Armband tattoos are some of the most popular arm tattoo choices as of late. The design has been popular for a long while, especially among the Native American tribes, but the design shares a rich cultural origin. There are various designs, ranging from those easier to make, to highly complex patterns that take time to illustrate and heal.
Armband tattoos are popular both among the temporary tattoos, commonly found at the street tattoo artists on the beach or street of your vacation destination to permanent tattoo inked in professional tattoo studios.
In this article, we’ll focus mainly on permanent tattoo designs. Additionally, we’ll reveal the origin and meaning of the armband tattoos and provide a brief look at the cultures and their meanings that they originate from.
Types Of Armband Tattoo
As mentioned earlier, the armband tattoo is quite popular, and a such it had to originate from different cultures that mark one certain meaning or another. Below, we’ll look at a couple of the armband tattoo types.
If you don’t know what kind of armband tattoo you want, checking out the most popular types of the armband tattoo is one of the ways to go. Here, you can check out the most popular options.
Solid Black Armband
A solid black armband is among the most popular armband tattoo, and it’s often tattooed among people who want to manifest different meanings on their skin.
One of the most popular reasons behind the solid black armband tattoo is associated with death. People who ink solid black armbands want to make a memory of a loved one that they lost. The loss of a loved one is marked through these tattoos through either a solid, thick black armband followed by a few thinner bands.
Although it can easily catch your attention, it’s quite simple and easy to make. More importantly, it simply manifests love and respect for the loved one that was lost. The second meaning associated with death is that the solid black armband symbolizes grieving and mourning, as well as an important mark of the, loved one in the memory of the person who tattooed the symbol.
Still, this tattoo isn’t only associated with death, there are different meanings often associated with power, strength, and courage. A lot of people make a solid black armband around their bicep to manifest power and courage because a lot of our strength is located in the bicep muscle. Inking it with a solid black tattoo, accents that strength and symbolically amplifies it.
Although it’s not directly associated with tribal tattoos, this type of tattoos has also been used by different tribes for many centuries. This particular design also inspired the numerous tribal designs, as well as the other ones.
Tribal armbands have been around for thousands of years and numerous cultures. Tattooing and inking have been in the tradition of tribal civilizations for many centuries, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the armband tattoos are quite popular among them.
Usually, ancient tribes used armband tattoos to mark belonging to a certain tribe. It was sort of an ancient passport which marked their origin and belonging, adding to the ethnic identity of the person who wore it.
As there are different tribes around the world, different armband designs existed to mark the belonging to every tribe.
Tribal armbands are there also to show the abstract nature and abstract description that identifies each member of the tribe. They used ink and tattoos to paint their surroundings, resonate, and identify with them. That’s why the cultures continued using the armband tattoos for centuries. These tattoos also mark important events and even battles in life show that life never ends but just continues in another form.
Tribal armbands can also symbolize power, wisdom, and life in particular.
Hawaiian armband can be said to be quite similar to the tribal armbands, but it serves to show and detail the incredibly rich Hawaiian culture. Additionally, this type of armband tattoos is important because it shows that one civilization can last and adapt to changes while maintaining its culture despite industrialization and the human influence from different parts of the world.
Popular choices of the Hawaiian armbands are different geometrical patterns, but also the seashells and sea animals like dolphins, as well as other important symbols of the ocean like waves, and others. Lastly, many use the flora and fauna from the Hawaiian island, including the volcanoes.
Despite not being popular as the other ones, Celtic armband tattoos look gorgeous and should be seen more often. They symbolize love and mostly serve as the love knot between different people. That’s why it’s a popular tattoo choice for more people who want to show continuity or use ink on their bodies to worship their love.
Celtic tattoo patterns often look like interconnecting paths that continue through the entire armband and look abstract and mesmerizing. Those symbols and intervening help show the power of growth, continuity, and infinity, manifesting how life continues after someone has passed.
Given that the Celtic armband tattoo designs also manifest infinity, they are also good for symbolizing time, and how eternal and uninterrupted it is. Finally, it gives the meaning of life that goes on, in its purest form.
Read More: 60+ Amazing Infinity Tattoo Ideas 2023 (And Celebrities)
Armband Tattoos And Their Meanings
We highlighted many meanings through the original types of armband tattoos. However, that doesn’t show its purest meaning. In this section, we’ll talk about the truest meaning of the armband tattoos, and touch on some more cultures that practiced this art.
Originally, the armband tattoo, which looks quite infinite is there to manifest the life and continuation of it. Perhaps, a lot of people will make armband tattoos that look cool, just because they’re… well cool. Additionally, some more people will design them to fulfill some other tattoo like a bicep tattoo or even a sleeve tattoo that is among the most popular options.
However, those who are looking for the meaning of armband tattoo may not find it within the types of armband tattoo designs that we listed above. Perhaps, they want to use their symbols, a verse, a symbol from nature, or a hobby that they enjoy practicing. With that in mind, here are some additional meanings that are associated with armband tattoos.
Christian Armband Tattoos
Christian armband tattoos are quite popular among people who devotedly respect the said religion. They usually tattoo armband lines combined with a cross or multiple crosses, which symbolizes the love for the religion.
Additionally, some people prefer tattooing popular verses from the Bible, which is relatively easy to make an armband out of.
Lastly, some people tattoo the wreath or thorned armband which symbolizes redemption, sacrifice, and love.
Native American Armband Tattoos
There are many types of tribal armband tattoos, but among all of them, the Native American tattoos are the most popular ones. Aside from belonging to a certain tribe, the native American tattoos were also used to symbolize the ranking within the same tribe. High-ranking members were getting richer more adorned and more detailed tattoos.
Some members of the tribe who have achieved a certain goal or completed a certain challenge were getting an armband tattoo that marked that challenge, in order to make others feel that the person they met was more special.
Besides that, the deeper meaning of the Native American tattoos is associated with power, particularly the power and will of the inner spirit. Native Americans in general believed in spirits and animals that surrounded them. With that in mind, it was considered that every person had a spirit animal protector, hence symbolic names of the Native American tribe members and leaders.
Tattooing an armband that contained the symbol of their animal protector also invoked the belief that the spirit animal empowers and makes a stronger bond with the wearer of the tattoo.
Finally, Native American people wore feather adornments and jewelry in their hairs and clothes. However, given that the feathers are a symbolic trademark of the Native American tribes, feathers were often illustrated as part of the tattoo arts.
Besides feathers, many tribe members tattooed the birds on their armbands, especially because of the unique properties of each bird.
Each bird has its meaning so the hawk feathers meant protection and guardianship. Blue jay feathers were associated with healing, while owl feathers represented death. In some other Native American tribes, the owl feathers represented wisdom.
Finally, many people decide to deviate from the standard frames of armband tattoo designs and come up with their own, which comes with unique meaning as it is.
For example, people who are allured with music and love it could tattoo a piano string armband, notes. People who are in love with painting and art could add some artistic symbolism to their design. Gaming fans can make an armband out of their favorite characters.
13 Best Armband Tattoo Designs
Now that we’ve detailed all the secrets and origin of the armband tattoo, let’s dive into the best armband tattoo designs that may catch your attention. Understandably, everyone wants to remain as unique as possible when making their armband tattoo. That’s why we listed the best designs we found to help you find your own.
Hopefully, our list will inspire you to make a unique tattoo, regardless of the type of armband you’ll use.
1. Solid Black Armband
Whether you’ve lost a loved one, are mourning, or are just looking for a minimalistic solid black armband without diving too deep into the tribal culture, a solid black armband is ideal for you. We believe we detailed everything we possibly know about these tattoos, but you’re going to love their versatility and ease of making. Because of its easier design, it is also likely to heal faster. While the black color is a common practice on these armbands, other colors are also permitted.
2. Nature Armband Tattoo
When making an armband that resembles a lot of natural motifs, it will require more work to be made, but the result is satisfying nonetheless. This design also features some dotted artwork as well as some geometrical motives, as well as a deer in the night. This design is easy to connect to the tribal artwork in addition to some natural motives. This is also an ideal design for people who are starting to make their sleeve tattoo but ran out of ideas.
3. Knot Maori Armband
This armband tattoo with various geometrical and tribal shapes with the popular, endless Maori knot at the center is extremely popular, and this particular design is spectacularly made. It’s precise, sharp, and boasts amazing details. This armband can easily extend into multiple knots, to make it longer for those looking for a sleeve tattoo. It can also be time-consuming, so better charge your batteries, like this design, and those similar to it may require more than one session with the tattoo artist.
Maori knot has different variations that are present through different cultures. Make sure to research the knot you want and discuss it with your tattoo artist before making it.
4. Simple Tribal Armband
As we said earlier, solid black armbands are an ideal minimalistic way to pay tribute to a deceased loved one but also mark the support of tribal culture. With that in mind, combining a solid black design with some geometrical, endless shape in an armband is a great way to add more details and texture to your tattoo, without breaking the minimalism. We, especially, liked how it was done in this particular tattoo.
5. Floral Armband Tattoo
When making an armband tattoo, no rule explicitly states that you can’t combine your armband ink with another tattoo. Here’s a combination of a solid black armband with an older tattoo. The armband looks minimalistic and simple, but the colorful and vibrant flowers add some more color and life to it.
Of course, you can combine any tattoo that you want with your armband tattoo, but we liked the particular execution of this design.
6. Hexagon Armband Tattoo
Hexagon is one of the most symmetric geometrical shapes, and as such it earned its popularity in different tattoos. The armband tattoos are no exception. The dark, sharp, and precise ink adds a special depth to this infinite armband, with the tattoo extending into the third dimension.
The hexagons add a modern look to this tattoo, especially the way they were designed. They step away from the conventional tribal and solid black tattoos, are original, but not so easy to ink whatsoever.
7. Complex Tribal Armband
If you’re aiming for the most complex, detailed, precise, and original armband tattoo with the tribal, particularly Native American details, you should start from a design like this. It looks crisp and is a work of art. It combines various geometrical shapes, as well as other lines that are easily recognizable in the Native American culture.
What’s also important is that the horizontal armbands are interlaced with diagonal knots and other sharp and detailed tattoo designs. It’s definitely not easy to make, but the design is well-worth it after all the hard work.
8. Butterfly Armband
Butterfly armbands aren’t something that you’ll find every day. Still, we’re impressed with this design. Butterflies alone are the symbols of innocence, transformation, freedom, and rebirth. Patched into a gorgeous looking armband, you can use their wings to add different patterns and textures, regardless of which culture.
While this butterfly armband doesn’t sport many textures other than the stripes and lines which are characteristic of the butterfly wings, the tattoo itself is still gorgeous and detail-oriented.
9. Celtic Armband Tattoo
Celtic armband tattoos are more popular among women than men, but you can see exceptions everywhere and every day. This particular model will appeal to those who enjoy the knots that spread into infinity. However, the sign of witchcraft may appeal more to women who are into cottage core culture, as well as other cultures, including the gothic. Celtic traditions were quite prominent in the early middle age, with the belief of fae folks prevailing among the fading pagan beliefs.
10. Armband Tattoo For Ladies
This is a gorgeous combination of a ladylike armband tattoo and a crisp and detailed armband suitable more for females, although that’s a subjective assessment. Each petal as well as the leaf is perfectly detailed, with two thinner lines that mark the armband. Ladies usually prefer thinner solid black armbands than men. However, there are quite some exceptions based on personal preferences.
11. Crown & Cross Tattoo
As mentioned in the types of armband tattoos, as well as their meanings, crown and cross tattoos were quite popular when it comes to Christianity and belief in Jesus Christ. This particular armband features a thorned crown worn by Jesus when he was carrying the cross.
The cross is there as the mark of Christianity, where Jesus was crucified. The design is similar to other minimalistic armbands, but you can leave it to your creativity if you’re interested in inking a tattoo similar to this one.
12. Music Armband Tattoo
If you’re looking for more abstract ideas for a tattoo, this music armband tattoo is worth checking out. Whether you’re musically educated or not, there’s no simple human being who can live without music. A lot of people use music to draw power and inspiration, so it shouldn’t surprise you if there are people who will be interested to make a musical armband tattoo.
Nevertheless, even if you’re not interested in music that much, this image can help you make your ideas for the armband tattoo of your own.
Also Read: 60+ Best Music Tattoos To Show Off Your Love For Good Tunes
13. Knot Armband Tattoo
This one combines the tribal knotted design, together with the Celtic design. It also looks simpler compared to other armband tattoos because it requires less ink. Don’t let that fool you, however. These chains can be quite demanding to ink, so don’t be surprised if a tattoo design similar to this one takes more time to be complete.
Additional Questions About Armband Tattoo
Before we schedule an appointment with our tattoo artist, we’re naturally full of questions and we may not always be able to find the right answer.
Hopefully, in the section below, you can find the answers to all the things that interested you, but you didn’t know where to ask.
How To Choose The Pattern For My Armband Tattoo?
That’s your personal preference. A lot of people ink tattoos because they connect with the symbolism behind the inked art at a deeper level, and not just because it’s a decoration on skin. Think about the symbolism that identifies with you, be it tribal Celtic, or Hawaiian design.
People who are looking for minimalism usually ink a solid black armband or some geometric shape.
Does Armband Tattoo Hurt To Make?
Every tattoo hurts to make, especially if it takes a long time and your tattoo artist doesn’t take breaks frequently. Nevertheless, with the right tattoo artist, you can agree on the right number of sessions or ask them to take breaks frequently so the pain doesn’t burn you out. You can read more about tattoo pain in our tattoo pain chart article.
Who Is Armband Tattoo For?
It’s for everyone, regardless of biological sex, personal preferences, or design preferences. Like you can see, we featured designs suitable for both men and women, as well as different preferences. If you’re looking for a tribal armband, you can come up with a design that suits your preference.
Even the solid black armband tattoo is for everyone, as long as you resonate with it, or find the minimalistic design attractive.
Are Armband Tattoos Expensive?
Armband tattoos require a higher level of focus on your tattoo artist, ink, as well as their time. With that in mind, armband tattoos can be quite expensive, with some pricier studios pretty much breaking your bank.