Ancient Aztec Tattoos
The Aztecs were a tribe that lived from the 13th to the 16th century in and around the area that is now called Mexico. Religion and the many gods were very important in the Aztec culture, a lot of the daily life of the Aztecs was meant to honor and please the gods.
Tattooing played an important role in the Aztec culture though, even children were tattooed.
The ancient Aztec tattoo designs were rather rudimentary, and were not only designed to decorate the body, but for a variety of reasons:
- Aztec tribal tattoos were done during rituals and always in honor of a specific god.
- Tattoo designs were used to differentiate between the different tribes.
- Aztec tattoo designs were used to mark a person’s status, to show a warrior's rank and accomplishments.
There are several tattoo designs that we commonly see with regard to Aztec and Mexican tattoos:
- Many Aztec tattoo designs involve the sun in one way or another. Sun tattoos were in honor of Huitzilopochtili, the Aztec sun god. The sun was very important to the Aztec people, it was the guardian of the heavens. That's why today, an Aztec sun tattoo symbolizes belief in an afterlife.
- Quetzalcoatl – the feathered serpent god of ancient Mexico – has also been adapted to Mexican tattooing. Quetzalcoatl, the god of weather, creativity and fertility, was the most powerful of all Aztec gods.
- Eagle: Aztec warriors drew strength from the eagle.
- Other Aztec tattoos that are popular today are cross tattoos and sun & moon tattoos.
Nowadays people are interested in Aztec tribal tattoos because of their symbolic meaning, to honor their heritage or because they feel a connection with the ancient and powerful culture of the Aztecs.
Examples of Mexican mafia tattoos include:
- An eagle with a snake in its mouth, standing on the initials EME.
- A black hand.
- MM: Mafia Mexicana.
Other Mexican Tattoo Designs
Nowadays, there’s much more to Mexican tattoos than a prison or gang related design. Mexican style tattoos are among the most beautiful and original new tattoos designs today.
- Mexican skull tattoos: inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead, a holiday in which the Mexican people remember those who have died.
- Mexican pride tattoos: a lot of Mexicans work in the United States, away from their origins. To honor their heritage and show their Mexican pride, some adorn themselves with for example a Mexican flag tattoo.