The word tattoo comes from Polynesia. In Marquesan it is tatu. This amazing part of Marquesan culture was nearly lost after it was banned by Catholic missionaries and outlawed by the state. We were lucky enough to attend a festival in Taiohae dedicated to passing along the beautiful traditions of tattooing, sculpture, painting, and dance as artists and apprentices come to display their work and learn.
The Marquesans proudly and joyfully share their language and traditions with any who are interested. Each tattoo is a personal story of the individual wearing it; as unique as their life. Marquesan tattooing is amazing in its intricacies. A symbol’s meaning can alter subtly depending on its position on the body, location in the tattoo, and it’s relationship to other symbols. It is humbling to be able to wear their symbols and designs and bear the marks of our lives so far.
You can rent the above documentary to learn more.
Our tattoos were designed and tattooed by Moana in Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva.