James Samuela's Moorea Tattoo - The Art of Polynesian Tattooing

James Samuela's Moorea Tattoo - The Art of Polynesian Tattooing

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Traditional Tattoo in Tahiti (continued)

The tools are made specifically for you, used only on you. It takes two artists to do traditional tattoo -- one to stretch the skin and the other to do the tat-tau-ing. Traditional tattooing was banned in 1986 by the Tahiti-based French Ministry of Health due to the difficulty in sterilizing the wooden and bone equipment but was allowed again in 2001. There are only seven artists left in Tahiti who still practice this art form. I happen to be one of them.

James Samuela tattooing in the traditional method of Polynesian tattoo

Polynesian Tattoos - Heavy in Symbolism

In ancient Tahitian society, tattoos represented one’s genealogy and social rank. There were symbols specific to certain families and symbols unique to various roles. For example, the tattoos of warriors would incorporate symbols different than those of fishermen. Today, Tahitian tattoos signify ones ancestors and interests. Each symbol takes on personal meaning. There are symbols that represent the sea and symbols of the land, stability, travel etc. A few commonly incorporated symbols include:

» Turtle = Fertility
» Dolphin = Wisdom
» Tiki = Protection

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Tahitian Tatoo Artist
Specializing in Traditional Tattoo - PK 32 cote montagne, haapiti-varari, moorea tel: +689.76.42.60 (cell) or +689.56.25.33
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