Ornamental Tattoos - Ideas, Meaning, and History

Written by: Jason White

The ornamental style of tattooing imitates wood carvings on the body. These images consist of lines, spirals, waves, and crosses, often united in patterns. Such drawings look especially beautiful on a large scale, but small ornamental tattoos can also be successfully done.

Ornamental Tattoo Features

  • Clear, fine lines
  • Symmetry
  • Using mainly black inks (rarely with the addition of red)
  • The tattoo is filled with various interlacing and nodes
  • Geometrical figures like circles, squares, and triangles
  • Popularly depicted are images of the sun or moon, flower, or ocean themes
  • Celtic patterns. Such patterns have a large number of interlacing, which are similar to braids and basket weaving.
  • Polynesian patterns. They consist of geometric figures, stylized images of sea creatures (turtles, octopuses, sharks, etc.), the sun, and masks representing different island spirits. The Polynesian pattern is characterized by a complete black painting of lines.
  • Indian patterns. These are the typical patterns of the peoples of North and South America: Maya, Aztec, Maori. For example, in Mesoamerica (the Mayan and Aztecs) tattoos involved patterns and images of mythological beings typical in Indians of South America. In Haida, totem pole images of animals and deities of Haida tribes are depicted.

In general, ornamental tattoos are easy to distinguish due to their main feature – the presence of ornament. Moreover, this tattooing style has different subtypes, as listed below.

Ornamental Tattoo Ideas For Women

Ornamental Tattoo Ideas For Men

Ornamental Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Ornamental Foot Tattoo Ideas

Ornamental Bracelet Tattoo Ideas

Ornamental Back Tattoo Ideas

Ornamental Tattoo Symbolism

Besides the fact that an ornament is a charming decoration, it often has a hidden meaning. Ornamental tattoos, first of all, symbolize special protection. Many have amulets tattooed on their skin which they believe offers protection and helps in difficult situations.

Such symbolism and meaning are influenced by the emergence of tattoo ornaments; as they originated from the time when our ancestors would ask for help from different deities. Depending on the elements of the image, the ornament could mean fertility, power, beauty, wisdom, sacred knowledge, well-being, and a connection with the universe, amongst others.

Since ancient times, it was believed that floral and deciduous ornaments symbolize harmony, femininity, protection, and family happiness; red was also a very popular color. The lotus flower in ornamental style tattoos means solar energy, morality, purity, and longevity. Regarding color, our ancestors believed that the color red warded off bad energy.

Often tattooing was performed as a coming-of-age ritual, indicating a child’s transition to adulthood.

However, nowadays, ornamental tattoos need not have a secret meaning or connotation and can just be a beautiful and captivating image.

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