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A Guide To Rihanna’s Tattoos: Her 25 Inkings And What They Mean

Bad Gal RiRi loves to express her personal style through the art of tattoos. Here’s a definitive list of her current inkings and the story behind each one.

Rihanna shark tattoo

1. The shark on her ankle.

In September 2016, celebrity tattoo artist Bang Bang inked RiRi’s shark tattoo, reportedly in Drake’s Miami dressing room. Rumour has it, the inking was inspired by a stuffed shark Drizzy got Rihanna during a date at an aquarium in Toronto, and he got a matching tatt on his arm as well. In June 2021, however, fans noticed that Rihanna had covered up the tattoo. During a date night with boyfriend A$AP Rocky, fans spotted the shark had been replaced with a crown.

Rihanna's Tattoos

2. The stars down the back of her neck.

One of Rihanna’s most visible and well-known tattoos is the trail of stars cascading down her neck and back. Starting off with just a few tiny stars on her neck, her tattoo artist Bang Bang added a longer trail of different sized stars, both outlined and filled in. This tatt matches her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown’s neck tattoo.

Rihanna '1988' tattoo

3. ‘1988’ on her ankle.

Rihanna decided to commemorate the year she was born with a Gothic-style ‘1988’ tattoo. The inking was by Rihanna’s frequent tattoo artist, Bang Bang.

Rihanna wrist tattoo

4. The large cross on her wrist.

The underside of Rihanna’s wrist is decorated with an elaborate cross design, also by Bang Bang. The singer reportedly entered his New York studio at midnight and didn’t emerge until 5am proudly displaying her new tatt, which symbolises her faith.

Rihanna's Tattoos

5. Her henna-style tatt on her hand.

Reportedly unhappy with her traditional Maori tattoo, Rihanna flew her go-to tattoo artist, Bang Bang, out to the Dominican Republic to cover her hand and wrist with an impressive henna-style mandala inking.

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Rihanna Queen Nefertiti tattoo

6. The Egyptian Queen Nefertiti on her ribcage.

An iconic symbol of feminine beauty, Nefertiti was inked on Rihanna’s ribcage in 2013.

RIhanna goddess Isis tattoo

7. The Goddess Isis on her chest.

Rihanna decorated her chest with the wingspan of Egyptian Goddess Isis, who was worshiped as the ideal mother and wife. The tattoo, which Ri picked up in London’s Soho area, is a memorial to her to her beloved grandmother, Dolly.

Rihanna Falcon tattoo

8. The falcon on her ankle.

Rihanna’s gun-shaped falcon tattoo was inspired by a 2,300-year-old faience falcon that is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Inked once again by Bang Bang, Ri used design to cover up her first ever tattoo, a pair of music notes.

Rihanna cross tattoo

9. The small cross on her collarbone.

This small, fine cross on Rihanna’s collarbone is another tattoo dedicated to her belief in God. The inking is said to be small enough for Ri to cover it up with jewellery if she wants to conceal it. Controversy initially surrounded this tattoo due to its link to the Illuminati and the Freemasons.

RIhanna Tibetan 'love' tattoo

10. The Tibetan script on her back.

Rihanna’s lower back tattoo translates to the word for “lover” in Tibetan. While Ri is yet to publicly disclose what the tattoo means to her, it is assumed that it represents the people she loves and the people in her life who love her.

Rihanna 'Thug Life' tattoo

11. “Thug Life” on her knuckles.

In January 2012, Rihanna was tatted with “Thug Life” across her knuckles by artist Mark Mahoney with semi-permanent white ink. The inking is a tribute to legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. As with many white ink tattoos, this design disappeared over time.

Rihanna's Tattoos

12. ‘Rebelle Fleur” on her neck.

Translating to “rebel flower”, many people questioned whether the phrase should say “fleur rebelle“ in order to be grammatically correct. However, RiRi cleared this up with her tattoo artist Bang Bang, saying: “Rebelle Fleur translates to rebel flower, NOT rebelious flower, its 2 nouns so in that case fleur does not HAVE to be first!”

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Rihanna Arabic rib tattoo

13. The Arabic quote tattoo on her side.

Written in Arabic, the script on Rihanna’s lower ribcage reads “Al Hurria fi Al Maseeh” which translates into “Freedom in God.”

Rihanna gun tattoo

14. Her gun on her ribcage.

Rihanna apparently flew her tattoo artist Bang Bang from New York to L.A. just so she could get this little pistol tattoo. While this controversial inking initially faced criticism for promoting violence, Bang Bang said it simply represents the singer’s strength and power.

Rihanna Fenty Beauty in London

15. “Never a failure, always a lesson” quote on her shoulder.

Rihanna’s self-motivational tattoo represents her “motto in life for everything,” according to the singer. It’s written backwards on her skin because she wanted to be able to read it in the mirror.

Rihanna's Tattoos

16. Her tribal dragon claw on her hand.

Ri’s geometric claw tattoo marked her first experience of the traditional chiselling technique of the Maori people of New Zealand. It represents aroha (love) and mana (strength) and matches her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown’s tattoo on the same hand.

Rihanna shoulder tattoo

17. The roman numerals on her shoulder.

In June 2008, Rihanna got the birthday of her best friend and manager, Melissa Forde, inked on her shoulder in Roman numerals. Forde got the same tattoo with Rihanna’s birthday tattoed on her as well.

Rihanna 'shhh' tattoo

18. “Shhh” on her finger.

Another well-known inking of Rihanna’s is her “Shhh” finger tattoo. This tattoo, which has been copied by many over time, is a nod to Rihanna’s comical side – in many photos, Bad Gal can be seen silently shushing the camera.

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Rihanna's Tattoos

19. “Love” on her finger.

Complimenting Rihanna’s famous “Shhh” finger tattoo is her discreet ‘Love’ tatt, written in cursive writing on her opposite hand. Ri picked this inking up in LA in 2008.

Rihanna's Tattoos

20. Her skull and crossbones on her ankle.

Her only colour tattoo to date, Rihanna got this petite inking done in Miami in 2008. Placed on her left ankle, the pink and red bow is said to make the notorious skull and crossbones seem more feminine and sweet.

RIhanna side tattoo

21. The Sanskrit prayer on her hip.

This Sanskrit prayer on Ri’s hip was supposed to translate to “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control”, a quote from the Sanatana Dharma. Unfortunately, the tattoo was misspelled and actually translates to “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness”.

RIhanna ear tattoo

22. Her star on her inner ear.

Rihanna picked up matching tattoos with her best friend whilst in New York City. “My best friend from Barbados was here so we had to do something crazy,” said the star, “She got one too.”

Rihanna's Tattoos

23. The Pisces symbol behind her ear.

Another early inking of Ri’s is the symbol for Pisces, her astrological sign, behind her right ear. It was done by a famous Brazilian artist who makes his clients book three years in advance – lucky for Ri, they were in Tokyo at the same time and she got it done there and then.

RIhanna musical note foot tattoo

24. Her music notes on her foot.

Rihanna got her first ever tattoo in 2006. The wo music notes – a treble clef and sixteenth note – were inspired by her love of music and her early days in the music industry.