Traditional Indian Tattoo Flash

Traditional tattoo flash is an amazing way to represent Indian culture. It is usually a beautiful artwork that compliments most skin tones and represents your spiritual side – a popular art form among India’s nomadic tribes.

On his travels, Shah discovered that many communities still practice ancient art forms. For instance, Baiga tribe members tattoo their women upon reaching puberty.

Gypsy Woman

Tattooing has long been an accepted part of life for India’s tribal communities, and Shah’s project has revealed how many of their motifs and patterns can be seen across multiple states.

For example, when a Santhal woman receives her first tattoo, she must sit on a bamboo mat for several hours while being held down by female family members. At this time, a fowl sacrificed nearby is meant to appease any evil spirits, which might increase pain levels during this process.

Women from Orissa’s Kutia Kondh tribe wear exquisite geometric facial Tattoos as identifying marks to recognize each other when entering the spirit world. These intricate and detailed Kolam-style Tattoos were created using similar methods but with much more excellent care and skill than regular Kolam designs.


Mer women often favor tattoo designs incorporating secular and religious subjects of devotion, such as holy men or the feet of Rama or Lakshmi. Tattoo designs based on nature, such as lion, tiger, and peacock designs, also seem popular.

An eagle tattoo signifies strength and leadership. This symbol also shows a broad outlook and willingness to tackle problems head-on.

Shah’s research for his project demonstrated how tattooing was an integral component of tribal culture, signaling affiliation, maturity, and personhood. However, it can often take much work to ascertain exactly what meaning an individual symbol holds. For instance, this woman had a tortoise tattoo, which wasn’t meaningful to her tribe, but she wore it nonetheless because she liked its design.


Mythical creatures of legend, dragons represent power, strength, and bravery. Knights must overcome them to achieve ultimate glory. Due to their long bodies, dragons work great as foes on shoulders – they can easily fit the curvier shapes.

Wolves are another common symbol of strength and courage, often seen as guides or leaders who can assist us with carving our path through life. Like dragons, butterflies symbolize rebirth by transforming from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly.

Shamil Shah has dedicated himself to discovering tattooing traditions across India through his project, India Ink Archive, digitally cataloging indigenous Tattoos from various states and tribes.


Indian tribal markings have long been used as a form of permanent jewelry or to identify individuals within their community, yet today, this tradition seems to have faded significantly.

Shamil Shah became fascinated with India’s vibrant tribal culture and decided to document it through his project, India Ink Archive. This journey took him across India as he interviewed members from different tribes adorned with Godna markings on their bodies.

A Chang woman explained to him that her forehead tattoo was intended to scare away any tigers who might try to attack her. At the same time, this motif could also be found etched onto women from another tribe in Arunachal Pradesh as protection. Additionally, Baiga men adorned themselves with chandramas on their arms and bichhu (scorpion) designs on their forearms as a mark of protection.


Tattoos were intended to mark community membership status or an initiation ceremony and last forever. Their designs varied depending on your state or region of origin; each tattooing tradition had its own customs and methods for applying pigments and dyes – the Narikuravars from Tamil Nadu used pachai kuthal, ink made from soot and herbs, which left behind a green tint after healing had taken place.

Unfortunately, these traditions are disappearing rapidly due to urbanization, socio-economic transformation, and a change in mindset. However, several tattoo artists, including Mangala Bai from the Baiga tribe and Mo from Nagaland, have taken steps to record these tribal designs in order to preserve them for future generations. Their artwork features flowing lines with symmetry rooted at their centers – drawn freehand without stencils!