The first tattoo
The first tattoo, young teens got, was usually at the age of 12 up to
15. The date depended on the chiefís sonís age, because his peergroup
was tattooed together with him. Thatís why these dates where the
possibility for other natives of the village to get or to complete their
tattoos. Sons of the chief together with their peers are called Kaori (a
bunch of bachelors), who have got a special social status.
When there where these special dates the tuhuna was paid by the chief
otherwise the tuhuna had to be paid by the natives themselves. Thatís
the reason why only rich villagers had got tattoos, because they were
the only ones, who could afford one. Poorer villagers could only afford
tuhunas without routine so they were used as a kind of tattootraining .
Insignias and privileges
After tattooing was commenced new ornaments where added in different
intervals. This process can last up to 35-40 years, until the whole body
is tattooed. The most extensive tattoos belonged to the chiefs, who
where accepted most in Polynesian society. Sometimes the body was that
full of ornaments, so that there was no more natural skin to see. Often
tattoos where added shortly after fights or wars as a kind of souvenir
or symbol for fame.
But this distinction of position and fame changed. Weath and vanity
became the main factors, because no one was excluded from the tuhunaís
work if he could pay him. By the way tattooed persons had got a special
privilege, which women, children and not tattooed persons had not: They
were allowed to eat humanflesh.