Tattoos don’t necessarily carry the same edgy taboo they once did. But that’s not to say they can’t elicit a joyous, sinful response when observed rippling across tanned, retired wrestler flesh. Inquiring minds would like to know: just what is the story behind Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s tribal tattoos?

Themes of faith in his ancestors and obligation to his family — and a ferocious sense of pride in both — are personified in the athlete-turned-actor’s body art.

The Swirl Pattern

Cascading shapes intricately connect to create the actor’s largest piece of ink. The interlocked nature of the patterns personifies the past, present and future, as well as the faith the actor has in the latter. For The Rock, faith and family seem to forge. Prophetic words honor the ancestral past and embrace the future that promises to replace it: "it changes in the place where it is found to be gone.”

The Warrior Spirit

Placed intentionally across his chest, the warrior symbol is the central part of The Rock’s largest sleeve. As an adored WWE champion and Samoan American, The Rock’s pride in his inner warrior spirit is no unknown phenomenon. Its placement at the center of his largest tattoo only solidifies his strong sense of pride and undeniable presence. 

Sun & Coconut Leaves

In consistent homage paid to his heritage, the coconut leaves and sun weaved into Johnson's largest sleeve further the themes of great, regal pride in his Samoan chief-warrior identity.

The Taurus Bull

Still, for all of its intricate detail and hereditary importance, Johnson's warrior tattoo doesn't capture the story of his evolution quite as literally as the raging bull on his right arm. What began as a small, nondescript symbol of his zodiac sign, has been teased out into a toothy, haunting painting of a bull's skull, a transformation that mirrors Johnson's own progression from WWE performer to a decorated actor. 

Needless to say, The Rock takes immense, and visible, pride in his own roots. And he lets his ink do all the talking.