Indian Tattoos

Written by: Pete

Our body is a piece of art in itself. Many people go an extra mile decorating their bodies with an art form. A tattoo is basically the insertion of pigment or dyes or ink into the dermis layer of your skin and they can be temporary or permanent depending on your choice.

About Indian Tattoos

The tattoo history dates back to the 18th century where people of Samoa islands practiced this a lot. In Samoan islands, the word tattoo was derived from the word ‘Tatau.’

The word Tatau meant ‘to strike.’ The word ‘Tattoo,’ which is in English comes from the Dutch word ‘Taptoe.’ The tattoo art spread across the globe, across many countries. India has got its own set of tattoos which has become a cultural thing, especially for the tribes. Indian Tattoos and their practice date back to ancient times.

Tattoos are a significant trend nowadays in many places. If you decide to get a tattoo, it is pretty obvious that you have a big reason behind this decision. Tattoos represent a story, a fact, an event, an incident or anything worth your memory. The choice of the type of tattoo (temporary or permanent) is all yours.

Tattoos are categorised as the pictorial ones, the symbolic ones, and the decorative ones. The term that defines the art of making a tattoo is called Tattooing.

The Pictorial tattoos represent a particular thing or a pet or a person that has an important role or place in your life. The Symbolic tattoos depict the actual meaning or reason behind that particular design whereas the Decorative tattoos are merely for decorating the body without any specific meaning or reason behind them. You will find many people getting an Indian tattoo to pay their respect to the Indian culture.

History Of Indian Tattoos

Since now you know about how old the tattoo tradition is, let’s talk about the history of Indian Tattoos. For hundreds of years’ Indian tattoos have been around for various reasons. It is not only to beautify the human body but to also represent traits of the community or society.

Therefore, tattoos represent status in society; some get them to decorate their bodies; some get them done to pay respect to their ancestors or cultures. Many tribe members ink themselves to get identified that they belong to that particular tribe of a region and it also helps in quickly identifying their bodies if they were to die in a battle.

It is very common among tribes. In northern India many ladies get their tattoos done to represent jewelry that cannot be taken away from them and also to highlight when they come to age for getting married. The young girls in certain tribes get a segment of tattoo every year and when it is complete, it means the girl is ready to get married.

Also to protect girls from the other tribes, they were tattooed to make them look unappealing and avoid their abduction. The Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh is known to protect its tribal girls this way. In Singhpo tribe it is the other way round. Only married women and men are to be tattooed. The young and unmarried girls are prohibited from getting inked. In Arunachal Pradesh, the Noctes and Wanchos tribal people regard tattoos as the representation of power, courage, strength, etc.

The ancient methods of getting a tattoo were excruciating. It involved cutting and piercing of skin using thorns and sharp-edged objects and filling them up with animal fat mixed with colors especially the blue color. As the wound heals and the tattoo appears, it ends up being clear and dark. The Apatani and Singhpo tribes have the oldest form of tattoo art.

In Southern India the ancient Indian tattoos such as the nomadic Korathi and Kollam tattoos are prominent. The Indian tattoos here are the geometric patterns which are tattooed on calves, hands, and shins. The Indian tattoo, i.e. the Kollam tattoo is a labyrinth-like design which is believed to ward off all the evil spirits around you.

The Central Indian people have their reasons to get tattoos. Just like the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, the Dhanuks tribe in the state of Bihar ink their women to make them unpleasant and unappealing to look at. In Jharkhand, the tribes use tattoos to note down events that took place. It is noting down history over the body so that it isn’t lost.

Indian Tattoos Meanings

Tattoos are for both, men and women and they vary from person to person and design to design. As you already know, tattoos represent something, i.e. they have a particular reason to be. They depict a loved one, a tragedy never to forget about, a sign to get identified with, a design that represents your soul or your characteristics, strength, power, etc. Some people get Indian Tattoos done to represent the roots of their family or tribe. Different Indian tattoos signify different meanings.

1. Kollam Tattoos

There are Indian Tattoos named the Kollam tattoos which are a labyrinth design. Many tribal people get this Indian tattoo done believing that it wards off all the evil spirits in this world and makes it easy to meet their fellow tribal loved ones in the hereafter.

2. The Significance of Black-dot

One of the most common forms of Indian tattoo is the ‘black-dot.’ This subtle and straightforward Indian tattoo is adorned to ward off the evil eye. It also signifies the fact the person adorning the black dot is already taken.

3. The Panch

Another form of dot-type Indian tattoo is the ‘Panch’ which signifies the unity of the Five Pandavas of Mahabharata. It has four dots which forms up a square. The fifth dot lies inside of the square.

4. The Lotus Tattoo

An India tattoo that signifies wealth and health is the Lotus tattoo accompanied by the nine planets. The lotus represents wealth and the nine planets are believed to protect the bearer of the tattoo against all the negative influences.

5. The Feather Tattoo

The feather tattoo which is one of the old designs amongst the Indian tattoos is very common with the Indians of Native America. These feather Indian tattoos are a hit, especially with the ladies.
The Flower Tattoos: Theses Indian tattoos are ubiquitous amongst the girls and ladies.

Different flowers can be inked on the skin depending upon the choice of the bearer. There are roses, sunflowers, lilies, tulips, etc. they do not have any significant meaning but are only tattooed to decorate the area. They can be colourful or simply black design.

6. Animal Tattoos

Some people like to get animal tattoos. For instance, some of them get a Tiger or a Lion tattoo on their backs. The Tiger represents the strength and the Lion tattoo stands for bravery.

7. Religious Tattoos

Many people especially devoted pupils get symbolic tattoos signifying their religion. The most common religious Indian tattoo that you will find is the ‘OM.’ It is believed that the ‘OM’ sign protects the bearer against all bad. Many devotees get their god and goddesses inked onto them too.

Types of Indian Tattoos

By now you are familiar with what are the tattoos, what is the significance behind the Indian tattoos and how they speak themselves. There are many types of Indian tattoos such as

1. Religious Tattoos

Mostly done by devotees which include Gods and Goddesses faces and also ‘swastika’ or ‘OM.’

2. Fashionable Tribal Tattoos

The youngsters usually go for these kinds.

3. Original Tribal Indian Tattoos

People get it done to pay respect and to honour India.

4. Name Tattoos

Names of the beloved ones are tattooed on the body,

5. Celebrity Tattoos

Fans often get their idol’s or celebrity’s face tattooed on their bodies

6. Quotes Tattoos

These are the mantras or proverbs or shlokas. Check out this link to know more about the various types of Indian tattoos.

Indian Tattoo Designs

There are diverse Indian tattoos that illustrate different meaning. For many hundred years’ Indian tattoos have been around for various reasons. It is not only to decorate your body but it also represents multiple traits of the community or society. There are the traditional Indian tattoo designs, latest Indian tattoos, religious Indian tattoos, Indian designs which are a fusion of both the traditional and modern culture, etc.


Nowadays tattoos are a big hit or can be called a ‘trend’ that has set many youngsters to get one for themselves. Every tattoo design has its own little background story or significance. There are many types and designs of Indian tattoos and many get them done to honour India.

The Indian tattoo art form dates back to ancient times. There are a variety of designs out of which few signify a particular thing whereas few others are only for decorative purposes.

Copyright © 2023 Tattify. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy & Cookie Disclaimer.

The information contained on Tattify is intended for informational and educational purposes only. None of the statements made on this website are intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease, infection or illness. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before using tattoo/skincare products that may interfere with medications or known conditions. This article is provided with the understanding that it does not constitute medical or professional advice or services. If you are looking for help with your condition, please seek out a qualified medical practitioner.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.