The world of tattooing has changed considerably in the past few decades however, while some trends have come and gone over the years there are certain types of body art that remain popular. Cultural themed designs have soared in popularity over the past few years and tribal artwork in particular remains a firm favourite around the globe however if you are interested in African culture or tribes in particular you may be interested in finding out more about a Zulu tattoo. The Zulus are native to South Africa where they have lived for centuries and the language was originally spoken orally only and not recorded in any form. However, with the arrival of Christian missionaries from Europe in the 19th Century this changed and the language was then recorded using the Latin alphabet. This is a predominantly phonetic language with the vowels are lengthened on the penultimate syllable and the consonants varying in sound or tone depending on whether they are marked with a diaeresis.
One of the most distinctive features of Zulu is the use of click consonants and while this feature is shared with several other languages of Southern Africa, it is almost entirely confined to this region. There are three articulations of clicks in Zulu, the first is comparable to a sucking of teeth, the second like a bottle top going ‘pop’ and the third similar to the click one may do to walk a horse. However, this is all irrelevant when the language is written down although it is worth noting that the pronunciation looks very different to the written word so this may resemble nonsense if you opt to use too much of this text for a Zulu tattoo. Popular quotes associated with this language were used in the animated film the Lion King so these are often requested for body art of this kind accompanied by a related animal or similar themed image. Commonly requested phrases for inking of this nature include the likes of Siyonqoba which translates as ‘We will conquer,’ Busa leli zwe bo (Rule this land) and Busa ngothando bo (Rule with love).
One of the most distinctive and visually stunning images I have seen used for a Zulu tattoo has to be that of the Zulu warrior depicted in all his glory. These come in intricately detailed and multi-coloured designs complete with shield and spear and look fantastic as a large tattoo located somewhere like the back or rib cage. There are however also a good many smaller ones around too that look equally cool. Some of these are illustrated in plain black ink, often in the style of tribal artwork and also make a stunning visual impact even on a smaller body part. In addition there are some very realistic Zulu face designs that work well on areas such as the upper arm or leg however make sure you find a skilled tattooist with the artistic talent to do this justice or it wont work. Wild animals that are native to South Africa such as the lion, tiger, zebra or rhino may also be used in conjunction with these images for a more elaborate design.