Samoans are actually the ones who offered us the word Tattoo it was once pronounced as tatau. Polynesian people were some of the first to be recorded and written about with their tribal tattoo designs. Males being darkly tattooed upon their chest and thighs, where the women of the tribes would be tattooed on their arms and neck.
The splendor of the tribal tattoo was too much for a few of the sailors who had their bodies adorned with the ink and brought that style back to the western world.
There is great debate on where they truly hailed from as many cultures have their own version of tribal tattooing.
From Africa who imparted their nature and wildlife into the dark tattoos. African tattoos specifically also were to let others know a specific individuals place in a tribe as well. As warriors would grow and learn they would be marked to let others know that they were not an elder yet, where elders would have beautiful intricate and very detailed tattoos not only for decoration but intimidation to others as well.
To Egypt and their worship of the sun god. Where royals were adorned with beautiful designs, but this seemed to be a female exclusive practice.The act of giving a tattoo in ancient times differs greatly from the practice today which has become much more refined. Usually a small wooden dowel would be used with a sharpened attachment, some think wood at first then bronze needles, and even later that several needles would be tethered together to achieve an even darker or more delicate design.
The pattern would be etched onto the skin and then the ink mixture would be rubbed onto the skin until it collected into the etched area. Some say that the black of tribal tattoos was made by mixing soot and breast milk together against the skin. As mentioned above for the Egyptians it was said to be a female practice. Some scholars believe that it was used to safe guard a pregnancy and birth.
Most of the evidence that was found of mummies was intricate bead and diamond designs on the stomach, and thighs so when a woman would be swollen with child the diamond shapes would expand with the mother.
Making a sort of net around her stomach to safe guard the growing child and the patterns on the thighs was devoted to a Goddess who watched over child baring women during their labor. One of the most compelling gestures in all of tribal tattoo history is that a resounding number of people from all over the world were tattooed in someway shape or form.
Meaning that they had not only intricate designs of their faith or religion but mainly and most often it was of wild life, animals and beasts of myth. Perhaps it was because they thought of these animals as spiritually impressive or that they somehow associated their personalities with the specific beasts.