Aztec Tattoos

There were many ancient cultures that showed art through tattoos. The Aztec group was one of the most advanced when it come to body art, they were known for their creative art skills and produced some brilliant Aztec tattoo designs as a result. The Aztec culture was based in tradition, including the arts and education, as well as various ceremonial and religious practices. They held many different designs and symbols as sacred, as many cultures have held their art. Art was extremely important to the Aztecs. Aztec style of art was quite distinct from its neighbors, and this can clearly be seen in the designs that are used for the tattoos, Aztec Tattoos grew from both the religious and cultural aspects of their society.

Aztec society was extremely structured and had an exacting social and spiritual code which dominated their daily lives. Tattoos played a large role in the ancient Aztec culture as well. Tattoos were often used in rituals, such as those dedicated to the gods Uitzilopochtle , Cuauhtli or Quahtli. These tattoos were drawn onto the bodies of children (put their tattoos in specific locations on their bodies, each location has a meaning and was considered to be important) in order to show the children’s devotion to this god. Every Aztec tattoo was done in a specific symbolic pattern, depending on the god being honored.


Mayan Tattoos

Both men and women tattooed their bodies with black copal [tree resin] which was also used for incense

The Mayans tattooed themselves using needle fixed on a stick and driven into the skin by slightly tapping. The tattoos which were common among the Mayans were for tribal identification and beauty especially after marriage. Some of the tattoos were as deep as possible that you can define them as scars like those on lady Xook’s face on the stone carving

In the Mayan civilization, young men would normally paint themselves with black paint before they married, then they would later, after marriage engage in a traditional tattooing ritual. This was done by use of one or more needles bound on a short stick and tapped into the skin by slowly tapping the stick and driving the needle into the skin. Mayan tattoos are still common among many teenagers but they are simply drawn on the skin using permanent ink.

The Mayas had a written language and numerical system. Maya glyphs (pictoral words) were placed beside each other to create a sentence. The Maya glyphs are still being translated, and it is believed that some of the meanings that we currently apply to certain glyphs may be wrong. Mayan glyph tattoos generally refer to things such as the four elements of earth, air, fire and water or spirits, gods and animals. The written language of the Mayans changed from one area to another, so although two symbols may look slightly different in different parts of the Mayan empire, the meaning remains the same.

Mayan designs often included animals such as eagles, jaguars and snakes. Each of these animals is a totem animal, meaning that it has spiritual meaning to human beings. Eagles are a symbol of power, foresight, flight and ferocity. Jaguars are a symbol of strength, stealth, agility and great hunting skills. Snakes and serpents were associated with the sky and spirituality and were often depicted with wings in Mayan art. The distinctly Mayan art style looks great in tattoo designs either as a simple, outlined glyph or a color tattoo with shading.

The Mayans were a deeply spiritual race. They created hundreds of symbols to express spiritual ideas and beliefs, such as the balance of life and the magic of the gods. Today we speak of day and night simply as times of the day in which our world is either light or dark. During Mayan times, the word “night” also meant darkness, danger and blindness. “Sun” also meant awareness, warmth and a life giving force. So while one word has a small meaning for us modern human beings, in ancient Maya, each word held a wealth of importance and meaning.