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20 Mayan Tattoos and their Meanings


It is believed that the Mayan culture emerged approximately 2000 B.C., and already at that time, this civilization included tattoos among its members. The Mayans tattooed their skin for different purposes. Nowadays, there are many people who want to get a tattoo with a meaning of this tribe.Mayan tattoos offer a wide range of designs and representations. There are many reasons why the Mayas used to get tattoos, since Mayan tattoos offer a lot of meanings. They would carve warriors and gods into their skin in an attempt to protect themselves, they also used these designs to differentiate themselves from an enemy from another tribe with tattoos on the face that served to diversify ethnicities and identify themselves.





Most Popular Mayan Tattoos

If you feel connected to the Mayan culture, either by affinity or descent, you have a lot of options to choose from for your tattoo. Here are some of the most popular ones.

  • Architecture: The Mayan pyramids are magnificent constructions, of great impact. It is a good way to show your admiration for this civilization. You can make some of the most famous works such as those found in Tikal or Chichen Itza. This design can be complemented with a jaguar or a representation of one of the Mayan gods.

  • Calendar: in 2012, this calendar became very famous. In all the media there was talk of the end of the world, supposedly announced by the Mayans, apparently it was a misinterpretation of the information. The Mayan calendar is cyclical and it keeps different time accounts. It is much more complex than the one used by the West. The 2012 event referred to the end of a cycle. As a tattoo image it is an intricately detailed and therefore very striking piece. They are usually done in a circular shape. The whole tattoo is filled with the glyphs and decorative elements typical of the civilization. It is an ideal design to be done in black and white, as it allows to imitate the look of the carved stone.

  • Hunab Ku: he is a deity of the Mayan mythology and he was considered the greatest god of Yucatan. It could be linked to the creation, since it was said that he was the "only living and true god". There is a symbol, which was associated with this deity. It is a two-tone spiral, which has similarities with the Asian yin yang or the shape of the galaxies. Although it is possible that the origin of this symbol is an Aztec codex, it has been adopted by some enthusiasts of the Mayan culture.

  • Sacred animals: For the Maya, all animals had a function, to link the earth, the sky and the underworld. For this reason they appear in art, mythology and architecture. The one that stands out the most is the jaguar, which was associated with priests and warriors. It was believed that this feline was a representative of the underworld and darkness. The scarlet macaws were related to the fire of the sun at dawn. The bird called quetzal was synonymous with life and abundance. Snakes were symbols of wisdom and the earthly world. Also the god Kukulkan, or the feathered serpent, is a creature of great importance in the Mayan imaginary. To have a tattoo with these creatures you can turn to Mayan art, as a source of inspiration. They are also ideal in their realistic form, to accompany another motif typical of this culture.

  • Hieroglyphic writing: finally, you have the option of having one of the glyphs, seals or signatures of the Mayan writing system on your skin. They are simple and detailed pieces. You can also adapt them to different sizes and areas of the body. This is why it is a very versatile design. Mayan tattoos are perfect for lovers of this wonderful civilization.





    Symbolisms and meanings of Mayan Tattoos

    Mayan art symbols are some of the oldest and their culture is famous for its exceptional creativity. Even today, people feel connected to motifs apparent in Mayan culture, making Mayan tattoo designs a popular choice among tattoo enthusiasts. Here are just a few of the most popular symbols for the Mayans and their unique meanings: the Bat is known in their language as the "zots", and was considered the guardian of the Mayan underworld. As a tattoo design, it represents the light and dark qualities of humanity. The Mayan Calendar called 'tzolk'in', was 260 days long and is a unique creation of the Mayans, a symbol of their innovations as a prehistoric culture. The tattoos of these special calendars are a tribute to the Mayan culture.






    Mayan Tattoos for Men

    We find them on the shoulder, hand or chest, that is, very visible areas. Designs in black ink and large size predominate, as they require a great amount of detail. Men are the ones who usually get Mayan tattoos.






    Mayan Tattoos for Women

    It is difficult to find this type of tattoos among women, as they tend to opt for small designs and Mayan tattoos have to be medium or large because otherwise the details are not well captured. They can be found on the back.






    Small Mayan Tattoos

    As we have said, Mayan tattoos are not usually small in size due to the amount of detail that they require. In fact, we recommend that if you want to get a tattoo with a Mayan design, you should get a large or medium size tattoo, as this way you will ensure a good result once it is inked.




    Large Mayan Tattoos

    Perfect for highlighting all the details, they are usually placed on the back, shoulder, chest or leg.






    Mayan Tattoos on body parts

    During the article, we have been mentioning the main parts of the body where Mayan tattoos are placed, that is, the back, the shoulder, the hand, the leg or the chest.




    Mayan Tattoos on the Arm

    Both the forearm and the shoulder are ideal for large tattoos, so Mayan tattoos look very good. They can be applied in a specific area, or as a sleeve, that is, from the wrist to the elbow or from the shoulder to the elbow. In cases a little more extreme, we can even find them that occupy the whole arm.






    Mayan Tattoos on the Hand

    They are very spectacular and, without a doubt, very visible all year round. They can be of many different types and sometimes those who get Mayan tattoos on the hand, choose to extend them on their fingers as well.






    Mayan Chest Tattoos

    As a continuation of a tattoo on the arm or alone, a tattoo on the chest can be as large as we want it to be.