For the most part tribal tattoos are derived from ancient tribal art. In many cultures, getting tattooed was (and still is) a rite of passage. Modern tribal tattoos are based on ancient designs. ... These cultures use their art to depict rites of passage, social status, and family identification. Tribal art is the visual arts and material culture of indigenous peoples. Also known as ethnographic art, or, controversially, primitive art, tribal arts have historically been collected by Western anthropologists, private collectors, and museums, particularly ethnographic and natural history museums.