Since Rihanna first appeared on the stage in 2005 with her first single ‘Pon de replay’, she has gone through a true metamorphosis. From the innocent little girl with the long, wavy hair, she changed into a sexy, provocative vamp. She has increasingly been depicted in the media with excessive indulgences at parties and with drug use as of late. Her fans are staying loyal to ‘RiRi’ and her music though, and so she currently remains one of the bestselling female artists.
Through the years she also began to explore the world of tattoos more and more. She says she is so intrigued by tattoos that you could almost call it an obsession, or addiction. She has had no less than 23 done, each with a special meaning. We’ll tell you about the main ones.
Rihanna’s first tattoo
Rihanna’s first tattoo dates back to 2006, right at the time her music career was first taking off. So it’s not surprising that her first tattoo is an ode to music: she got a G clef and a musical note done on her foot.
It seems that despite the special meaning of that first tattoo, Rihanna got tired of it after 6 years and and in 2012 she had an Egyptian falcon tattooed over the music tattoo. The tattoo was done by Keith ‘Bang Bang’ Mccurdy, a well-known tattoo artist. He also did some of the other tattoos Rihanna has. He says Rihanna goes into complete ecstasy after she gets a new tattoo. “She jumps up and down like a 16-year-old girl that just got a new car.”
The tattoo is an almost exact replica of a 2300-year-old Egyptian falcon that is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Rihanna herself tweeted this about the meaning of the tattoo: “A falcon: a light in the darkness. Never close their eyes when they sleep.”
Rihanna’s hands and fingers
A large portion of Rihanna’s tattoos are on her hands and fingers. On her right hand we find a henna-ish tattoo in the shape of a dragon claw. She had that one done during a concert series in New Zealand. It was one of her most painful tattoos. Rihanna chose to have it done in the traditional ‘Maori’ way. The Maori are the original inhabitants of New Zealand. Her then-boyfriend Chris Brown has the same tattoo. Rihanna declared that the tattoo stands for strength and love.
The Maori tattoo was later incorporated into another henna-style tattoo that covered her whole hand. First the lines and incomplete angles were done (see the lighter colour on the photo), and later the whole tattoo.
Subtle: ‘Love’ and ‘Shhh…’
The middle finger of her left hand says ‘Love’. It is a very subtle tattoo, written in cursive. In pictures this one is especially visible when she makes the peace sign or puts up her middle finger. The meaning of this tattoo is not entirely clear. In the first instance maybe she wants to strengthen her message, but what about when she gives the finger? Her fans can only guess.
Rihanna’s Shhh tattoo
The second subtle finger tattoo is on Rihanna’s index finger and says: ‘Shhh…”. So she can make you shut up by placing her finger in front of her mouth. This tattoo was copied by an incredible number of fans as well as by other celebrities, such as Katy Perry and Cheryl Cole.
Rihanna’s ‘pretty face’
It would be such a shame to cover a Rihanna’s pretty face with tattoos. But that did not prevent her from getting a number of subtle tattoos on her neck, shoulders and even her ears.
The tattoo behind Rihanna’s right ear is a symbol of her astrological sign, Pisces.
One of Rihanna’s best-known tattoos starts behind her neck and runs down to her shoulders. Just like the dragon tattoo on her hand, this tattoo also refers to her former boyfriend, Chris Brown. The stars match the three stars that he had tattooed behind his ear.
Being careless, Riri?
On her neck we find the cursive tattoo ‘Rebelle fleur’. Language purists say it should really be ‘Fleur rebelle’ , but ‘Bang Bang’, the tattoo artist, declared that is was written like that on purpose.
It wouldn’t be the first time something went wrong with Rihanna’s tattoos. In 2007, she had a Sanskrit prayer tattooed on her hip. Rihanna wanted it to say: forgiveness, honesty, oppression and control. Instead she got a quote about long-time suffering and fear.
Never a failure, always a lesson
In 2009, Rihanna had her life motto, ‘Never a failure, always a lesson’ tattooed below her right clavicle. The tattoo was purposely written in mirror script, so that she would be reminded of this every time she stands in front of a mirror.
Around and below the breast
Since Rihanna often wears very revealing clothing, we regularly get to see the tattoos she has around and below her breasts.
On the other side she also got two bigger tattoos done with a special meaning. One is under her left armpit, just above the Arabic words. It is an image of the Egyptian king Nefertiti, who was known as an icon of beauty.
For the tattoo below her breast, Rihanna was also inspired by Egyptian mythology. She had the Egyptian goddess Isis put there as a tribute to her late grandmother. Isis is the symbol for the perfect mother and woman.
Are you feeling inspired?
Watch our video on Rihanna’s most beautiful tattoos: