11 of the Best Mexican Tattoos for Women [Symbolism & Ideas]

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posted by Shelley | last updated February 19, 2021

Looking for the best Mexican tattoos for women?

You’ve come to the right place!

Here’s why…

👋 I’m Shelley, and I have been traveling solo and living in Mexico since April 2018. I fell in love with Mexico & wanted to get a tribute tattoo after my first year living here.

I did a bunch of research into designs, but decided on La Sirena (The Mermaid) from the Mexican card game called La Loteria.

These are popular tattoos to get, and there are 54 cards in the game, so if you were inclined, you could even do a whole Loteria themed sleeve!

…But we’ll get to La Loteria!

In fact, we’ll be getting to ALL of the most popular Mexican tattoo subject matter:

From La Catrina/Day of the Dead, Frida Kahlo, textile styles, cacti and roses, hummingbirds, traditional Aztec art and contemporary Mexican subject matter.

You’re even going to learn about 11 female Mexican tattoo artists you need to have on your radar!

If you’re ready to get inspired for your next tattoo, maybe even your first tattoo, let’s dive in…

Sugar skull colorful tattoo on a woman

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Embroidery Style Tattoos

This relatively new style of tattooing gives the optical illusion your skin has been embroidered.

The Mexican bordado (embroidery) style tattoos are commonly done with traditional folkloric elements, including hummingbirds, deer and flowers.

This esthetic is indicative of the style of embroidery found on everything from tapestries & tablecloths, to the traditional huipil (pronounced wee-peel).

The huipil is a pre-Hispanic tunic style garment, still worn by Mexican & Central American women today! 



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La Catrina Tattoos

Besides Frida Kahlo, La Catrina might be the most commonly tattooed woman from Mexico!

She has a long & interesting history, dating back to 1910 when Mexican printmaker/illustrator José Guadalupe Posada first penned her! He named this figure, La Calavera Garbancera (The Elegant Skull).

This dapper woman was a social critique of Mexican society at the time, when many Mexicans were aspiring to dress and act more “European.”

Posada saw this as a snub to the more “humble,” traditional style of Mexican dress, and he created his character as a skeleton who would serve as a reminder that we eventually die — fancy clothing or not. We’re all just bones beneath our clothing! 

Posada’s original woman was just a skull until Mexican artist Diego Rivera (AKA Frida’s husband) gave her a body in 1947.

His painting, Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central), is the first time we see the skeletal woman we now know as La Catrina.

La Catrina’s transition into the official grand dame of the Mexican Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday came after Rivera’s 50-foot-long painting — in which he placed her in the dead center. (💀 Pun very much intended!)

You can see this amazing painting at the Diego Rivera Mural Museum in Mexico City!


Hummingbird Tattoos

Colibri (hummingbirds) turn up in many of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic religions. From the Mayans to the Aztecs, the hummingbird seems to be a revered animal throughout centuries-old Mexicaan lore.

One of two principal Aztec gods, Huitzilopochtli, was often represented in art as a hummingbird or an eagle.

This deity symbolized the sun, war, youth and conquest — making the hummingbird a symbol of perseverance, among other things.

The Aztecs also believed hummingbirds were the reincarnation of their fallen warriors.

They believed when a warrior died in battle, he would reincarnate and return to Earth as a hummingbird, thus these birds essentially carried our immortal essence.

For the Mayans, the hummingbird had the ability to carry the thoughts & desires of humans from place to place.

They believe the gods revered these beautiful birds so much, they gave them incredible flying abilities, including such fast speed that no human could ever catch one.


Frida Kahlo Tattoos

There is perhaps no single woman who represents Mexico as much as artist Frida Kahlo.

She has been immortalized in many tattoos — in literal & abstract form — the latter seeming to carry her rebellious nature on, even decades after her death in 1954.

“She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form.” —FridaKahlo.org

I have traveled to half the states in Mexico, and even when I least expect it, I’ll find a street art mural in tribute to Frida!

Her spirit is very much still alive and well in her homeland… and on many a tattoo. Frida tattoos were definitely the easiest to find on insta 🌺

Are you a Frida SUPERfan? Put the Frida Kahlo Museum AKA Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City on your bucket list!


La Loteria Card Tattoos

La Loteria (The Lottery) is a popular card game in Mexico which dates all the way back to 1887! It is played with 52 cards, and kind of similar to the U.S. game, Go Fish. 

The art from the game is iconic — with parody imagery showing up all the time in Mexican pop culture.

Because of the game’s popularity, La Loteria tattoos are also quite popular. Some people elect to get the entire card, while some (like me!) just get the image from the card.

With so many card options to choose from, there’s no shortage of tattoo inspiration from La Loteria. Here are some of the more popular cards-turned-tattoos:

  • El Sol (The Sun)
  • La Luna (The Moon)
  • La Sirena (The Mermaid)
  • El Corazon (The Heart)
  • El Alacran (The Scorpion)

Day of the Dead/Sugar Skull Tattoos

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is one of my favorite times in Mexico! I absolutely love celebrating this holiday in Mexico.

In fact, one of things I admire most about Mexican culture is their relationship to death.

I’ve always had a slight fascination with how taboo death is in the Western world, rather than seeing it as an inventible part of life. Truthfully, I never identified with the somber, funerary rites of the U.S., so Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead feels right to me. 

One of the most iconic features of this holiday is the sugar skull. Ironically, these don’t not totally have Mexican (or even pre-Hispanic) roots.

They came via Italian Catholic missionaries, who brought sugar art to Mexico in the 1600s. Mexico, abundant in sugar, became a natural place for these molded sugar figures to take root and form their own traditions.

The sugar skulls seen during Dia de Muertos represent a departed person. The person’s name is written on the forehead of the skull, and they are then placed on the ofrenda (altar) or gravestone to welcome that person’s returning spirit.


Huichol Art Style Tattoos

The Huichol (pronounced wee-chole) people, from the present-day Mexican states of Jalisco, Durango, Zacatecas and Nayarit, are known for their yarn and beadwork designs.

For tattooing, the bead designs are quite popular, especially given that most patterns have a deep religious and cultural significance.

Huichol tattoos bear a striking resemblance to the increasingly popular cross stitch tattoos.

Similar to embroidery style tattoos, the cross stitch takes its cues from a sewing technique called, you guessed it, cross stitching. Historic records of textile remains have even found pre-Hispanic societies used this sewing technique!

After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the technique only gained popularity…

“Crossed stitches, extremely fashionable in Europe during the 19th century, became so popular in Mexico that they eventually overshadowed most other stitches.” —V&A Museum


Aztec & Maya Art Style Tattoos

If you’re looking for a tattoo with a lottttt of inherent symbolism, an Aztec or Maya tattoo might be your best bet.

The origins of (known) Mexican civilization date back to the Olmecs, who inhabited present-day Mexico from ca. 1200BC to ca. 400BC — almost 3,300 years ago 🤯

Historians & anthropologists don’t even really know much about these mysterious peoples, but from them, we who we now know as Aztecs and Mayas.

The Mayan Civilization encompassed what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, as well as the neighboring countries of Guatemala & Belize.

Aztecas, or Aztecs, lived in central Mexico, and in fact, are responsible for the establishment of present-day Mexico City!

The story goes that the Aztecs priests had a vision in which their God of Sun and War, Huitzilopochtlii, said they must find an eagle holding a snake in its talons, perched on a cactus — and that would be where they’d set up their city.

They found their eagle in a city they called Tenochtitlan, and what we call Mexico City. The image of this snake now graces the center of the Mexican flag.

Both the Aztec and Mayan Civilizations were pantheistic, meaning they worshiped many gods.

For both peoples, the feathered serpent is commonly seen in tattoo imagery. This god — known as Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs, and Kukulkan to the Maya — is one of the most important for both peoples.


Mexican Food Tattoos

Food is a big part of Mexican culture and national identity, a fact that has even been validated by the United Nations.

In 2010, UNESCO declared it an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind; Translation: Mexican food is one of mankind’s cultural treasures!

While there’s no shortage of Mexican food art to tattoo on your body, some of the more popular ones include:


Cactus/Agave Plant Tattoos

There is no one plant more closely associated with Mexico than the nopal (cactus)! The agave, a particular type of cacti, makes one of Mexico’s most important products — tequila.

Beyond the agave, the cactus plant is commonly eaten throughout Mexico. It’s taste & texture are similar to okra, and it is considered a Mexican superfood.

Aesthetic-wise, cacti make for beautiful tattoos. From abstract-style designs to hyper-realism, cactus imagery seems to have a home across all styles of Mexican tattoo art.

Cactus are found throughout most of Mexico, and in nearly every state.

In fact, the prickly pear cactus is considered the official plant of Mexico. You’ll even find one of these cacti on the Mexican flag in the country’s Coat of Arms!


Mexican Flower/Floral Tattoos

The most popular flower tattoo, in Mexico & the world(!), seems to be the rose. You’ll find a lot of stand-alone rose tattoos, roses with skulls, and roses in Dia de Muertos flowers crowns.

If you’re looking to go beyond the rose, consider a marigold tattoo! This flower is synonymous with Day of the Dead — much more than the rose, actually.

“It is believed that the spirits of the dead visit the living during the celebration. Marigolds guide the spirits to their altars using their vibrant colors and pungent scent. Marigolds, or flowers in general, also represent the fragility of life.” —La Jolla Mom

Another great option is incorporating your flower in a Mexican folk art design! This esthetic is commonly seen on embroidery, as well as in paintings and prints.


11 Female Mexican Tattoo Artists You Need to Follow

1. Lilian Raya

2. Diana Bama

3. Michelle Gomez

4. Paloma Araneda AKA “Icarus Pal”

5. M. Fernanda Ramirez

6. Getsy Torres

7. Peri

8. Christian Castañeda AKA “Xian of Death”

9. Fer Andrade

10. Tata

11. Valentina (Hand poke tattoos)



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Have a favorite Mexican tattoo style and/or favorite artist?

Please let me know in the comments down below.

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¡Hola Chicas!

I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

I started this Blog and Podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel and Mexico travel off your bucket list… READ MORE

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