Behind the Rock’s symbolic tattoos

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, best known for his blockbusters and epic wrestling moments, turns out to be a bit softer on the inside than his rock hard exterior.

Left arm and chest: it's all about spirituality

He’s part Canadian and part Samoan, and states that this ancestry contributes to who he is. Dwayne Johnson wanted to show that with his tattoos. The former wrestler has a huge tribal piece, starting from his left shoulder and continuing onto his chest and shoulder blade.

His tattoo artist Po’oino Yrondi was involved in the decision of how the tribal piece was going to look like in the end. They started by talking about his personal history and life experiences. After setting a prayer together the tattoo artist got to work. Sixty hours (3 sessions, 20hrs each) later his own personal history was now permanently crafted onto his body.

Cultural heritage

By now you’ve probably already realised he’s really proud of his cultural heritage. That tattoo sums it all up. His black culture and his Samoan culture play a big role in the design.

Not only that, the design includes what is most important to him: his family and protecting them. A/ga fa’atasi meaning three people in one; is for him, his wife and daughter.

Some parts are about Johnson’s ancestors and his ancestors’ protection over them. The two eyes seen on his shoulder are a representation of his ancestors looking over his path.

But those aren’t the only eyes in the design. The great eye, spotted in the middle of his shoulder is meant to distract the enemy during a confrontation and for possessing their spirit.

Speaking of spirits, in Johnson’s own words:

”I have a very agressive warrior spirit, that you can’t hold down and, that will continue to fight and overcome.”

That’s a quote about the chest piece, the warrior face. It’s the reason why it’s also on the left side of his chest, it’s the part closest to the heart. The coconut leaves are an addition to that; indicating the status of a Samoan chief warrior.

The tattoo artist and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson took it even further with the priest/spiritual guide tattoo, symbolising enlightenment.

The sun on his neck emodies the appreciation of his successes. After his struggles in life, he wanted to make sure there’s a depiction of it as it stands for good fortune.

In order to make sure the past, present and future are also included onto his body, Po’oino Yrodni and Johnson added some descending swirls.

There are also stones of achievement and abundance, and a tortoise shell. The shell is a symbolic shield, deflecting evil spirits.

Hey, you there… want to learn more about spiritual tattoos? Click here. 😉

Right arm: the brahma bull

Now that we’ve broken down his left arm, we’re going to get to work with the bull on his right arm.

”Many moons ago, when I used to throw around 300 pound men for a living as a professional wrestler, I got a tattoo. I got a tattoo of a bull, a brahma bull.” – D. Johnson

You heard it from the man himself, he got his first tattoo right before jumping into the wrestling ring, assumingly around ’97 in Chicago. The blank canvas was now inked with a brahma bull.

Evolution of the bull tattoo

Years later, The Rock realised he wanted to evolve his upper arm tattoo into something different. So he contacted his dear friend and tattoo artist, Nikko Hurtado.

That’s when the world renowned Nikko started working on Johnson’s bull tattoo located on his right bicep. Thirty hours long, broken up into 4 sessions (approximately 7,5 hours each). We can imagine that must’ve been pretty challenging.

Flow of positive energy is a constant through the breath of life. Horns are always positioned forward. Not up, forward – representing forward progress and always at the ready to dig in and deep. Eye is the mana – the spirit and the power. It’s everything and it is where I draw my strength from all things I love and I protect. As with my Polynesian tattoo on the left side of my body, the symbolic mana lays over my heart. We all have mana. Our strength. You just have to find it.

“It also represents f***** pain,” he said while being under the mercy of the needle.

With this, the enhancement of the bull tattoo was a reality and they figured it was complete. …Or so they thought.

The massive bull tattoo, enhanced

When Dwayne realised the journey of the bull tattoo hasn’t yet been completed, he started researching his options. That’s when Yomico Moreno reached out to Dwayne via his instagram account.

The Rock was drawn by Yomico Moreno due to his intense passion, vivid detail and hyper realistic art. They went back and fourth for over a year before they decided on the final design.

According to Moreno, humans gravitate towards energy and that was what Dwayne liked about him. He was looking for a tattoo artist with ideas representing life’s hard lessons. Coupled with the whole universe and everything that unites us, the mysteries of life and death and the dark side of things.

With Yomico’s masterful attention to detail and the addition of the ocean waves, standing for power and protection, Dwayne’s ‘new tattoo’ was a fact.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

The baywatch star found Moreno to be a great collaborator. The kindness was mutual when Yomico described Dwayne as an ‘electrifying man’.

After over two decades of relentless energy and some heavy damage, the iconic bull tattoo covering his whole upper arm was now complete.

What do you guys think of Dwayne Johnson’s tattoos? Be sure to leave a comment behind.

1 thought on “Behind the Rock’s symbolic tattoos”

  1. Pingback: The lost history of blackwork tattoos - tattoogenda.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *