South Pacific/Island tattoos are a group of traditional tattoo art forms that originated in the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and Fiji. These tattoos are steeped in rich cultural and spiritual significance and are deeply ingrained in the practices and beliefs of the indigenous people of the islands.

South Pacific/Island tattoos are created using a technique known as hand-tapping or traditional tattooing, which involves using a comb-like tool made from natural materials, such as bones or shells, to tap the ink into the skin. This technique is labor-intensive and often results in intricate, bold designs that cover large portions of the body.

The designs and motifs used in South Pacific/Island tattoos vary depending on the island and cultural group. For example, Hawaiian tattoos (Tatau) are characterized by intricate, abstract designs that often incorporate nature-inspired motifs such as sharks, turtles, and flowers, while Samoan tattoos (Tatau) are known for their bold, geometric patterns that often cover large areas of the body.

South Pacific/Island tattoos have a long and rich history that is deeply connected to the culture and beliefs of the indigenous people. The tattoos played a significant role in the rites of passage, such as coming-of-age ceremonies or marking a person’s social status within their community.  According to legend, two Samoan women, Taema and Tilafaiga, traveled to Fiji and returned with the tattooing instruments and skills they learned there.  This sparked the practice of Tatau in Samoa, and it quickly became a highly valued and respected art form.

The arrival of European colonizers in the Pacific Islands had a significant impact on the practice of traditional tattooing, and in some cases, the art form was suppressed or outlawed. However, a resurgence of interest in traditional tattoos occurred in the mid-20th century, spurred on by the revival of interest in Polynesian culture and the development of tourism in the region.

Today, South Pacific/Island tattoos remain an important cultural tradition and are celebrated worldwide for their beauty and spiritual significance. Contemporary interpretations of the traditional designs and techniques can now be found, reflecting the continued evolution of this rich and vibrant art form.

If you would like to inquire further or book a time, email [email protected] to start yourself on the journey to getting your own Polynesian Tatau today!