Art of tattoo
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.