Tattooing has long been a part of the culture of the Philippines and many of the modern designs used in Filipino tattoos stem from the original artwork used by tribes in days gone by. In fact, it is widely believed that the Philippines islanders were actually one of the first tribes to use the art of tattooing and the people of this region often inked their entire bodies with a combination of religious signs and tribal symbols as a mark of individual identity, status and rank. Both male and female tribe members would be marked in ink to represent their spiritual beliefs as well as identifying them as belonging to a specific clan.
As body art designs today, Filipino tattoos are rich in historical significance and profound symbolism. Among the most widely requested images of this kind today, are those that symbolize beliefs and qualities such as beauty, maturity, bravery and knowledge however the symbols used for certain plants and animals may look familiar. This is because this particular form of tribal body art has a similarity to those used in Celtic-style tattoos and like the Celts the Philippines tribes considered animals, particularly water animals as being as important as humans. Many popular Filipino tribal designs feature beautiful illustrations of sea horses, dolphins, turtles, starfish and shells each of which has is its own individual symbolism to represent particular characteristics and personality traits. There are also some tribal dragon designs in this style, depicted in jet black ink that make visually stunning body art designs. However, these designs on the whole – as is the case with most tribal patterns used in body art designs – do tend to be more masculine in appearance so may not necessarily suit female tattoo fans.
If you are a woman of Philippine descent who wants a body art design to reflect your cultural roots and ancestral heritage then there are other more feminine options for Filipino tattoos that may appeal to you. Floral designs are always popular with the girls and the Philippines are home to some of the most beautiful, exotic flowers on the earth. The national flower is the Sampaguita which is a gorgeous white flower that is similar to the better known Jasmine plant, which was adopted by the country’s government in 1934. The national flag of this nation also makes a colourful tattoo and is often used in conjunction with their national flower for body art designs. It is predominantly red, blue and white that is also adorned with a gold emblem. This has equal bands of royal blue and scarlet red, combined with a white equilateral triangle at the hoist while a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays is at the center of the triangle. Christianity is also very popular in the Philippines so many Filipino tattoos will incorporate images that follow this religious theme. These include crosses, the Madonna, Christ and even angels although these are more often depicted in the style of tribal artwork rather than the more traditional versions. Placement areas for these are generally the arm, stomach or back and these tend to be larger more elaborate designs that require a more spacious area of skin to do them justice.