African tribal tattoos: 35 meaningful designs for men and women

African tribal tattoos: 35 meaningful designs for men and women

African people embraced tattooing for identification, self-expression, and spiritual protection purposes. However, that has significantly changed over time, but not entirely. African tribal tattoos have a rich and diverse history—they carry deep cultural and spiritual meanings. African tribal tattoos are a great way to express yourself while showing off your love of tribal culture.

African tribal tattoos
African tribal tattoos. Photo: @chrisautry_tattooer, @Martyn Brooker, @mediastintass_tattoo on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

African tribal tattoos not only serve as a form of self-expression but also carry with them messages steeped in cultural significance that span across generations and nations. Many people honour their cultural heritage or express their admiration for African art and culture through these meaningful designs.

List of African tribal tattoos

With unique designs and symbols of hardships, courage, landscape, and wildlife, these tattoos have an obvious attraction and beauty, making them the ideal choice for men and women of all age groups. Here is a list of meaningful African tribal tattoo designs to try.

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1. Hand African tribal tattoo

African tattoos for men
Tribal. Photo: @borneospiraltattoo, @akb_future on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

These designs can hold deep cultural significance and are often used to honour one's heritage or pay homage to the traditions and beliefs of African cultures.

2. African woman

African tribal tattoos
African woman. Photo: @luck_n_allie_tattoo, @tatianatattoos on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Many people choose African women portrait as their tattoos for they symbolize beauty, bravery and wisdom.

3. Lady in locs

If you are looking for African women tattoo ideas, consider having a queen in locs as your next design. It is not only beautiful but symbolises some level of authority authority.

4. Flower

African tattoos
Flowers. Photo: @nicholasjames187, @TattoosbyTK on Instagram, Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

These tattoos can be meaningful to those with a connection to Africa or those who appreciate the beauty and diversity of African flora and it's natural landscape.

5. Duafe

African tattoos for women
Duafe. Photo: @Peidinho Malaco, @brina_bear911 on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The duafe symbol is originally from Ghana and is represented by a wooden comb. This tattoo design symbolizes feminine qualities such as patience, prudence, fondness, love, and care. The duafe tattoo can be a loving reminder of one’s own womanhood or African roots.

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6. Horus eye

The Horus eye is an Egyptian tattoo that symbolizes protection, healing and rejuvenation. According to Egyptians, Horus is an Egyptian God who lost his left eye in a struggle with another god called Seth.

7. African goddess

African tattoos for women
African goddesses. Photo: @Valhalla Tattoo, @Stoffer Tattoos on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

If you're drawn to Africa's vast mythology and feminine spirits, an African goddess tattoo may be your perfect choice. These tattoos can be a way for individuals to connect with their African heritage or to honour the powerful women in African mythology.

8. Scar

African face tattoos
Scars. Photo: @Hopestiny Glams, @Heather Biancheri on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tribal scar tattoo, also known as tribal scarification, is a type of body modification that involves intentionally scarring the skin to create a tribal-inspired design. It's a practice that has been embraced for centuries in various cultures worldwide, including some African tribes.

9. Tribal zebra tattoos

Zebras are one of the most distinguished and striking animals and undeniably the best-dressed animals in Africa. Tribal zebra tattoos symbolize freedom, individuality, and the wild spirit of the animal kingdom.

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10. Sankofa

African tattoo symbols
Sankofa. Photo: @david_tattoo_arte, @lola_picasso on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The Sankofa tattoo is a symbol from the Akan people of Ghana that represents the importance of learning from the past in order to move forward. The Sankofa tattoo is associated with resilience, growth, and wisdom.

11. Mask

African tattoo ideas
Mask. Photo: @jonmesatattoos, @divinedesign_ink on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

African masks carry deep meaning and symbolize a form of transformation or acquiring a new entity. Masks are also essential during religious or dance rituals and ceremonies.

12. African continent tattoo

African tribal tattoos
African continent. Photo: @cams_tats_711, @kinginktattoos_johnfabianor on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

This tattoo design can symbolize a deep connection to Africa and one's African heritage, as well as pride in one's roots and culture.

13. Giraffe

The giraffe tattoo is good for someone who wants to look artistic and trendy. The giraffe tattoo is a symbol of good luck, wealth, happiness, vision, and well-being.

14. Aya

African tribal tattoo meanings
Aya. Photo: @Confessions of a Tattoo Artist, @Wonderland Tattoo PDX on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The aya plant also known as the fern is a hardy plant that symbolizes resourcefulness and resilience, as it can adapt and thrive in various environments. Aya tattoo can represent the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom and the ability to adapt and overcome challenges.

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15. South African flag

Most people get the South African flag tattoo to honour their roots and the love of their country. This type of tattoo can be done with any other African country's flag.

16. Ankh

traditional African tattoos
Ankh. Photo: @mriverotattoos on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol that represents eternal life and the union of male and female principles. An ankh tattoo can be a powerful symbol of life and rebirth and can be a way to connect with the rich history and culture of Egypt.

17. Shaka Zulu tattoos

Zulu African tribal tattoos
Shaka Zulu. Photo: @john_martin_tattoo, @zecadiogo on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Shaka Zulu is one of the most remarkable and influential Zulu monarchs of all time. These design is greatly revered among the Zulus and symbolized unity, bravery and victory.

18. Roots tattoo

African roots tattoo or mother of Africa tattoo is a great and unique way to honour your ancestry. The tattoo comes in many designs mostly featuring an African Acacia tree or the continent itself sprouting roots.

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19. Seashell

African tribal tattoo meanings
Seashell. Photo: @rasantattoo, @moonstonetombstone on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The seashell is a symbol of beauty, fertility, and the life-giving power of the ocean. In many African cultures, the seashell is also a symbol of good fortune and protection.

20. The sun design

Tribal sun tattoo has become more popular in recent years and is often associated with warmth, light, and life. It can symbolize renewal, energy, and vitality.

21. Crocodile tattoo

The crocodile is an important symbol in many African cultures, representing power, strength, and wisdom. In some traditions, the crocodile is believed to have a connection to the spirit world and is seen as a protector.

22. African warrior designs

traditional African tattoos
Warriors. Photo: @hardcore_ruiz, @mediastintass_tattoo on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

African warriors are known to be formidable in battle and often never give up. African warrior tattoo designs can vary greatly depending on the specific culture and tribe being represented. These tattoo denotes physical strength and courage.

23. The Horus god

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African tattoo symbols
Horus god. Photo: @Black Magic Ink, @Julie Stock Artist on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

African warriors believed in numerous gods and goddesses to give them the power to fight and win. Horus is a falcon-headed god and one of Egypt's most commonly used symbols. If you are looking for an African tattoo sleeve, try the Horus-inspired design.

24. Anvil

African tattoo symbols
Anvil. Photo: @manuelribautattooer on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

An anvil tattoo typically represents strength, perseverance, and craftsmanship. An anvil is a tool used by blacksmiths to shape and mould metal into useful objects. It can also symbolizes diligence and the importance of putting some effort to achieve one's goals.

25. Elephant

African tattoos for men
Elephants tattoos. Photo: @Martyn Brooker, @crematattoo.estudio on Facebook, Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tribal elephant tattoos are a popular choice for those who want to show their appreciation for these magnificent creatures. The elephant carries a strong spiritual meaning for African people, as it is viewed as the source of wisdom, according to African mythology.

26. Tribal Celtic tattoos

meaningful African tattoo designs
Celtic tattoos. Photo: @chrisautry_tattooer, @Celtic Tattoos on Instagram, Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tribal Celtic tattoos are popular among those seeking to honour their heritage, celebrate their connection to nature, or express a sense of mystery and symbolism through body art.

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27. Shield

traditional African tattoos
shields. Photo: @sinonskindbn on Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

A shield tattoo can have different meanings, depending on what you pair it along with it. However, it is usually a powerful representation of strength, protection, and cultural heritage.

28. Bird

traditional African tattoos
Birds. Photo: @tattoosandtattooart on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tribal bird tattoos are famous among men and women and can be inked on various body parts, including the forearm, chest, back, or shoulder. They symbolize freedom, strength, wisdom, intelligence, and gracefulness.

29. Lion design

Lion tattoo is a popular design that resonates with people who want to show off their African heritage or their love for the majestic animal. African people see lions as a source of power, courage, protection, and wisdom.

30. Pyramid

African tattoos for men
Pyramids. Photo: @nicholasjames187, @TattoosbyTK on Instagram, Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

A pyramid tattoo is an iconic Egyptian pyramid design representing ancient architecture, history, and power. The pyramid symbolizes stability, strength, and durability, often associated with the pharaohs and gods of ancient Egypt.

31. Acacia tree

African tattoo ideas
Acacia trees. Photo: @EB Tattoo, @evanschapptattoos on Facebook, Instagram (modified by author)
Source: UGC

If you are looking to pay homage to your heritage, the acacia tree tattoo should be your pick. Depending on the design and ideas, this tattoo image can be colourful or black and white, realistic or schematic. The acacia tree stands for love that is true, chaste, and pure.

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32. Adinkra

meaningful African tattoo designs
Adinkra tattoos. Photo: @glensidetattoo, @rochmayer on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The traditional Adinkra symbols appeal to many people wishing to get Afrocentric tattoos. The Adinkra tattoo denotes integrity, tolerance, harmony, determination, and protection.

33. Baobab tree

African tattoo symbols
Baobab trees. Photo: @Passion For Ink Tattoo Shop, @Jordan Schroder on Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The baobab tree symbolizes strength, longevity, and resilience, making it a popular choice for tattoos with deep meanings.

34. Tribal horn tattoos

African tattoo ideas
Horns. Photo: @abbiesnake_ink, @Alexandra Skarsgård Tattoo on Instagram, Facebook (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tribal horn tattoos are often associated with strength, resilience, and power and are popular among those who want to showcase their connection to nature and warrior spirit.

35. African Goddess Oya tattoo

Oya is an African goddess best recognised for her protectiveness and ferocious nature, worshipped by the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Oya is a powerful goddess with the ability to creates hurricanes and thunderstorms.

African tribal tattoos have a deep cultural and spiritual significance, representing a rich and diverse history of art. Whether you are looking to connect with your cultural roots, express your individuality, or appreciate the beauty of African art, the above meaningful African tribal tattoos are an excellent inspiration.

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Legit.ng recently published 50 best neck tattoos. Neck tattoos are a bold and impactful form of body art that has recently gained popularity. They are highly visible and can be a powerful expression of one's personality, beliefs, or passions.

A neck tattoo can be a striking and visually stunning addition to your body art collection. Here are some cool neck tattoo ideas to pay homage to your favourite things in life.

Source: Legit.ng

Authors:
Night Mongina avatar

Night Mongina (Lifestyle writer) Night Mongina is an article writer with an experience of three years. She has been working as a writer in Legit.ng since August 2021. She won the Writer of the Year Award on Legit in 2023. Night worked with (KNA) Kenya News Agency as a freelance writer (2016-2017). She graduated with a Diploma in Health Records and Information from Kisii University in 2018. In 2023, Night finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. In March 2024, she completed the Google News Initiative course. Email: nightmongina@gmail.com

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