. 

The oldest evidence that tattooing existed comes from the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe, where there are tools that signal people got inked 40,000 years ago. The earliest solid proof is found on Otzi the Iceman, who lived somewhere between 3300-3100 BC. 

So, in this article, we wanted to go over some of the traditional tattoo styles that still endure to this day. We’ve searched far and wide to find the best examples of each. It’s important to remember that, when people refer to traditional tattoos, they are usually talking about traditional American tattoos, but we thought that it wouldn’t do justice to other traditional tattoo styles. 

So in this article, we’ll be going over Japanese tattoos, Nordic tattoos, Polynesian tattoos, and traditional American tattoos.  So, without too much delay, let’s get right into it. 

American Traditional Tattoos

While we’re not a huge fan of traditional American tattoos, their popularity cannot be denied. Traditional American tattoos are defined by their symbolism and bright colors. They are usually rather small tattoos but there are larger versions or combinations of various different designs.

Traditional American tattoo dagger design
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo bird and heart
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo butterfly tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo rose and clock tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo snake woman tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo lighthouse and ship tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo gas lamp tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo anchor tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo rose tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo scorpion tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo lighthouse tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo hamsa tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo heart tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo crab tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo chameleon tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo gypsy woman tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo jellyfish tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo sailor tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional american tattoo watch tattoo
Source: Pinterest

Traditional Japanese Tattoos

Did you know that tattooing is illegal in Japan? Inking has been outlawed for the last 200 years but still, people carry the vibrant and iconic Japanese style tattoos all over their bodies proudly. Tattooing in Japan has been carried mostly by underground artists, or a rare few who had a medical license to do so. Traditional Japanese tattoos include cultural symbols, a vibrant color palette, and are usually large tattoos that can cover an entire limb or even the whole body. Most iconic designs usually include the Koi fish, dragons, tigers, oni (Japanese devils), and Lotus themed designs.

traditional japanese tattoo frog tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo crab tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo leg tattoos
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo water lily tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo dragon tattoos
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo koi fish tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo tiger tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo koi fish arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo sakura tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo coiling dragon tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo koi fish arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo tiger back tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo snake tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo dragon arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo nure-onna tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo koi fish back tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo golden koi fish tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo detailed dragon tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo eagle tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo full body woman tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional japanese tattoo full body man tattoo
Source: Pinterest

Traditional Polynesian Tattoos

Polynesia refers to the islands and tribes that are a part of Oceania. The Polynesian triangle is the home of many island tribes such as the Samoans, Hawaiians, the Maori, Tahitians, Cook Islanders, Marquesans, and Tongans. While there are slight cultural variations between tribes such as some variances in languages, inking remains a central and irreplaceable aspect of all Polynesian cultures. In fact, it was so important that tribe members who shied away from getting inked were shunned from the community and people who had incomplete tattoos would carry them as a reminder of their weakness for the rest of their lives. Traditional Polynesian tattoos are a bit different than the rest of the tattoo traditions on this article and don’t fall under tribal tattoos as their symbolism comes from patterns and the body parts they are inked on. A tattoo that is on the chest or arm means something entirely different than a tattoo on the lower body even if the designs might seem similar.

traditional polynesian tattoo maori warrior tattoo
Source: Pinterest
 traditional polynesian tattoo full back tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo owl and wave arm tattoo
Source: Dennis Mata’afa
traditional polynesian tattoo tiki mask pectoral tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo shark teeth pectoral tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo hawaiian tiki totem tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo full sleeve tattoo
Source: Dennis Mata’afa
traditional polynesian tattoo upper arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo tiki totem tattoo
Source: Rob Deut
traditional polynesian tattoo colored maori shoulder tattoo
Source: Shane Gallagher Coley
traditional polynesian tattoo calve tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo maori calve tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo full body tribal tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo hawaaiian lower leg tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo elbow tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo lower arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest
traditional polynesian tattoo modern lower arm tattoo
Source: Pinterest

Nordic Tattoos

While there are conflicting historical reports on wether Vikings were inked or not, Nordic styled tattoos are great both because of the patterns used and the symbolism behind them. The intricate nordic themed patterns woven together with mythological signs make up for great tattoos that both are good looking and hold meanings behind them.

nordic tattoos eagle shoulder tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic tattoos viking axe tattoo
Source: Pinterest
full sleeve nordic tattoo
Source: Pinterest
full pectoral nordic tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic full sleeve viking tattoo
Source: BaVi
nordic compass and viking tattoo
Source: BaVi
nordic tattoo viking compass tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic tattoo dragon tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic tattoo jormungandr tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic tattoo wolf shoulder tattoo
Source: Pinterest
nordic tattoo mjolnir tattoo
Source: Pinterest

All in all, we love tattoos, tattoos are cool. Carrying a great artists‘ art on your body is a great honor. While tattoos are getting increasingly popular in the last few decades, they have their roots in the history of our kind and that makes them even cooler! If you think we did any injustice to any tattoo style or if you believe another type of traditional tattoo styles should be featured in this article, leave us a comment. If you know any great tattoos that would fit this article or if you have one yourself, reach out! We’ll love to feature them in our article.

Noupe Editorial Team

The jungle is alive: Be it a collaboration between two or more authors or an article by an author not contributing regularly. In these cases you find the Noupe Editorial Team as the ones who made it. Guest authors get their own little bio boxes below the article, so watch out for these.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

trabzon escortyalova escortedirne escortmanisa escortgörükle escort