Aztec Tattoo Meanings: Traditional and Modern Interpretations

Aztec culture has intrigued and inspired many people over the years, both historically and artistically. Their rich visual symbolism filled with meaning has led to the popularity of Aztec tattoo. These captivating designs not only possess a unique artistic aesthetic, but also signify various beliefs or qualities within the Aztec culture.

The fascinating Aztec motifs and their meanings opens up a wide array of themes and ideas for tattoo designs. Let’s unlock the secrets behind these symbols and explore some of the most remarkable Aztec tattoo designs and their meanings.

Historical Context of Aztec Tattoos

The Aztec Empire rose to prominence in the 14th to 16th centuries and was dominant civilizations in Mexico. The Aztecs were a highly advanced civilization for their incredible knowledge of agriculture, mathematics, astronomy, and art. They crafted a unique culture that intertwined their love for art and religion in every aspect of their lives. One of the lesser-known aspects of their art is tattooing. And no, we’re not talking about random tribal designs inked here and there. These tattoos were intricate, meaningful, and a significant part of their identity.

But before we get into the art and significance of Aztec tattoos, let’s take a look at the techniques they used to create these incredible designs. Modern tattoos use fancy electric tattoo guns to instantly carve the design into the flesh. But back in the day, the Aztec people had no such luxury.

They used a much more manual method involving sharpened bone or sharp obsidian. It’s quite common for Aztec artists to use these materials. The tattooing process involved puncturing the skin with these sharp tools and rubbing ink made from various natural materials, such as charcoal or plant extracts, into the cuts. It may have been time-consuming, painful, but the end results were truly mesmerizing.

Tattooing was an essential part of Aztec art. It was revered by warriors, priests, and other high-ranking individuals within the society.

The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century caused the crumbling of the Aztec civilization. It also led to the loss or destruction of many facets of their culture. However, the artistic designs and symbols associated with Aztec tattoos have endured. The visual expressions of the ancient civilization can be appreciated by people today, thanks to the codices, Spanish records, and archaeological research.

Aztec Tattoo Designs and Their Meanings

Aztec tattoo designs often featured a wide range of symbols. Each of them held specific meaning and significance. Here are some of the most common symbols that can be found in Aztec tattoo art, along with their meanings.

Sun God

The sun holds significant importance in Aztec culture, as it is the primary source of life and energy. The Aztecs worshiped the sun god, Tonatiuh, who was responsible for the rise and fall of civilizations. A sun tattoo can symbolize light, warmth, and the triumph of good over evil. The complex design often features intricate details and powerful depictions of the deity within the sun’s center.

Sun of God Hand tattoo

Sun of God Hand tattoo

Aztec Calendar Stone Tattoo

The Aztec Calendar Stone, also known as the Sun Stone, represents the intricate Aztec view of time. This iconic design consists of various concentric circles containing symbols for the days and months of the Aztec year. A Calendar Stone tattoo can convey a deep connection to your Aztec ancestry. It can also represent a fascination with this culture’s understanding of the passage of time.

aztec calendar tattoo

aztec calendar tattoo

Aztec calendar Stone

Aztec calendar Stone

Quetzalcoatl Tattoo

Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, ranks highly among Aztec gods. As the god of wind and knowledge, he played a prominent role in Aztec myths and legends. A Quetzalcoatl tattoo can symbolize many qualities, including wisdom, creativity, personal growth, and transformation. If you’re looking for an impressive statement piece, this design can be as elaborate as you like.

Quetzalcoatl head tattoo

Quetzalcoatl head tattoo

Quetzalcoatl back tattoo

Quetzalcoatl back tattoo

Aztec Eagle Tattoo

The eagle held great significance in Aztec culture, symbolizing the sun, power, and strength. It was also the emblem of the powerful Aztec warrior class and the founding myth of their capital, Tenochtitlan. An Aztec eagle tattoo can be representative of your warrior spirit, an unwavering resilience in life’s trials, and challenges. Or, it can also just represent a love for these majestic birds and the culture they symbolize.

Ripped skin Aztec eagle head tattoo

Aztec eagle head tattoo in ripped skin style

Black and white Aztec eagle on the cracked skin back tattoo

aztec eagle on the cracked skin back tattoo

aztec eagle on the cracked skin back tattoo

Aztec eagle sleeve tattoo

Aztec eagle sleeve tattoo

Traditional Aztec eagle tattoo

Traditional Aztec eagle tattoo

Aztec Warrior Tattoo

Aztec warriors stood at the heart of their society. Their bravery, skill, and prowess in battle made them the quintessential representation of Aztec military might. An Aztec warrior tattoo can signify your fighting spirit, determination to overcome challenges or commitment to a particular cause. There are variety of designs, from minimalist to more intricate, featuring Jaguar or Eagle Warriors. Both are elite warriors in Aztec society.

Aztec Warrior with eagle headdress tattoo

aztec warrior and eagle tattoo

An Aztec Warrior with an eagle headdress is a commanding design. The warrior symbolizes courage and determination, while the eagle represents vision and strength. This combination conveys a spirited resolve, and an unwavering focus on one’s goals.

Aztec Warrior tattoo sleeve

aztec Warrior tattoo sleeve

Aztec pyramid and princess warrior tattoo

Aztec pyramid and princess warrior tattoo

The forearm Aztec princess warrior tattoo is a captivating blend of the Aztec’s architectural prowess and the strength of their female warriors. This design pays homage to the civilization’s advancements and the power of its women, making it a unique and empowering choice.

Aztec warrior skull tattoo

Aztec warrior skull tattoo

The Aztec warrior skull design is a potent symbol of life, death, and the cycle of existence. This design represents resilience in the face of adversity and a deep respect for life’s transient nature.

Aztec jaguar warrior tattoo

Aztec jaguar warrior tattoo

The Aztec warrior with a jaguar headdress design is a tribute to the elite Aztec military order. The fearsome jaguar symbolizes power, agility, and stealth, making this design a striking representation of one’s own inner strength and cunning.

Gothic warrior leg tattoo

aztec warrior leg tattoo

Aztec pyramid and tiger warrior arm tattoo

Aztec tiger warrior and pyramid arm tattoo

Tezcatlipoca Tattoo

Tezcatlipoca, the “Smoking Mirror,” was a powerful and multifaceted Aztec god. He is associated with various elements, such as the night sky, hurricanes, ancestral memory, and conflict. A Tezcatlipoca tattoo can signify a complex personality, with dualities such as order and chaos, or good and evil. This design may appeal to those looking for a tattoo that symbolizes the acceptance of the contradictory aspects of human nature.

Aztec Gods chest tattoo

Tonatiuh and Tezcatlipoca Aztec God chest tattoo

Tezcatlipoca Aztec God Tattoo

Tezcatlipoca Aztec God Tattoo

Aztec Skull Tattoo

Skull imagery was prevalent since death held a significant place in Aztec religious beliefs. Skull often represents regeneration and rebirth. An Aztec skull tattoo can be a striking reminder of the cycle of life and human transience. You can incorporate skull designs with other elements like calendar stones or warrior motifs. You can also opt for a simple yet powerful stand-alone skull.

Skull and sun of God leg tattoo

aztec skull leg tattoo

Xochipilli Tattoo

As the god of art, music, poetry, and games, Xochipilli’s name translates to the “Prince of Flowers.” A Xochipilli tattoo can symbolize a deep love and appreciation for creativity, color, and beauty. It can also pay homage to a favorite activity or hobby. Opt for a design with intricate floral patterns, celebrating the artistic potential within you.

The God of Art

Xochipilli the God of Art

Deity of flowers

Xochipilli Deity of flowers

Huitzilopochtli Tattoo

Huitzilopochtli, “The Hummingbird of the South,” was the Aztec god of war and the sun. As the guardian of the South, he led the Aztec people on their long journey to the Valley of Mexico. A tattoo of Huitzilopochtli symbolizes valor, guidance, and protection, making it an extraordinary and culturally rich design.

The God of War tattoo

Aztec Huitzilopochtli the God of War tattoo

Huitzilopochtli Aztec God of war thigh tattoo

Huitzilopochtli Aztec God of war thigh tattoo

Aztec Snake Tattoo

Aztec Snake

Snakes held particular reverence in Aztec culture, symbolizing rebirth, transformation, and healing. An Aztec snake tattoo can represent a potent and positive force, encouraging the healing of past wounds and personal growth. Adding unique visual elements like feathers or specific Aztec patterns can create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Tlaloc Tattoo

Tlaloc, the mighty god of rain, fertility, and agriculture. It played a vital role in Aztec beliefs, as he brought life-sustaining water and nourishment. A Tlaloc tattoo can symbolize growth or new beginnings. It is also an excellent idea that not only connect to the Earth but also the potential for a prosperous future.

Aztec Tlaloc tattoo

Aztec Tlaloc tattoo

The Ollin Symbol Tattoo

The Ollin symbol, meaning “movement” or “earthquake” in Nahuatl, occupies the center of the Aztec Calendar Stone. Reminiscent of a swirling sun, the Ollin tattoo connects you to the perpetual motion and the natural flow of life. Embrace change and transition with this striking and versatile design.

eye of ollin tattoo

eye of ollin tattoo

aztec ollin and pyramid tattoo

aztec ollin and pyramid tattoo

aztec ollin tattoo on upper arm

aztec ollin tattoo on upper arm

Realistic eye of aztec ollin tattoo

Realistic eye of aztec ollin tattoo

Aztec Temple Tattoo

Aztec temples stood as gargantuan symbols of their power, religious devotion, and connection to their gods. An Aztec temple tattoo signifies a strong spiritual relationship or a tribute to this storied civilization. Choose from designs featuring well-known temples like Templo Mayor or those adorned in complex geometric patterns.

Jaguar Design

The jaguar was a powerful symbol in Aztec culture, representing fearlessness and prowess in battle. A jaguar tattoo can symbolize determination, protection, and personal power.

aztec Jaguar and Pyramid sleeve tattoo

aztec Jaguar and Pyramid sleeve tattoo

Coatlicue Tattoo

Coatlicue, “The Serpent Skirted,” was the Aztec earth goddess and mother of many other deities. As the goddess of life and death, she had a dual nature, with both nurturing and destructive capabilities. A Coatlicue tattoo can symbolize the strength and resilience of motherhood or the duality of life and death.

Coatlicue the God of fertility and motherhood

Aztec Princess Tattoo

Aztec Princess full arm tattoo

The Aztec Princess tattoo is a captivating design that honors the powerful women of the Aztec Empire. It can symbolize beauty, grace, and the courage to stand up for what you believe in. This striking piece can feature a wide array of unique elements, from intricate Aztec patterns to the regal headdresses worn by the Princesses.

Tips for Choosing an Aztec Tattoo Design

Aztec tattoo designs have been popular for many years due to their rich cultural heritage. However, choosing a right design can be a daunting task. Here are some tips that may help you pick a perfect one that is both unique and easy to understand.

Research Aztec history and culture

Before choosing a tattoo design, it’s important to learn some of Aztec history and culture. This will help you figure out what the symbols and meanings of the design.

We have discussed some of the popular Aztec symbols above, including the sun, the eagle, the calendar, and the jaguar, etc. Each of these symbols has a deep significance in Aztec history. These information can help you choose a design that resonates with your personal values and beliefs.

Choose a design that represents your personality and values

When choosing an Aztec tattoo design, it is important to choose a design that represents your personality and values. This will ensure that the design is something that you truly love and meaningful to you.

Aztec tattoos, with their intricate details and vibrant colors, are a great way to express your creativity and uniqueness.Whether you prefer clean lines and bold designs, there is a design that can cater to your preferences.

Consider the placement of your tattoo

The placement of your tattoo can also affect the choice of your design. While some designs may look great on specific body parts, other designs may not look as good in certain areas. Factors such as skin tone, body shape, and size can all impact how a design will look on your skin.

Additionally, choosing the right placement can make a significant difference in how much exposure your tattoo receives. If you want it more discreet, you should get it somewhere that can easily be covered up.

On the other hand, if you want a tattoo that is more visible, you should select a design that is bold and visually striking, and place it in an area that is easily seen, such as the arms or legs.

Consult with an experienced tattoo artist

Choosing the right Aztec tattoo design may be difficult, but an experienced tattoo artist can help you through this process. They can offer suggestions based on your preferences and guide you through the entire process.

When choosing an artist, it is important to consider their experience, artistic style, and portfolio. Look for an artist who has a lot of experience in Aztec tattoo designs. And find one who can demonstrate their ability to execute these designs with precision and attention to detail.

Create a unique design

Finally, one of the best ways to choose a design that is truly unique is to create a custom design. With the help of a skilled tattoo artist, you can make the design reflect your own style and values.

By creating a custom design, you can ensure that your tattoo is original and one-of-a-kind. You can also ensure that it captures the spirit of Aztec history and culture and enhances your overall look.


Overall, Aztec tattoos are a unique way to express your individuality and commemorate the rich history and culture of the Aztecs. With the right design and placement, you can create a tattoo that is truly one-of-a-kind and will last a lifetime.


What do Aztec tattoos mean?

Aztec tattoos are inspired by the art and mythology of the Aztecs. They often feature images of deities, animals, symbols, and geometric patterns that hold deep spiritual and cultural significance.

Most Aztec tattoos are highly intricate and visually striking. And they are typically done in black and gray ink to emphasize the details and contrast. Some of the most popular designs include the Aztec warrior, the jaguar, the serpent, the eagle, the sun, the moon, and the Aztec calendar.

The meaning of an Aztec tattoo can vary depending on the specific design and the personal intention of the wearer. Generally, Aztec tattoos symbolize strength, courage, honor, wisdom, protection, spirituality, and a deep connection to nature and the cosmos.

Why do Mexicans get Aztec tattoos?

Mexicans who have indigenous roots often get Aztec tattoos as a way to honor their heritage and express their identity. For many people, Aztec tattoos are a powerful symbol of pride, resilience, and resistance against colonization and oppression.

The Aztecs were one of the most advanced and complex civilizations in the Americas before the 16th century. Many of their traditions, beliefs, and achievements continue to inspire and influence modern Latin American cultures.

As such, Aztec tattoos are not only a form of personal expression but also a cultural statement that reflects a strong and resilient identity that has survived centuries of colonization and assimilation.

What does the Aztec jaguar tattoo mean?

The jaguar was a revered animal in Aztec mythology, representing power, ferocity, and agility. The Aztecs believed that the jaguar was a fierce protector of the underworld and the living, and they often depicted it in their religious art and rituals.

The jaguar is also associated with the sun, as it was believed to be able to travel between the worlds of the living and the dead by transforming into a solar deity.

The Aztec jaguar tattoo, therefore, symbolizes strength, protection, and spiritual power.

Some people also get the Aztec jaguar tattoo as a reminder of their own wildness and primal instincts, or as a tribute to the biodiversity and endangered species of Mexico and Central America.

What does the Aztec sun tattoo mean?

The sun was the most important deity in the Aztec pantheon, representing light, energy, and life-giving power. The Aztecs believed that the sun was the source of all creation and that it was carried across the sky by a divine chariot.

The Aztec sun tattoo, therefore, symbolizes vitality, fertility, and cosmic order. It is often depicted as a red or golden disk with intricate rays, symbols, and faces.

Some people acquire the Aztec sun tattoo to symbolize their strength or the cycle of life and death. Others see it as a way of connecting with their spiritual roots and ancient wisdom.

What does the Aztec calendar tattoo mean?

The Aztec calendar is a massive stone sculpture that was created by the Aztecs in the 15th century. It depicts the cycles of time, the movements of the celestial bodies, and the history of the Aztec civilization.

The Aztec calendar tattoo, therefore, symbolizes the cyclical nature of life, the connection between the macrocosm and the microcosm, and the power of the collective memory. It is often depicted as a highly detailed and colorful image with various symbols, signs, and figures.

Some people get the Aztec calendar tattoo as a way of staying grounded and connected to their past, present, and future selves. Others see it as a symbol of their own ability to create and manage their own destiny, or as a tribute to the wisdom and ingenuity of the Aztec people.

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One Comment

  1. Outstanding tattoo work and photos are very well are extreamly taken

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