Reviewed & updated: September 11, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
Looking for a tattoo rooted in the tribal tradition of Africa? These 10 mind-blowing African tribal tattoo sleeve ideas are sure to inspire you!
Among people looking for deeply meaningful tattoos that lend themselves to a rustic appeal, African tribal tattoos are hugely popular.
We all know that the African continent is home to some of the oldest civilisations in history, but did you know that it is also the birthplace of body art?
In ancient Africa, tattoos were used as societal identifiers of a person’s tribe and heritage. They were modes of self-expression as well as to convey social status.
Beyond that, African tattoos were used for several cultural practices and are a common sight on African gods and goddesses.
The practise of tattooing in the tribal African culture continues to this day and inspires a whole host of tribal tattoos across the world.
If you are looking for an African sleeve tattoo tribal, then we got you covered with this list of the 10 best African tribal tattoo designs that are sure to turn heads.
Tribal Patterns Tattoo
African tribal people are often seen with several permanent tribal designs and patterns inked on their skin. These patterns vary among tribes and have deep cultural connotations.
The tribal men often don tattoos on significant events such as the coming of age of young men or the coronation of a new leader.
The emblems on this tribal tattoo are inspired by the Bodi tribe and symbolise the transition to adulthood.
These patterns also stand for a sense of kinship with a larger group or family. Such African tribal tattoo designs are perfect for those who associate with this sense of self and society.
African Tribes Marks
Not just men but even the women of the many tribes of Africa wear tattoos on their bodies to mark specific events or to self-express.
These tattoo designs as symbols of fertility, religion, worship, societal hierarchy, faith and blessings.
The tattoo designs on their skin are also symbols of this tradition of courage and strength.
For a woman (and a man, of course), this amazing full sleeve tribal tattoo design could be perfect to embrace your inner goddess and let your spirit run free!
Tribal Mask Tattoo
For centuries throughout Africa, people embraced cultural tattoo designs as a means of self-identification, expression, spiritual protection, and ritual practice.
The same can be said about another traditional African artefact – masks.
Masks play an important role in rituals and ceremonies and are believed to be linked to a good harvest and protection in times of war. Some masks also represent ancestral spirits.
You can wear this African tribal tattoo half sleeve as a remembrance of a dear deceased or as a symbol of African culture, tradition, and values.
These African tribal tattoo designs in black ink are uniquely traditional and stylish at the same time! Although this one is made for the sleeves, we think this would work well on the shoulder too!
African Nature Tattoo
Speaking of African culture, it is incomplete without African wildlife and abundant natural beauty.
This amazing full sleeve tribal tattoo design that comes as a pair is one of the most intricate tribal designs among African tattoos.
It encompasses an array of wild animals like the elephant, the zebra, the gorilla and most prominently, the pride of Africa, the lion.
They are shown with a tribal African woman to show the coexistence between tribes and wildlife.
Such tribal arm tattoos are perfect to outline your love for Africa and for the wild. It is a sign of one’s connection with nature and can be a hugely important statement in today’s day and age!
Tribal Wild Tattoo
Another tribal tattoo design inspired by the wealth of wild fauna in the African continent, this African tribal tattoo full sleeve is not just attractive but can be associated with many meanings.
An African tattoo replete emblems of African culture and an intricate design in black ink, this tribal tattoo is a body art of beauty.
It could be a sign of your admiration for the tribal synergy with nature and a symbol of your devotion to protecting the environment.
It could also be a symbol of your spiritual connection to the culture.
No matter the meanings you want it to take on, this traditional tribal tattoo design is a perfect choice if you are into cultural tattoos that make for a great style statement.
African Lion Tattoo
The king of the jungle, the fierce lion is one of the many big cats that roam the African wild and are one of the most iconic emblems of Africa.
As an animal, the lion is a force to reckon with. As a tattoo symbol, it stands for power, strength, ambition, and the drive to stand out.
This amazing African tattoo design of a lion’s face is a thing of beauty that is perfect for you if you are looking for African tribal tattoos that signify the wild wealth of the continent.
While this tattoo design is made for a sleeve, it could work well on the chest too! You could also consider featuring other animals like the elephant or the giraffe.
African Woman Tattoo
Tribal societies are much more gender-egalitarian than the city civilisations and women are just as powerful as men.
This is perhaps why African women feature in many powerful tattoos of tribal designs.
This half sleeve African tribal tattoo is one of the classic tribal tattoos that incorporates an African woman’s face along with other motifs typical of the continent.
It stands for strength, freedom, equality, and womanhood. If these values resonate with you, then what are you waiting for!
Colour Tribal Tattoo
If you thought, tribal tattoos only come in black ink or as a grey tattoo, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
Africa’s tribes are all about colour. They sometimes survive in the harshest of conditions and they embrace colour as a way to commemorate their ancestral heritage and the beauty of their land.
It is a way to stay connected to the natural beauty around them.
This attractive Africa tattoo uses a splash of colour ink to enhance its tribal designs and motifs.
If you are one who prioritises style over meanings, then we have hit the jackpot for you!
African Warrior Tattoos
Each African tribe has a history of engaging in warfare with others in a quest for acquiring or protecting land and their country.
This is why the African warrior has become a cultural symbol to pay homage to the ancient practices and wisdom of the tribal people.
This African tribal tattoo 3/4 sleeve is an amazing African tattoo design that is sure to take your body art game to the next level.
Wear it as a sleeve tattoo or on any other part of your body, it will look amazing!
Eclectic Tribal Tattoo
Tribal designs can be done in different styles but few of them top this extra cool, psychedelic-inspired style.
This African tattoo is a cool and contemporary take on many traditional African motifs such as masks, plants, etc.
A truly unique tattoo design that is a symbol of African life and culture. Wearing this on your body is sure to pique people’s curiosity!
The oeuvre of African tattoos come with a variety of meanings.
People go for an African tribal tattoo design for various reasons including a personal connection to an African country, admiration for indigenous life, values and beliefs, and love for an exotic traditional tattoo that looks stunning no matter what the occasion.
African tattoos are strong emblems of the inner self, spiritual protection, humanity, power and life.
While getting a tribal tattoo can be exciting, we must remember that tribal tattoos have deep cultural significance and meanings.
Therefore, it is important that thorough research is done into each tattoo design before they are inked onto the body. This is to avoid cultural misappropriation.
If you liked our recommendations for African tribal tattoos, then try out these tattoo ideas too:
- Mexican tattoos on the neck
- Native American tattoos on the shoulder
- African animals shoulder tattoos
- African continent shoulder tattoos
- Polynesian tribal tattoo on the chest
Still looking for inspiration, then checkout this blog post about tribal sleeve tattoo ideas.
Feature image from Pinterest
What is the meaning of an African tribal sleeve tattoo?
An African tribal sleeve tattoo is a type of body art that is inspired by traditional African cultures and aesthetics. These tattoos generally feature symbols, designs, and patterns that are culturally significant to an African tribe or community. They may include abstract shapes, geometric patterns, human figures, animal motifs, and other meaningful symbols. A tribal sleeve tattoo can represent a person’s heritage, status, or tribal identity. It could also be used to convey spiritual beliefs and cultural values. African tribal sleeve tattoos are often large, colorful, and intricate designs that can take several hours or days to complete. They typically cover the entire arm from shoulder to wrist and are meant to make a statement about the wearer’s identity and beliefs. African tribal sleeve tattoos are a powerful way to express yourself, honor your heritage, and preserve your culture.
What are the designs of an African tribal sleeve tattoo?
African tribal sleeve tattoos typically feature a variety of abstract and symbolic designs. These designs can include geometric patterns, animal motifs, symbols of power and status, human figures, and more. Each design is unique to the tribe or community that created it, which means each tattoo has its own special meaning. Common designs may include zigzag lines, circles, spirals, or arrows. Animal motifs are also popular and often represent strength, intelligence, or the spirit of a particular animal. Other symbols may include masks, stars, suns, moons, and more. African tribal sleeve tattoos can be large and intricate designs that require several hours to complete. They often cover the entire arm from shoulder to wrist, creating a bold and beautiful statement.
How much does an African tribal sleeve tattoo cost?
The cost of an African tribal sleeve tattoo will vary depending on the size, complexity, and artist you choose. Generally speaking, a large and detailed tribal sleeve tattoo can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Prices may be lower or higher based on factors such as where you get the tattoo done, the experience level of your artist, and the amount of time and detail that is required for the design. It is important to do your research and find an experienced artist who specializes in African tribal sleeve tattoos before getting one done. Doing so will ensure you get a quality tattoo that you’ll be proud of for years to come.