Polynesian style of tattooing


The first Polynesian tattoo appeared in the third millennium BC in the archipelago of the Solomon Islands in Santa Cruise. That is where the Lapita culture existed. This culture is significant with its ceramic works of art which have an unordinary shape, structure and style of decoration. They look like different figures, made of many lines and curves. These interesting motifs could be seen and in the Polynesian tattoos.

Women from the Polynesian tribes painted their lips in black and sometimes drew black dots on their favorite places of the body. They even tattooed their chins. Men tattooed numbers on their bodies almost every day till their death. The numbers started from their faces and reached their knees. Their whole body was covered with tattoos.

Back in those days, tattooing was not only a decoration. It carried a lot of information about its owner like his social status, the tribe he was born in, his origin, some of his important feats and many others. All of these things could be seen on his body.

The chieftains from the Marquesas Islands and all the people who were close to them were covered with tattoos all over their bodies. The other people from the tribe were allowed to have only a few small tattoos. An interesting method for tattooing was the Mokko tribes’ tattooing. The way of tattooing the body was by flourishing and the way of tattooing the face – cutting.


The tattooing of the people from the Mokko tribe was affected by different aspects of their life. They did wood carving and their tattoos looked very similar to the carved wood with which they decorated their homes.

In the Oceania islands, the tattoo was considered to be sacred, because only the priests were allowed to make tattoos. People who wanted to become tattooists went to learn the art in a special place. Their training sometimes lasted for months.

The most common elements that were used in the tattoo designs were lines, spirals, curves, circles. All the designs were made symmetrical.


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