Ethnic Tattoo And Its Influences
They are often called Tribal or Traditional. A more accurate term would be Ethnic tattoos.
The roots of ethnic tattoo art can be found in numerous ethnic groups across the planet and History, including Ancient Egyptians, Vikings, Gallics, Celts, Inuits and many other cultures from Borneo, Thailand, North Africa, Philippines, and indeed Pacific islands, the most influential.
The word tattoo is coming from Polynesian word tatau. Tatau is a very strong tradition is Polynesia, linked to ancient beliefs and sacred things. The designs were telling the stories of their owner, and sometimes indicating their place in society, just as a physical ID. It was also a rite of passage, from childhood to adulthood. The tatau art has been brought to the islands by the migrations from Southeast Asia and then developed differently on each of them in a sort of endemic way. Many of the small islands have then lost their traditional tattoo art, and the Christian evangelization also contributed to the disappearance of the tattoo's practice. But, fortunately, thanks to the work of ethnologists and tattoo enthusiasts, ethnic tattoo is knowing a revival, winning back its place in Polynesian society and in global tattoo art.
This leaded to the different Polynesian styles we know today : the Maori (from New Zealand), the Samoa, the Hawaiian (from Hawaii), the Tahitian (from Tahiti) and the Marquesan (from Marquesan Islands). As the islands are now open to other cultures, the different styles are mixing, becoming more adapted to modernity and gaining in elegance. If the neo-tribal, a 90s trend from the United States, inspired by the style of Borneo was not the best example of the gift of ethnic tattoo in contemporary tattoo, the revival now allows beautiful and impressive designs. Not only coveted in the islands, artists and clients all over the world are feeling connections with the ethnic cultures and aesthetic. Natives sometimes consider it as tacky, but fans can also show a lot of respect to their traditions. Some forgotten practices are even waking up, such as Vikings and real Celtic tattoos.
Ethnic tattoos are now a reference and source of inspiration for rising styles such as geometric, dotwork and blackwork. Either you want to carry on the traditions of your ancestors or just because you are a passionate of tattoo art, check this selection of beautiful ethnic inspired tattoos.
A great thanks to Manu Farrarons, tattoo artist based in Tahiti and specialist in Polynesian style, for sharing his knowledge and passion.