When we hear about Polynesia, the first thing that comes to mind is its paradisiacal islands and crystalline waters. Hawaii, New Zealand, and the attractive Easter Island make up this geographical triangle so exciting and exotic. To providing its visitors with a dream vacation, they are also the cradle of one of the most demanded tattoo categories in the world. Polynesian tattoos have their formal balance and that tribal air that makes them timeless. It can boast an undoubted aesthetic purity and contain very varied and interesting meanings.
If you are interested in knowing more details about the interesting world of Polynesian tattoos and their meanings, we recommend that you continue reading the following article.
Polynesian tattoos and their meanings
The first thing we should know is that despite forming a geographical unit. Each of the Polynesian islands has its own identity and customs that differentiate them from their neighbors. The same happens with tattoos because despite the similar appearance of some of them their meanings can become different.
Maori tattoos have always represented in the body of their bearers their social status. Their family lineage or ancestry and their qualities and values, highlighting those vital aspects. While men once tattooed their faces, buttocks, and legs while women tattooed their lips and chin. Today anyone can tattoo their favorite symbol wherever they want. We present some great Maori tattoos and their meaning.
The most popular Maori tattoos
If you are looking for Polynesian tattoos on the arm, shoulders, or other parts of the body. These popular Maori tattoos and their meaning can help you choose the perfect design:
Koru: It is a type of curved leaf that symbolizes, being a natural element that is part of nature, birth, and growth as well as the harmony or formal and spiritual balance of an individual.
Hei Matau: Hei Matau is a kind of hook. In ancient times, one of the main food sources of the tribes came through fishing, which is why this tattoo symbolizes wealth.
Hei Tiki: Hei Tiki symbolizes good luck and fertility. If you want to wear an amulet on your skin, this is an excellent option.
The sun: the star king, as in all cultures, represents leadership, determination, and success.
Manaia: Manaia is a deity with human and animal features (bird’s head and fish’s tail). The Manaia was considered granting protection to the sky, the earth, and the sea, so it represents a symbol of guard and protection. If you are looking for Polynesian shoulder tattoos, this option is one of the most popular.
The arrows: the arrows are one of the most chosen elements by those who wish to get tattooed. Covered by the most ardent warriors, the arrows symbolize courage and strength.
The ocean: the seas and oceans, in many cultures, symbolize the origin but also beyond. Tattooing an ocean is a transcendental and very spiritual symbol that opens doors to other spheres or worlds.
Animals: tell me which animal you tattoo and I will tell you who you are. Tattooing animals is very common in Maori culture. A turtle, for example, symbolizes calm and balance, while a whale’s tail symbolizes the strength of this great cetacean. Tattooing a shark’s teeth indicates a strong and protective spirit in the wearer.
Samoan tattoos and their meaning
The aesthetics of the Samoan tattoo is one of the most widespread and preferred by those who wish to adorn their body in a very striking and balanced way. Here are some of the best Samoan tattoos and their meaning:
Pe’ a: initially masculine, this tattoo has evolved and is now a favorite of both sexes. The Pe’ a tattoo is made up of geometric shapes that start at the navel and move to the calves without exceeding the knees. Its meaning is a very personal and used to be associated with family offspring.
Malú: unlike Pe’ a Malú began being exclusively a tattoo for women. Its design, a constellation of points extended throughout the body (especially affecting the legs), represents the stars and protects their wearers.
The sun: as in the case of Maori tattoos, it symbolizes leadership and strength, as well as wealth.
The spear: like Maori arrows, the spear symbolizes courage and strength. It is one of the best-known Polynesian arm tattoos, especially in the forearm area.
Flowers: this requested type of tattoo symbolizes, as in virtually every culture in the world, beauty, eternity and femininity. If you are looking for Polynesian tattoos on the back, flowers are a great option.
Tribal: as the name indicates, according to the form, the amount and the part of the body in which you tattoo. This type of tattoos indicated the tribe to which you belonged and the hierarchy or social status of which you were part. Today they have a purely aesthetic utility but, if you want to become tribal, you can always give it your meaning.
Hawaiian tattoos and their meaning
As in the case of the Maori and Samoan cultures, Hawaiian tattoos told the story, ancestry and individual characteristics of each member of a tribe. It used to provide spiritual protection throughout the cycle of their lives. Within the typology of Hawaiian tattoos, there are two main categories: that of the Etua tattoo (with mystical or religious meaning) and the Enata tattoo (more related to family origin). All of them are characterized, above all, by being of a rather geometric nature. In some of them, certain anthropomorphic and even animal forms are perceived. Let’s look at some of the most popular:
Hei Tiki: It is considered by Hawaiians as a protective deity that drives away evil spirits. He is considered “the first” on earth, something that in our culture could be translated as the “first man” or Adam.
Gecko: Like the Hei Tiki, this magical figure symbolizes protection. It is a type of lizard, as this reptile is very popular as a tattoo in Polynesian culture, as it symbolizes protection and health.
Sharks: sharks and their teeth symbolize protection and strength.
Turtles: these curious animals are associated with longevity and wisdom.
Conch shells: besides being the most beautiful, conch shells are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is one of the quintessential Polynesian arm tattoos because the shape of the conch fits perfectly into the space of this part of the body.
Orchids: The orchid, or a set of orchids, is a type of highly demanded tattoo that symbolizes passion, beauty, and love. Orchids are one of the great Polynesian tattoos on the shoulder, as the flowers can begin at that site and can be extended to the arm or forearm.