Exploring the Meaning of the Three Lines Tattoo

Meanings of tattoos

The three lines tattoo has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many people are curious about its meaning. This simple yet striking design consists of three horizontal lines of equal length, typically placed on the inner forearm. While the meaning of the tattoo can vary depending on the person wearing it, there are several common interpretations.

The Origins of the Three Lines Tattoo

The three lines tattoo has its origins in the ancient Polynesian culture of the Pacific islands. The design is known as a “tatau,” and it was traditionally used to mark a person’s social status, accomplishments, and spiritual beliefs. The tatau was also used as a form of protection, as it was believed to ward off evil spirits.

Over time, the tatau became popular among sailors and explorers who traveled to the Pacific islands. They brought the tattoo back to Europe and other parts of the world, where it became known as the “Polynesian tattoo.” Today, the three lines tattoo is often seen as a symbol of strength, courage, and resilience.

The Meaning of the Three Lines Tattoo

There are several possible meanings behind the three lines tattoo, including:

  • Past, present, and future: Some people interpret the three lines as representing the past, present, and future. This can be a reminder to live in the moment and to focus on the present while keeping an eye toward the future.
  • Mind, body, and spirit: Another interpretation is that the three lines represent the mind, body, and spirit. This can be a reminder to take care of all aspects of oneself, including mental, physical, and spiritual health.
  • Strength, courage, and loyalty: For some, the three lines represent strength, courage, and loyalty. This can be a reminder to stay true to oneself and to always act with integrity.
  • Family, community, and culture: The three lines can also represent the values of family, community, and culture. This can be a way to honor one’s heritage and to remember the importance of connection and belonging.

Who Gets a Three Lines Tattoo?

The three lines tattoo is a popular design among people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. While some may choose the tattoo for its aesthetic appeal, others may be drawn to its symbolic meaning. Some common reasons people get a three lines tattoo include:

  • Personal significance: The tattoo may hold personal significance for the wearer, such as representing a particular milestone or accomplishment.
  • Cultural connection: Some people may get the tattoo as a way to connect with their Polynesian heritage or to honor the cultural traditions of the Pacific islands.
  • Expression of values: The three lines tattoo can also be a way to express one’s values and beliefs, such as strength, courage, and loyalty.
  • Bond with others: In some cases, people may get matching three lines tattoos with friends or family members as a way to bond and show solidarity.

How to Design a Three Lines Tattoo

If you’re considering getting a three lines tattoo, there are several things to keep in mind when designing the tattoo. Some tips include:

  • Placement: Think about where you want to place the tattoo on your body, and consider how visible you want it to be. The inner forearm is a popular choice, but the tattoo can also be placed on other parts of the body.
  • Size and style: Decide on the size and style of the tattoo that you want. Some people opt for a minimalist design with thin lines, while others may prefer a bolder, more intricate tattoo.
  • Meaning: Consider what the tattoo means to you and what message you want it to convey. This can help you choose the right design and placement for your tattoo.
  • Research: Look at examples of three lines tattoos online or in tattoo shops to get inspiration and ideas for your own tattoo design. You may also want to consult with a professional tattoo artist to get their input on the design and placement.

When designing your three lines tattoo, it’s important to keep in mind that the tattoo will be a permanent part of your body. Take the time to choose a design that is meaningful to you and that you will be happy with for years to come.


The three lines tattoo is a simple yet powerful design that can hold a range of meanings for those who wear it. Whether you choose the tattoo as a way to connect with your Polynesian heritage, to express your personal values, or to bond with others, the design serves as a reminder of strength, courage, and resilience. If you’re considering getting a three lines tattoo, take the time to research and design a tattoo that is meaningful and significant to you.

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