In their original form, the tribal shoulder tattoos had and continue to have great cultural and social significance. Tribal tattoos served many functions depending on the culture and society that originated the designs, said societies of which included Samoan, Polynesian, Hawaiian and Maori cultures. Of course, we also have other tribal tattoo traditions that live on to this day like those from the Celtic and Native American societies.
Significance in Tribal Societies
The significance of tribal tattoos in the societies that originated the traditions is manifold. First, the tattoos signified the wearer’s social status and rank within the community. You can then easily identify the chieftains within the tribe if and when you know how to read the symbols.
Second, the tattoos represented the desired virtues to which the wearer can legitimately claim to have in his person. Thus, the tribal shoulder tattoos – and other parts of the body, for that matter – were inked after a rite of passage was completed such that the wearer can now claim to be courageous, brave and valiant – or any other desired trait within the tribal community.
Third, the tattoos served as identifying marks for the tribe. When two individuals from different tribes met, it was easy to know where the other belonged to by virtue of the tattoos on the shoulders and other parts of the body.
Indeed, tattoos were a significant part of the society and of the culture. In most of these societies still existing today, the art of tattoos are as alive as ever.
Art in the Modern World
As in other art forms, the tribal shoulder tattoos and their like spread to other areas from their point of origin. Modern societies in the urban areas quickly adopted the beauty of the tribal tattoos in everyday life. Thus, you will see many celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with a Samoan shoulder tattoo – actually, it’s more of a quarter-sleeve at present.
Certain changes were applied to the tribal tattoos although the basic shapes and lines remained largely unchanged. The changes pertained to the liberal use of the designs without paying attention to the symbolisms behind the tattoos. In short, the tribal tattoos were chosen largely for aesthetic purposes instead of symbolic significance.
Well, of course, you will find many individuals like The Rock who have tribal shoulder tattoos inked for their symbolic significance. We shall obviously appreciate it if other individuals do the same but there’s nothing wrong in getting a tattoo for art’s sake either.
Benefits of the Tattoos
The best benefit of shoulder tattoos with tribal themes is the ease with which these can be covered up with the appropriate choice of clothes. Your boss will then not have to go berserk that one of his best employees is violating company policy by showing tattoos at work.
The shoulders are also great places to have a tattoo because of the lesser pain involved. There is little by way of bones unprotected by a thick layer of skin in the shoulders. Add in the fact that shoulder tattoos can extend to the chest, the arm and the back and you have a truly amazing place for body art.
So, if you are thinking of getting tribal shoulder tattoos, do your research now. Choose the one that suits your personality as well as the appropriate symbolisms in your life.