Polynesian symbolism, tattoos from the southsea and native marquesian culture

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The Marquesian Islands


1595. The Marquesian Islands appear in history for the first time. Adelantado Alonso Mendana de Neira discovers this archipelago. He started from Peru and arrived at Tahuata. His name for these islands is ”Las Islas Marquesas Don García Hurtado de Mendoza y Canete” in short the Marquesas, named after the ancient viceroy of Peru.
It’s kind of surprising, that these Islands, situated in the deepest east (apart from the Easter Islands), are the first to be discovered. New Zealand, much bigger than the Marquesas, was discovered much later in 1642 and just taken a short glance ad without landing. The discovery of the Marquesian Islands did not appear to be important in that time.


Almost 200 years later, in 1774, the Islands became a concern of researchers and James Cook starts exploring. Before that, the archipelago had been buried in oblivion, because of their isolation and inaccurate information about their location.
After Cook a lot of explorers followed and brought Deseases, Weapons and European lifestyle to the archipelago, which had intense influence for the Marquesas. The commencing proselytisation surpressed native culture, because a lot of native tradition was banned. Even tattooing was affectedby these sanctions.


Some of the islands are already inhabited for approx. 2300 years now. The archipelago was colonised with several waves. And the Marquesian Islands were the starting point of the colonisation of Hawaii, New Zealand and the Easter Islands.
Rapid increasement of the population let the number of inhabitants grow up to 35.000. Because of their isolated location the Marquesians are claiming that they are that far away, that the gods are their sole neighbours. That’s not that untrue. New Zealand is 5.000km far away, Australia even more than 6.000km.
Despite of their isolated location, a very vital culture developed, which could influence the whole Polynesian area. Dances, chantings and their religion spread over the other islands, because of migration. And finally the tattoo became popular all over the world.





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Polynesian tatou, lots of examples and explanations