Polynesian Tattoo Meanings

Tattooing is one of the earliest visual art forms and has served as a means of self-expression for thousands of years. The far and wide popular skill of tattoo design is believed to have an origin from the Pacific Rim and southeast area. Researches show that the word “tattoo” must have originated from the tribal languages of this area. Polynesians used the word “tatao” which meant to tap. Even the other influential tribe Tahitians used the word “tatu” which meant to mark something. The modern word to describe the art of graving symbols and art designs on the skin came to be known as “tattoo.

Polynesian tribal tattoos comprise highly complex and comprehensive designs pursuing a historical art. One of the most popular Polynesian tattoo art would be the Hawaiian, Samoan, Maori and also Aztecs. Each of them has their own personal tribal patterns which are recognizable to them.The Polynesian tattoo meanings make them even more enigmatic and appealing. Here, i will be commenting on the two most famous styles – the Maori and Samoan

Polynesian Tattoo Meanings

Maori Tattoo

The art of the Maori tattoo was originally brought by the Maori’s to New Zealand from their homelands in Eastern Polynesia. Back in the history, when Captain James Cook and the naturalist Joseph Banks were on their voyage to the South Pacific, noticed the complex tattoos of the Maori tribesmen.  They really became fascinated and captivated by it.

Maori tattoo designs were traditionally practiced by native Maoris from New Zealand and have been with them for more than a thousand years. Maori tattoo are relatively original and also have their own unique identity when compared to its Polynesian equivalents. They’re seen as a particular individual lines and repetition of particular themes and shapes. These tattoos mainly comprise of curve linear and typically based upon spirals.

The main practicing of Maori tattoo was identified as “moko”. This technique was done by carving skin using chisels as a substitute for being punctured and was very painful. These tattoo designs were used to symbolize status to the rank inside of the community.  Usually these tattoos were done on the face, thighs but also buttocks or the areas that were prominently seen. If a person would like a traditional Maori tattoo pattern, he needs to come across. However it’s not the same technique in the modern times. If you are planning to get a Maori tattoo soon, you need to look for a tattoo artist who makes a specialty of it. With the modern tattooing techniques this is obviously simpler to the traditional methods practiced earlier. The cultural designs act as inspirational subject for the modern day tattoo lovers.

Maori tattoos can easily be distinguished from other tribal designs as they use bold lines and have a repetition of specific designs. These tattoos have big contribution in the history and culture of the Polynesian people.

A traditional Maori tattoo artist can produce two different types of pattern. Primarily, one is based on a pigmented line, and another one is based on darkening the background and leaving the pattern un-pigmented as clear skin. The essential component of a Maori tattoo is the spiral pattern and the curvy liner designs. Unlike the modern tattooing techniques the Maori people used specially designed knives and chisels for carving these designs.

Samoan tattoo

Traditionally, the word tattoo has originated from the Samoan tribal word “tatau”. The modern day translation of this word would be to carve permanent designs on the skin with when hit with a sharp tool.  Samoan tattoos can be characterized simply by the dense shading along with fine parallel-lines mixed with a number of motifs along with geometric patterns such as squares, dots and as well as rectangles.  Similar to the Maori tattoos, these tattoos were also carved as the symbols to recognize particular rank inside the Samoan community.  These tattoo patterns often covered the large area of the body including the back, arms and legs. These tattoos are a real symbolic representation of the Samoan tradition and undoubtedly a cultural marker of their cultural art.

Samoan tribe mainly persisted near the Pacific island of Samoa. The traditional tattooing art was carried out by dipping the pointed teeth of combs into ink and piercing them through the surface of the skin. The comb was then tapped so that the teeth punctured the skin, inserting the ink. These tattoo designs had elaborated patterns and generally took several months for completion. This art form was common among both men and women as they had different patterns for both the sexes.  The biggest difference among Maori tattoos and Samoan tattoos was that Samoan tattoos were mainly restricted to the lower part of the body.

By tradition, Samoan tattoos were generally very large and denoted the social status and rank of the man or woman who wears it.in the modern world, Samoan tattoos are receiving a lot of attention and are becoming a popular tattoo design. There are several reasons for the popularity of these design such the complex patterns and bold lines. . The earlier cultural designs covered almost half of a man’s body.  The patterns use to start from just under the ribcage, and continued down to the ankles. Whereas, in the case of a woman these tattoo designs ended up till the tip of hands.

Samoan tattoo patterns are highly meaningful. You can tell just by looking at a Samoan tattoo, even without knowing what its precise meaning is. The tattoo patterns and symbols are very complex with a lot of interlocked, interwoven shapes and patterns.

In Samoa’s cultural past most males were tattooed between the ages of 14-18, when it was determined they had stopped growing, so the designs would not stretch and suffer in beauty. Today, there has been a strong revival of traditional tattooing in the past generation, not only in Samoa but throughout Polynesia, often as a symbol of cultural identity. As mentioned before, they are also remarkable because of the sheer expanse of skin that they occupy.

Leave a Reply

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