A Guide to Rihanna’s Tattoos and What They Mean

Rihanna has inked more than 25 tattoos on her body over the years

Rihanna at The 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California

PHOTO: JOE SCARNICI/GETTY

Rihanna has quite the collection of body art.

The singer has added more than two dozen tattoos over the years, and her inkings have become a signature part of her look. Many of Rihanna’s tats come from her close collaboration and friendship with celebrity tattoo artist Keith Scott “Bang Bang” McCurdy, who first inked the Fenty founder when she was just 18 years old and has been behind some of her most iconic tattoos yet.

From her tiny finger tats to her larger inkings, here’s a complete guide to Rihanna’s growing tattoo collection.

Pisces Symbol

Rihanna, hair detail, earring detail, attends the 5th Annual Diamond Ball benefiting the Clara Lionel Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street on September 12, 2019 in New York City

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Rihanna got one of her first tattoos in 2006. In honor of her astrological sign, the singer has the Pisces symbol right below her right ear.

Music Notes

Rihanna (shoe detail) attends the 'Battleship' Press Conference on the USS George Washington at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka on April 2, 2012 in Yokosuka, Japan. The film will open on April 13 in Japan

JUN SATO/WIREIMAGE

Later that year, Rihanna got another tattoo: two music notes on her inner right foot. The notes, a treble clef and sixteenth note, have since been covered.

Star

Rihanna during Conde Nast Media Group Kicks off New York Fall Fashion Week with 3rd Annual Fashion Rocks Concert - Arrivals at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States

JASON KEMPIN/FILMMAGIC

Another one of the singer’s earliest tattoos was the small outline of a star inside her left ear. The tiny ink has faded over the years.

Sanskrit Prayer

Rihanna

RIHANNA INSTAGRAM

Not long into her body art journey, Rihanna connected with future celebrity tattoo artist Keith Scott “Bang Bang” McCurdy. The singer was Bang Bang’s first celeb client, and though the two would go on to collaborate on several more inkings over the years, her first tattoo by the artist features a prayer in Sanskrit inked vertically down her right hip.

The prayer was meant to read “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control” but was misspelled and translated to “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness.”

“Shhh”

Rihanna, ring detail, tattoo detail, manicure detail, attends the 2021 Met Gala benefit "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City

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One of Rihanna’s tiniest but most memorable tattoos is the “Shhh…” she got inked on her forefinger in 2008.

A Trail of Stars

Rihanna attends the "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City

LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY

The Grammy-winning singer has a thing or two for stars. The constellation of tiny stars trailing from the nape of her neck to midway down her back was inked by her go-to artist, Bang Bang.

Henna-Style Dragon Claw

Rihanna tattoo detail at the launch of the Tattoo Heart Collection to Benefit UNICEF cocktail reception at Gucci on November 19, 2008 in New York City

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Though it was later covered up, one of the earliest inkings on Rihanna’s right hand featured a Henna-like design resembling a dragon claw with hibiscus flower detailing.

Camo Shark

Rihanna, shoe and tattoo detail, attends the world premiere of "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 5, 2018 in New York City

TAYLOR HILL/GETTY

In 2016, the singer and her then-boyfriend Drake got a camo shark tattoo penned by Bang Bang. Rihanna placed her ink on her left ankle, while Drake had his tatted on his forearm.

Crown

Rihanna is seen outside Carbone on July 06, 2021 in New York City

GOTHAM/GC IMAGES

In 2021, fans noticed that the camo shark had seemingly been covered up by an elaborate crown wrapping around Rihanna’s left ankle.

“1988”

Rihanna, shoe and tattoo detail, attends the world premiere of "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 5, 2018 in New York City

TAYLOR HILL/GETTY

In honor of her birth year, Rihanna inked “1988” across the front side of her right ankle with the help of Bang Bang.

Maori-Inspired Art

Rihanna hand Tattoo

TIKI TAANE YOUTUBE

While on the Diamonds tour in 2013, the singer made a pit stop in New Zealand and got a traditional Polynesian design on her hand. Instead of using a needle, the tattoo artist used a mallet and chisel to apply the pigment.

Henna-Inspired Ink

Rihanna, clutch and tattoo detail, attends the world premiere of "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 5, 2018 in New York City

TAYLOR HILL/GETTY

To build on the Maori-inspired design, Bang Bang worked on Rihanna’s hand for 11 hours, resulting in an intricate Henna-like tattoo covering most of her right hand.

Large Cross

Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty x Harvey Nichols Launch at Harvey Nichols on September 19, 2017 in London, England

DAVID M. BENETT/DAVE BENETT/GETTY

On the underside of Rihanna’s wrist, Bang Bang penned an elaborate, large cross design to symbolize the singer’s faith.

Goddess Isis

Rihanna attends The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California

JON KOPALOFF/FILMMAGIC

Arguably one of Rihanna’s most iconic tattoos is the Goddess Isis on her ribcage. In 2012, she got the large ink added to pay homage to her late grandmother, who died that July.

Egyptian Queen Nefertiti

Rihanna attends the FENTY x Webster Pop-up Cocktail at The Webster on June 18, 2019 in New York City

DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/GETTY

Isis isn’t the only goddess Rihanna pays tribute to with her ink. The singer has a portrait of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti inked on her inner ribcage. Nefertiti is an iconic symbol of feminine beauty and power.

Falcon

Rihanna, shoe and tattoo detail, attends the world premiere of "Ocean's 8" at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 5, 2018 in New York City

TAYLOR HILL/GETTY

In June 2012, the singer had Bang Bang ink a falcon in the shape of a handgun on her right ankle. She wrote on Twitter about the symbolism, “​​’Falcon: a light that shines in the darkness! Never close their eyes during sleep.”

Tibetan Script

One tattoo from Rihanna’s collection that fans rarely see is the Tibetan script she has on her derrière. The ink loosely translates to “lover.”

“Thug Life”

Rihanna (tattoo detail) arrives at Los Angeles Opening of "Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour" at Staples Center on January 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California

GREGG DEGUIRE/FILMMAGIC

The singer inked a tribute to Tupac’s rap group Thug Life by emblazoning it across her knuckles.

“Rebelle Fleur”

Rihanna attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City

MIKE COPPOLA/MG18/GETTY

In 2010, Bang Bang penned “rebelle fleur” on the left side of her neck. The tattoo is a French term that translates to “rebel flower.”

Arabic Quote

Rihanna performs live on stage as part of her 777 tour at The Forum on November 19, 2012 in London, England

SIMONE JOYNER/WIREIMAGE

On the left side of her ribcage, the singer inked an Arabic quote that loosely translates to “freedom in God.”

Gun

Rihanna arrives at The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California

CHRISTOPHER POLK/WIREIMAGE

Bang Bang shared the story of how Rihanna ended up with a gun tattooed on her rib cage with Stylecaster in 2013.

“The gun, actually, started two years earlier. She was in the shop to get a tattoo on her forearm; she didn’t know what she wanted, she just knew she wanted a tattoo. I was like, “Get that gun!” She had a necklace on with a gun on it,” he said, adding that he got out of bed in the middle of the night to do the ink.

“Never a Failure, Always a Lesson”

Rihanna arrives at Rihanna's First Annual Diamond Ball at The Vineyard on December 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California

JON KOPALOFF/FILMMAGIC

Rihanna has “never a failure, always a lesson” tattooed just below her collarbone, though as Bang Bang told Stylecaster, it’s inked backward so she can read it to herself in the mirror.

The tattoo artist credits this specific inking with helping him realize the influence his and Rihanna’s creations have had. “You see girls now walking down the street with tattoos on their collarbones, and that’s because of Rihanna!” he explained.

Small Cross

Rihanna attends the BRIT Awards 2016 at The O2 Arena on February 24, 2016 in London, England

ANTHONY HARVEY/GETTY

Just across from her “never a failure, always a lesson” tattoo, the Fenty CEO inked a tiny cross that lays on her left collarbone.

Roman Numerals

Rihanna, fashion detail, attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City

MIKE COPPOLA/MG18/GETTY

The businesswoman doesn’t just pay tribute to herself on her canvas. She has a tattoo of her friend Melissa’s birthday on her left shoulder in roman numerals. Rumor has it they did it together, and Melissa got her birthday date — friendship goals.

“Love”

Rihanna (tattoo detail) attends the BRIT Awards 2016 at The O2 Arena on February 24, 2016 in London, England

LUCA TEUCHMANN/WIREIMAGE

One of her simpler tattoos is the word love written in cursive on her left middle finger.

Skull and Crossbones

A detail of the shoes worn by singer Rihanna at the 2008 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on November 23, 2008 in Los Angeles, California

FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY

The singer tends to put her own flare on her body work. Instead of just getting a standard skull and crossbones tattoo on her right angle, Rihanna gave the design a bespoke touch with a pretty red bow.

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