People have been fascinated by tribal tattoos for a long time. In today’s modern world, the African tribal tattoos are still widely celebrated. You will see them in the Western culture very often. Besides their beauty, each design carries a meaning.
If you are new to African tribal tattoo designs and you want to learn about their history, read further.
Origin of the African tattoos
African tattoos came from the African culture. The very first African tattoo was found in 1994 BC on a mummy. There are some tattoo designs that date back to the 2000 BC too.
These tattoos used to protect the wearer from harms throughout his life.
It was considered s a protected mark accompanied with power. In the modern society, most of the tribal tattoo designs are worn for decoration or simply because a person has fascination with tattoos.
But traditionally, people used to wear them because tattoos protected them from evil spirits. They also considered that tattoos make them more than just humans, they make the supernatural.
The African Tattooing Rituals and Beliefs
In Africa, people used to choose Polynesian tattoo designs according to their character. Today, you would probably pick a tattoo because it is appealing but back in the days, tattoos were a symbol of bravery, courage, and other virtues that one wants to possess.
That’s why they were ready to go through the immensely painful process of getting a tattoo marked on different parts of their bodies.
Due to their dark skin, Africans could not choose black dye to get a tattoo. They would follow a process called cicatrisation to get their skin tattooed. As per this process, small openings were created on the skin to form wounded designs.
Ash was then rubbed on the wounds to make them heal fast and the scar would then become permanent.
The pain associated with the process was used to evaluate the strength of the person too. It would reveal whether a person is strong or fragile. Females who couldn’t bear the pain were bound to remain single for their lifetime since it was believed that they will be able to go through the pain of childbirth.
Males who couldn’t take the pain were considered cowards and they were not allowed to go hunting with the rest the male crowd.
Fortunately, today, anyone can get a tribal tattoo designed on their skin regardless of their color since multiple colored inks are now available and the process has become fast and less painful due to the use of machines.
Africans considered that the person with the most tattoos had a ranked higher. That’s why the chiefs used to get the more intricate designs. It was a part of the culture for women to get tattoos on their chins and lips.
Africans also referred tribal tattoos to their gods since tattoos were considered a way to protect themselves and heal. They used to pray to ensure their tattoos looked attractive.