Most people don’t know the difference between Maori, Islander, Polynesian, and Samoan tattoos designs. Other people putting together lists like this usually have no idea what they are talking about. While it’s true that these cultures heavily influenced each other, their designs are still considered unique and can be differentiated from each other, most of the time.
Maori designs are the most unique, their swirling solid color patterns are easy to separate from the other three, but Polynesian, Islander and Samoan tattoos look extraordinary similar and sometimes are even one in the same. Maori designs were brought to New Zeland from Polynesia so technically they are all of Polynesian origin.
What’s even more confusing, is that most tattoo artists get creative and blend the different styles together leaving traditional tribal designs few and far between.
Let’s take a look at some of the most spectacular and unique examples of tribal tattoos.
This geometric Polynesian tribal design
High on the arm, this design has a wide mix of thin and bold lines that combine for a unique and interesting design.
This sectional piece
About 20 different patterns all fit together to form an amazing overall composition. This sleeve stops just short of the wrist which is a common trend.
This red and black Maori tribal tattoo
Wow this tattoo is genius. Lots of style and a little bit of color — which is rare in tribal designs. The base is a Maori styled shape with faded whispy accents.
This Maori Islander Hybrid tattoo
A little spacing goes a long way.
These bold outlines
Tribal designs incorporating bold outlines are the latest trend when it comes to tribal tattoos. Notice the little fish.
This single shoulder pad
This bad ass full sleeve tribal tattoo
Can’t say enough good things about this design. This islander tattoo displays their strong attachment to the ocean with multiple wave patterns.
This symmetric circle design
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This Maori silhouette hybrid
Another nice hybrid design. He’s got a beautiful Maori pattern filled in with some Islander/Polynesian designs. Very tasteful and unique.
This Rugby player’s tats
If you’re wondering why so many Rugby players have tribal tattoos, areas that play a lot of rugby — Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, — are where most of the different types of tribal tattoos originated.