Native Americans were intensely spiritual. They followed many practices which were dedicated to their belief systems. Tattooing was one among them. Tattooing was an important practice that was followed by Native Americans. During those times, people did not have modern machines to ink their skin. We can’t imagine the pain endured by these individuals but are sure that tattooing definitely required strength. Native American Tattoos are not just fancy designs but hold spiritual significance. While people get tattoos for fun and look cool; if you are planning to get yourself inked with an American Indian tattoo design then make sure you know the significance of that particular design. We bring 15 popular Native American tattoos and their significance.
#1 Dreamcatcher Tattoo
These have a variety of shades and ornamentation and can have embellishments with the pictures of crystals, animals etc. Dreamcatcher tattoos are considered one of the most meaningful tattoos in the realm of Native American tattoos. Tracing its origin, it was believed that native American tribe of Anishinabe were the first to develop them. This tattoo is believed to shoo away the negative vibes.
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#2 Feather Tattoo
Feathers have always shone prominence in the culture of Native America. They have been included in the designs of their jewelry, clothing and the likes. Native Americans used to believe that the natural things in the universe posses spirits and the birds were also included in this notion. They trusted that when a feather of a bird falls from the sky, it contains the energy of the free-flight of bird, the sky, and wind. The feathers to them were representative of almighty’s power and they were given as a present to warriors when they attain any special feat. Also, birds were considered as special creatures which can act as a special messenger from the universe and guiding light. This is why feathers are so much a part of Native American tattoos.
#3 Drum Tattoo
The drum was used to feature celestial bodies and phenomena of nature. The earth was considered sacred and was given a stature of mother by Native Americans. In relation to the aforementioned statement, the drum was used to portray the heartbeat of mother earth during those times. Even today, the drum holds an important place in Indian rituals and ceremonies.
#4 Falcon Tattoo
Falcon Tattoo’ roots lie in the ancient Mississippian culture. In the realm of Native American tattoos, Falcon was believed to fly high and was believed to be a bird who can communicate between Upper world (heaven) and the earth. It was also believed that the Falcon is ‘supernatural deity’ who lives in heaven and so was thought as a symbol of grit and power.
#5 Butterfly Tattoo
Beautiful butterflies were believed to be a messenger of God according to Native Americans. The message was trusted to be good or bad according to the colors of the butterfly. For instance, as the black shade was considered bad, so an appearance of black-hued butterfly was considered the writing on the wall whereas yellow shade of the insect was the sign of hope, Moreover, their actions also hold significance. For example, if a butterfly sits on one’s shoulder, it was believed that it has a message of comfort.
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#6 Chunkey Tattoo
This is an example of another symbol of one of the Native American tattoos which has its origin in the Mississippian culture. Chunkey was a game enjoyed by American Indians of Mississippi as this game involved high risks and gambles. The Chunky game consisted of disc and spear which is often depicted in different styles in Native American tattoos.
#7 Crow Tattoo
Native Americans had the notion that crow is wisest among all birds and has a special power to talk and interact. The crow symbol, therefore, portrayed wisdom. This bird was also considered sacred and was also believed to show the path to people who go on spiritual journeys.
#8 Dragonfly Tattoo
The dragonfly symbolized speed, happiness, and pious nature. During the ancient times of Native America, the people had a belief that dragonfly followed snakes and stitched the snake’s skin if the latter got injured. This creature was known to be the curer of a snake.
Fire has great importance in many cultures and Native American culture is no exception. The presence of fire was very important in all ceremonies and rituals in Native America. For example, smoke which came out from the fire was used for cleaning sacred and ritualistic items like pipes, drums, shakers etc. before using them in the ceremonies. It also represented the cleansing of the human soul and and its renewal. This is why people who believe in purity through fire get their bodies inked with this tattoo.
Earth symbol in Native America was used to depict equality which shows that no other person is important than the other. It was also used to show respect to mother earth. The earth symbol also showed the circular style which laid emphasis on the fact that no breaks and holds are included in a circle hence, it is strongest. So, circle and earth symbol were the sign of strength and equality. People of Native America and Native American Indians used to worship the earth and this is why Native American Tattoos of earth exist even today as many people still worship nature.
#11 Kokopelli Tattoo
One of the most beautiful depiction through symbols in Native America was Kokopelli symbol which was a portrayal of fertility and was itself a deity of fertility. In some Southwest Native American cultures. Kokopelli is mostly shown as a hunchbacked, flute-player in a dancing posture. It is also shone with a huge Kokopelli is often depicted with a large phallus and horns on his forehead. Horns is a portrayal of spiritual power, especially to those animals who did not naturally have them like snakes and birds. The hunchback meant that the sack had seeds which are going to be sown for the new crops. It was also the sign for spring time and closing of winters,.
Native Americans labelled the owl as a parent of supernatural and sacred information and knowledge. They used to look up to owl’s action to forecast the weather conditions. They also considered owl as the wise bird as it observed more and spoke least!
#13 Native American Warrior Tattoos
Warrior tattoo meant the heroism and spirit of strength in Native American culture. The warrior special tattoos were used to be engraved on the skin of people if the person had achieved some special field as a warrior. It was also the sign of bravery. The most common and loved warrior symbol among Native American tattoos is the lady with the feathers.
#14 Arrow Tattoos
Cherokees were the American-Indian natives who used to inhabit most of US and are now living on reservations in Oklahoma and North Carolina. They have derived their own symbols for interaction and communication. Their symbolism is based on syllabary system which denotes fixed syllable. One of the most common cherokee tattoos is arrow tattoo. Different arrow tattoo designs hold different significance. For example, an arrow facing downwards signifies peace.
#15 Deer Track Tattoo
The deer was worshiped by Native Americans and the deer track tattoo had different meaning in different tribes. One of the most common meanings of this tattoo design is that deer track signifies that the deer in the region is plentiful. The direction of the marks told the direction in which deer can be found.