Polynesian symbolism, tattoos from the southsea and native marquesian culture

 polynesian tattoo, tattoo designs, meanings and their origin



Tuhuna  |  Reasons  |  Tools  |  Significance  


Art of tattoo

The Tuhuna

Names for the tattoomasters vary in the different areas. But most of the names are linguistically related. In New Zealand he is called Tohunga, in Samoa Tuhunga. As the different names, the social role of the Tuhuna varies too. If we take the same example: the tattooist in New Zealand is supposed to be a priest, while Samoan masters are carpenters. But the both of them take a high charge for their tattoo services.
The meaning, which is the same in all of the words, matches our meaning of the word master.

On the Marquesian Is. the Tuhuna is member of the second class of priests. The pontifex was the taua, who was divine and sacred. He had got a lot of differend tasks like preparing oblations, ceremonies, sacred chanting, the ritual drums, funerals and small surgeries. He was also keeper of the old traditions. He was the one, who conserved old rituals and traditions and teached them to the next generation.

The Tuhuna initiates and closes the act of tattoing with sacrifices and weares sacred juwellery. But tattooing changed in the course of time. Former only reserved as a priviledge for the chief’s sons, more and more parts of the populations are tattooed, if they can afford the Tuhuna. That’s why the old rituals became less relevant and are just done some kind of mechanically by the masters of tattooing.
Besides the Tuhunas work on human skin there where some more artworks like carvings in stone, wood, bones, tortoiseshell and basketwork. On the marquesians the tattoomaster often was called tuhuka patu tiki what means master of picture tapping.







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Polynesian tatou, lots of examples and explanations