Rihanna’s Tattoos: From Stars To ‘Thug Life’

MTV News looks back at singer's extensive history with body art.

Rihanna had everyone buzzing this week when she debuted a tattoo with the words “Thug Life” scrolled across her famous fingers. The flesh-colored ink was done up by Los Angeles tat artist Mark Mahoney at the Shamrock Social Club parlor in Hollywood. While the body art pays tribute to late rapper Tupac , it is certainly not the first time that Rihanna has gotten a tattoo.

In fact, the singer is no novice. She’s already covered in ink, ranging from the sugary sweet to the more hard-core.

She made headlines back in 2009 when she debuted a gun tattoo on her rib cage. Rihanna’s tattoo was scandalous as it came only months after her Grammy-night altercation with her ex, Chris Brown. “People are going to react all different ways,” tat artist BangBang explained to MTV News at the time, noting that it had been in the works long before the incident. “She’s great. She’s perfect. We had a blast, and we had a lot of fun.”

BangBang and Rihanna have quite the history together when it comes to the many tats on her body. He is also responsible for the star tattoos on her back, the Roman numerals on her shoulder and the word “Shhh …
” on her finger.

But Rihanna hasn’t stopped there. She has also been branded with a musical note on her ankle, a Pisces sign behind her right ear, the word “love” on her middle finger and a tribal tattoo on her hand. She reportedly has the birthday of her manager Melissa Forde written in Roman numerals on her shoulder: XI-IV-LXXXVI. As an homage to her perfume line she also has the French words for rebellious flower, “rebelle fleur,” on her neck.

The singer also has a Sanatana Dharma Sanskrit prayer on her right hip.

Reportedly misspelled, the phrase was supposed to mean “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control,” but actually ends up meaning “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness.”

On her rib cage, she also has the Arabic phrase “Al Hurria fi Al Maseeh,” which means “Freedom in God.” Proving to be some sort of billboard for sage advice, she also has the motto “Never a Failure, Always a Lesson” scrolled across her collarbone.
Other Ri tats include a star in her ear and a skull and cross bone on her ankle.

In fact, Rihanna loves tattoos so much that in July 2009, she was spotted giving BangBang a tattoo at New York’s East Side Ink, where he works. Owner Yadira said at the time, “We had a blast. It was so funny and cute.”

When BangBang spoke to MTV News in 2009, he added this philosophy when it comes to tatting the singer: “You don’t want to be staring at tats. You want to be staring at her face.”