Polynesian symbolism, tattoos from the southsea and native marquesian culture

 polynesian tattoo, tattoo designs, meanings and their origin



Schema  |  Handcraft  |  Religion  |  Nature 




Origin of these patterns can often be found in other handcrafts of the Marquesians, predominantly in textiles. For example winding and plaiting. But there are also other inspirations like engravings.
An original element is a plain angle, which can create a lot of new patterns during modification. One of these patterns is niho peata, what means sharkteeth, which was tattooed very often. The following row shows its development.


These patterns are origin for new ornaments itfelves. If you put to rows of triangles together, you’ll get a new pattern called hiku-atu, what means bonitotail. This ornament can be modificated again in a lot of different ways.

Another modification of angles is the pattern called kofati. Here the angles are connected alternately the other way round. Patterns like this have their roots in textile plaitings. If you look at this ornament, you’ll easily realise that it looks like a plaited mat.

The last pattern here is chess. The illustration you can see here was tattooed all over a chief’s chest. It’s called umahoka. Uma is chest and hoka cn be translated with warrior or brave. So umahoka is warriors’ chest.

Chesspatterns are origin for new ornaments, too. But sometimes these patterns can’t be called chess anymore, because they look like dots or hatchings.
A very nice ornament is a chessline in two rows (te vehine náu). This one will be discussed more detailed in tattoo’s meanings.

We can see that chesspatterns are precursors of the all black areas called pepehipu. Later these chesspatterns were tattooed less often and replaced with all black areas.




















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Polynesian tatou, lots of examples and explanations