Unpacking the five main Polynesian tattoo styles: Samoan, Marquesan, Tahitian, Hawaiian, and Maori tattoos.
Presenting over 400 symbols and variants with their meanings.
Fully illustrated with more than 550 images, with 15 original tattoos deconstructed and explained.
This book explains the main Polynesian styles of tattooing, presenting each of them with a historical and cultural introduction, highlighting the traditional symbols and their meanings. Fifteen original designs and their stories are examined, showing how to identify and understand their building elements and explaining how they interact with each other to compose a meaningful tattoo.
All the original tattoos are broken up into their main parts, outlined for clearer identification. The main parts are then inspected further, revealing the basic building elements and symbols, grouped by meaning.
This book comes as an in-depth follow-up to The POLYNESIAN TATTOO Handbook and it extends the study of Polynesian tattoo styles and designs to help understand their origins and purpose, their symbolism, and their creation guidelines.
Whether or not someone is very knowledgeable about the history of the Polynesian people or their distinctive traditions of tattooing, there is a great deal of insight provided in this book that will inform the reader and provide a great deal of examples of Polynesian-influenced tattoos. Readers who are aware of the spread of Austronesian peoples and languages throughout Oceania will find the beginning of the book to be a bit of a review, and at times the author repeats aspects of discussion that are most important to him – such as his distaste that the conversion of Tahiti and Hawaii to Christianity led to a neglect of the traditional arts of tattooing in those places that were reflective of the pre-Christian religious beliefs of the Polynesian people. Nevertheless, this book is particularly useful in providing readers with insight onto the religious and cultural significance of tattoos in the various Polynesian cultures. It also provides some creative ways in which these particular traditions can be blended with other cultural traditions to pay respect to one's heritage, as well as to show a regard for one's appreciation of Polynesian culture.
This book is about 200 pages in length and is well-organized to provide a historical survey of the phenomenon of Polynesian tattoo art. The author begins with a preface and then provides a short history of the expansion of the Polynesian people over the past four to five thousand years. After that the author spends most of the book examining the five distinct tattoo traditions of the Polynesian people: Samoan, Marquesan, Tahitian, Hawaiian, and Maori, providing examples of the native tattoo traditions for both men and women, some aspects of class or other cultural influence that affected the use of tattoos, a detailed discussion of the symbolism and design of various elements of the particular tattoo tradition, and an example of an upper back manta, half-sleeve, and band tattoo for each particular local tradition. After these chapters, which include some laments about the loss of tattoo tradition (but also the flexibility of contemporary approaches) in the Tahitan and Hawaiian traditions, the author then concludes with a chapter on fusion tattoos that combine Polynesian elements with tattoo symbols from other cultures that reflect the ancestry and background of the person getting the tattoos.
Among the most praiseworthy aspects of this book is not only the interest the author has in discussing the influence of history and geography on the development of distinct tattoo traditions on different parts of Polynesia but also with the author's thoughtful and mild opinions relating to the thorny issues of cultural appropriation. While acknowledging the influence of religion, class, and gender on the sorts of tattoos that people got, as well as the most popular symbolism contained in those tattoos, the author takes a charitable view of those outsiders to Polynesian culture who would wish to honor it through adapting some of their symbols to personal use. The author manages to do so while defending the importance of Polynesian people themselves using their own family symbols as a way of giving honor to their own culture. In stark contrast to those who think that all attempts by outsiders to use a particular cultural expression as negatively-viewed appropriation, the author recognizes that the viability and survival of Polynesian tattoo techniques can be furthered by having the historical symbols of the Polynesian people appreciated and spread to outsiders as well, a thoughtful strategy for cultural survival, it must be admitted, that is in stark contrast to the approach of many in our present age.
I read a wide variety of books, usually reviewing three a day, from diverse sources, including indie presses and self-publishing, and I enjoy talking about unfamiliar authors and introducing them to my blog audience.