A mandala is a geometric compilation of symbols, typically aligned in a circle. The meaning of a mandala isn’t set in stone, though it’s typically considered a symbol of balance, eternity, and perfection. Many cultures have used the mandala symbol within their teachings as a way to further that understanding of balance. In Hinduism, for example, it is often embedded in prayer and meditation rooms, as it’s connected to focus. In Buddhism, mandalas symbolize the balance of body and mind. Even in Christianity, mandalas are often incorporated into the artwork within churches.
As a tattoo, mandalas can be representative of so many things: your internal balance, your soul and eternity, or something unique. The blooming look of mandalas mimics that of a flower, so it could even be as simple as a translation of nature into geometry. No two mandalas are the same, so you can really play around with the design and be sure it is true to you.
If you like the look and symbolism of mandala tattoos, here are 23 ideas to inspire your next ink.
Half Mandala Tattoo
Because of the symmetry of mandalas, they look great cut into segments to fit different places. Try playing with different detailing to fill the space in an interesting way.
Minimal Mandala Tattoo
While mandalas are known for their intricacy, it doesn’t mean they always have to be super detailed. If you prefer the minimal look, mandalas can easily be pared down to basics.
Shoulder Mandala Tattoo
Mandalas make for a great sleeve cap or just a shoulder tattoo in general, as the shape mimics that of the shoulder. For even more intrigue, have the center of your shoulder be the focal point of your mandala.
Fade-Out Mandala Tattoo
Don’t box your mandala in with an outline! Instead, have the outer layer fizzle out with dot detailing for a unique touch.
Dotwork Mandala Tattoo
For some delicate touches, have your detailing done in dotwork rather than lines.
Background Mandala Tattoo
While mandalas are always attention-grabbing, try using one for the backdrop of a design instead of the focal point. The geometric pattern draws the eye forward.
Face Mandala Tattoo
For those looking for a more daring tattoo, mandalas look great on the face and neck because they can be positioned in so many different ways. Skip the lines and go for all dotwork for a more unique design.
Tiny Mandala Tattoo
Shrink down your mandala into an almost impossible size for a tattoo that feels like it’s for your eyes only. Placing it along the wrist makes it feel like a beautiful, permanent bracelet.
Thick Outline Mandala Tattoo
For a fun switch, outline the entire mandala in a thick outline, but fill in all details using only dotwork. This will make the design feel light despite the thick lines.
Upper Arm Mandala Tattoo
If you don’t want to cap off a sleeve with a mandala, a half mandala on the upper arm still mimics that movement without being so round. Incorporate natural elements, like a sunflower, to emphasize the mandala’s connection to nature.
Chest Mandala Tattoos
Since mandalas are already symmetrical, placing two of them in a symmetrical area just emphasizes the unique design. Go for consistent linework and slight shading to add depth to the tats as well.
Spaced Out Mandala Tattoo
Some mandalas want to draw your eye over the entire piece. If you’d prefer to place more emphasis on one specific part of the design, try placing some space between the foreground and background.
Simplified Mandala Tattoo
A great trait of a mandala is that you can break it down into different elements and still get across what it is. Here, the petals of the mandala are shrunk down to fit the ear in an elegant but still noticeable way.
Intricate Mandala Tattoo
Use dotwork to create intricate patterns for a whimsical touch. Use different compactions and thicknesses to mimic the designs of a mandala without the extra lines.
Rose & Mandala Tattoo
To really highlight the mandala’s connection to nature, try juxtaposing it next to something natural, like a rose. Keep the designs more realistic, to keep the tat from feeling cartoonish.
Sun & Moon Mandala Tattoo
Play around with different images that can feature a mandala, like a moon and a sun.
Armband Mandala Tattoo
Mandalas make for great centerpieces for armbands, as they provide a focal point to draw your eye to. Their shape also makes for a great starting point for adding detailing and extra design.
Personalized Mandala Tattoo
Rather than getting a cut-and-dry mandala, try adding more whimsical elements like flowers or other personal symbols to customize your tattoo. Use traditional mandalas as inspiration, but really make it your own!
Simple Mandala Tattoo
While it can feel like all mandalas are jam-packed with detail, it’s also totally possible to simplify it for a more minimal look. Keep the extra detailing minimal to really focus on the mandala.
Sleeve Mandala Tattoo
Mandalas make great additions to tattoo sleeves already in progress. Because they look good in both the foreground and background, you can position mandala tattoos in whatever way looks best with the tats you already have.
Negative Space Armband Mandala Tattoo
Mandalas make beautiful armband designs because you can cut them in half and still get the same intricate, ornate design. Mimic the look on the other side of the armband to give the illusion of negative space.
Flowers & Mandala Tattoo
Mandalas are already tied to nature, but incorporating them into larger designs with natural elements—like flowers—deepens the symbolism. It also looks natural among the flowers, so it won’t interrupt the flow of your design.
Sleeve Addition Mandala Tattoo
Mandala tattoos seamlessly fit into any style of sleeve, as they can get into any space and be crafted in so many different ways. This one is blended so seamlessly into the sleeve that it looks like one large tattoo.