Hawaiian Tribal Tattoos are considered a blend of today’s popular tribal designs blended with traditional Hawaiian symbolism. The two styles complemented each other and created this new style.
Some information about Hawaiian tribal tattoos and symbolism will help if you plan a custom design with your tattoo artist. Popular symbols of Hawaii are mostly Hawaiian Gods in the form of a tiki or an animal form. Animal forms include turtles, dolphins, flowers, geckos, sharks, owls, and hawks. With flowers, the only option is Hibiscus.
In keeping with the Polynesian style tattoos, the ancient Hawaiian tribal tattoos were geometric in design, using triangles, squares, and rectangles. The resurgence in recent decades of native pride has contributed to the evolution of the ancient Hawaiian tribal tattoos to include masks, tikis, flowers, and animals believed to represent certain gods in the tribal design. You can almost imagine your custom-designed tattoo as being designed with symbols you’ve chosen and then create it using those shapes or variations of those shapes.
Tiki God of War
In Hawaiian mythology, Kū or Kūkaʻilimoku is one of the four great gods. If you are looking for some symbolism in your Hawaiian tribal tattoo, Ku presents some fabulous opportunities. Kū was the (god) of war, politics, farming, and fishing. As the husband of the goddess Hina, together, they formed dualism. The word kū in the Hawaiian language means “to stand” while one meaning of Hina is “to fall.” These gods are highly respected in the Hawaiian culture.
Tiki God of Peace and Tranquility
The symbolism and meaning behind “Lono” are perfect for musicians, mothers, and flora lovers. In mythology, Lono made his grand entrance to earth from the heavens via a rainbow. He symbolizes fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and peace.
Tiki God of the Sea
Kanaloa is the god of the ocean, also known as the squid god. He is considered to poses great power; you can see the association. Design-wise, this description brings some images to mind. Although armband tats aren’t traditionally Hawaiian tribal tattoos, they have evolved. Imagine a small tribal Kanaloa wrapped around your arm with a tribal squid.
Tiki God of Light and Life
“Kane” is considered the creator of man and all things. Hawaiian mythology infers that he is the most important of the four great Tiki Gods. He is also associated with thunder breaking through the sky. Imagine that as a tattoo.
Hibiscus Flower – Although now the state flower of Hawaii, the hibiscus flower is not especially symbolic in Hawaiian tribal tattoos. Hibiscus flowers are grown around the globe where it is sunny. Because of the requirement of good sunny conditions to grow, it is symbolic of bringing sunshine. Women gravitate toward the hibiscus flower to wear as body art, mainly because of the variations in color, types and designs available. They are just simply beautiful. Be sure and pick colors that complement your usual wardrobe, skin and hair color; if you want that hibiscus to really pop.
Guardian Spirits – By tradition, the hawk, owl, lizard (gecko) and shark are considered representatives of guardian spirits. The gecko played an important part in Hawaiian history believed to be one of the animals that could communicate with the Gods. In addition, the gecko is considered a protector of house and homes. Geckos make great Hawaiian tribal tattoos but if you want realistic native Hawaiian tribal tattoos using a gecko(s), do some homework. There are only four native species and they’re disappearing fast; another great reason to wear one as body art.