Explore the Cultural Significance of Vietnamese Tribal Tattoo

Vietnamese tribal tattoos are a blend of unique and intricate symbolic patterns, shapes, and designs that showcase the rich heritage of Vietnam’s sacred tattoo culture within the framework of modern artistry.

Vietnamese Tribal Tattoo: A Classic Blend of Heritage and Innovation

Each tribal tattoo design reflects a valuable story along with modern interpretations. Let’s dive into this guide where you will be able to discover the Vietnamese ancient tribal tattoo art form, its captivating designs, and different motifs that have made Vietnam’s tattooing culture timeless.

Vietnamese Tribal Tattoo

Looking at the history of Vietnamese tribal tattoos, they are highly inspired by the country’s rich cultural heritage and spiritual beliefs. Mythological factor also plays a sufficient role in shaping and enhancing the captivating beauty and hidden meaning behind these tattoo designs. The major reason for having these tattoos in the past was to protect and showcase social status, and identity. However, these designs gained so much popularity in the coming years that even though their sole purpose vanishes, their beauty and charm are still embraced by people with utter admiration.  

Symbolic significance of Vietnamese Tribal Tattoos

Animals, mythological figures, and spiritual figures are often part of Vietnamese tribal tattoos, symbolizing a person’s connections to nature, evolutionary roots, and spiritual beliefs. As Vietnamese tattoos were used as protection that’s why they are also considered talismans for bringing good fortune to people’s lives.

Symbolic significance of Vietnamese Tribal Tattoos

Different dynasties and colonizers’ cultures also influenced Vietnamese tribal tattoos to some extent, by adding modern touch-ups but the foundation remains unchanged. People take pride in inking Vietnamese tribal tattoos on their skins and admire the traditional motifs and abstract influence of this artistry.

Symbolism and Meaning of Vietnamese Tribal Tattoo Designs 

Vietnamese tribal tattoo designs have different symbolism and motifs that bring out admirable hidden features. From powerful symbolism like dragons, and tigers, to wisdom-based motifs like flowers or nature. Let’s get to know these symbolism and their meaning in detail;


Featuring nature in tribal tattoos is a great way to incorporate the element of harmony between humans and nature. In general terms, nature symbolizes adaptability, flow of time, and healing. Here are the major natural elements that have been used in Vietnamese tribal tattoos for many years.

  • Moon: The moon as a tattoo mark is taken as a symbol of fertility, cyclic changes, strong intuitions, tranquility, and balance. It also connects a person to divine forces and power and brings protection, guidance, and enlightenment alongside.  
  • Sun: In contrast with the moon, the sun symbolizes life, positivity, rebirth, happiness, joy, and hope.
  • Bamboo: Its symbolic meaning includes growth, steadfastness, adaptability, and the ability to endure hardships. 
  • Lotus: Lotus as a floral symbolic element symbolizes purity, innocence, and personal growth. 

Geometrical Shapes 

Geometrical shapes work greatly from the aesthetic side and enhance the visual beauty of the tattoos; here are the major geometrical shapes that are used in tribal tattoos and also with natural elements.

Geometrical Shapes

  • Circle: To reflect the completeness, infiniteness, and eternity, the circle shape is particularly famous and widely tattooed. It is used in mandala flowers, around lotus flowers, and natural elements like the moon and sun are also in circle shapes. 
  • Spiral: Spiral geometrical shapes generally symbolize evolution and diversity. With other elements like dragon creatures, a spiral shape is used to glorify the visual image and also the meaning behind it. 
  • Arrows: Arrows symbolize focus toward life goals. It acts as a reminder to keep moving straight toward the goal with full concentration and ignore any distraction  
  • Mandala: Mandala is the circular form of spirituality and is connected with meditation and spiritual powers. This element represents a person’s strong belief in divinity and hidden supportive and protective powers. 
  • Crosses: Crosses are the embodiment of four basic elements of existence that are water, fire, earth, and air. It reflects the understanding and acceptance of our roots and that we are a part of nature and not a separate entity from it. 


Many animals like turtles, dragons, fish, and phoenixes are used as elements in tribal tattoos to intricate the hidden meaning behind the design. For instance:

  1. Dragon: The dragon is the sacred and widely used creature in tribal tattoos to symbolize power and resistance. It also acts as a protective talisman from evil spirits. Dragons are often designed with thunder or lightning strikes to double their symbolic meanings and also make them unique designs. To further explore the meaning behind Dragon Tattoo and its placement check out our Vietnamese Inspired Dragon Tattoo blog. 
  2. Fish: Among fish, koi fish tattoos are taken with admiration. It symbolizes steadfastness and transformation to a better self. 
  3. Snake: Snake in Spiral shape symbolizes wisdom and it is taken as a guardian and protective element. 


Vietnamese tribal tattoos are a captivating design that walks the country’s cultural and traditional heritage and brings the artistic evolution for each era. 

Today these designs are very popular among people who want dramatic visual and symbolic meaning tattoos. Whether you go for a full-length tribal tattoo design on an arm having different elements like dragons, phonic, multiple geometrical shapes, and other natural elements, the outcome will be worth inking.

Thus, whenever you visit Hội An in search of meaningful and personalized artistry tattoo pieces, our skilled artists are always at your service. Visit us to discuss your imagination and allow us to create what you have aspired to.