Abstract tattoo patterns are often based on images from Celtic or Polynesian art, but they can also reflect a myriad of other interests and personal histories.
Representational tattoos are still common, but abstract patterns appear in modern tattoos around the world, such as this tattoo inspired by an Eastern talisman.
Celtic knots are endlessly versatile. Created with intricately twined lines, these abstract tattoo patterns work well anywhere on the body. They make lovely backgrounds for other images, too. Celtic patterns also include:
- Ancient crosses
Tribal styles emerged from Polynesian and other ancient arts, but modern "tribal" just refers to bold, black or solid-colored lines that form graceful arcs - often in a mirror-image pattern.
Samoan Tribal Tattoo
Many authentic tribal tattoo patterns resemble modern "tribal" style tattoos. The more painful traditional process had a traditional as well as personal meaning. This Samoan tattoo was done in a traditional style. The zig-zag line near the top and bottom of this pattern represents Fa'alaupaoga which means "like the leaves of a Pandanus tree."
The Polynesian Islands are filled with a long tattoo history. Although the locals no longer practice tattooing as a rite of passage, some patterns are still in use, and you can still see the intricate work that once adorned the native people.
Native American Tattoos
A great deal of inspiration for tattoos is based on tattoo patterns by:
- Tribes people in Borneo
- Early twentieth-century Native American tattoos
- Body art from Mozambique
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, scarabs and ankhs carry thousands of years of meaning.
- The scarab beetle signifies creation
- The ankh, or Coptic cross, is a symbol of eternal life
- The Udjat (a stylized eye) confers protection and healing
Unusual Tattoo Patterns
Sources for unusual tattoo patterns are limitless. Consider tiny shapes, in the style of a charm bracelet, for a unique pattern that represents your personal interests and passions.