Polynesian Tattoos

Gallery of Polynesian tattoos that can be filtered by subject, style, body part and size.

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Polynesia encompasses over 1,000 separate islands in the Pacific Ocean. The most prominent groups in the region with strong tattoo cultures are Samoan, Marquesan, Maori, Tahitian and Hawaiian, among others.

In Polynesia tattooing is a long and painful process but one that is thought to confer great honor upon the one tattooed. However, tattoo history in Polynesia is incredibly complex and nuanced. In almost every society, tattooing has been crucial to personal development and collective identity. Each culture and each tribe has a distinct aesthetic, carrying different social practices and traditions around tattooing, as well as a wide array of different symbols and sacred patterns.

The word β€œtattoo” is formed from a reduplication of the Polynesian word β€œta,” which means β€œto strike.”

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