The Polynesian Culture
There is still debate about the definitive origins of Polynesian Culture and the notion of tattooing. One thing is certain, the term ´Polynesian´ incorporates many tribes or people: Cook Islanders, Niuuens, Tongans, Samoans, Marquesians, Tahitians, Hawaiïans, Maori and Easter Islanders.
In turn, Polynesia is a soub-region of Oceania, consisting of a large group of more than 1000 islands scattered over the central and Southern Pacific Ocean, in a triangle that encompasses New Zealand, the Island Hawaiï and Easter Island.
The people who live the islands of Polynesia are called Polynesians and they share many similar traits, including language, culture and beliefs.
The tattoo that is practiced all over the world today has various origins, but the etymological of the word is Polynesian.
Indeed, the art of tattooing is intrinsically linked to the Polynesian culture. Translate what is deepest in man. It is the image that dates back to the dawn of time.
The tattoo had been transmitted by ancients, divinized ancestors, gods and we had to be dignified, prepare themselves physically.
To divert this art and it’s motives from their original destination was certainly to risk their courage.
The history of tattooing is very difficult to trace because even if it's an ancestral practice, it can not yet be accurately located in time. It’s practice would be born about 1500 years ago. 3300 before JC: Ötzyu or Ice Age is the oldest human, 5300 years old (living at this time), on which we can witness the presence of tattoos.
Shortly after the discovery of Polynesia in 1797, missionaries considered the art of tattooing as a "barbaric and pagan" because of the techniques of the time when sharks teeth or tattooed bones were used and it was banned.
Samoan Islands are an exception in the region since it’s the only Polynesian territory that has not had any interruption of tattooing and where tattoo artists (Tufuga ta tatau) are, still today, a traditional trade that justified its ritual and technical prerogatives by resorting To the original tattoo myths and family genealogies. Elsewhere in Polynesia, the different foreign and various presences (escpecially missionaries) led to the abondonment of the traditional tattooing except in the Samoan Islands.
In ancient Samoa, the tattoo artist held a heredity and by the same vein, a privileged position.
About 200 Samoan and Tongan travelers settled in the Marquesas region. For more than 1000 years, one of the Polynesian cultures evolved, The Marquisan.
Marquesan art and culture, which often covered the whole body, were the most elaborate in Polynesia.
All Polynesian tattoos are considered sacred
Several legends talk about Polynesian tattooing, including Mataroa and Niwareka at the Maori, Hina Ere Ere Manua and the brothers Mata Mata Arahu and Tu Ra'i Po, sons of the god Ta'aroa in french Polynesia, forming a common trunk around LOVE.
We thererfore speak of divine origins. This dimension is extraordinarily important in it's practice.