Can you get a polynesian tattoo if you're not polynesian? (2023)

Asked by: Mr. Kade Cole I

Score: 4.2/5 (18 votes)

CAN A NON-POLYNESIAN GET A POLYNESIAN TATTOO? Yes, and no. Polynesian tattoos basically use two kind of symbols and patterns: some of them are considered tapu, which means "sacred", while others are considered noa, or "common, not sacred".

Do all Polynesians get tattoos?

The Origins of Tattoo Art in Polynesia

Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed. The Polynesian islands that were first first visited were the Marquesas Islands, which were found by European explorers and the Spanish navigator, Alvaro de Mendana de Neira, in 1595.

Can anyone get a tribal tattoo?

Ideally, if you're considering a tribal tattoo, it's part of your culture, ethnicity, and heritage. In which case, it's not a problem. If it's not part of your heritage, but you have a full and comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the meaning and significance of tribal tattoos, it can also be ok.

Is it disrespectful to get a Samoan tattoo?

DO POLYNESIAN PEOPLE CONSIDER DISRESPECTFUL IF OTHERS GET A POLYNESIAN TATTOO? No, and yes. It depends on how you approach Polynesian art and, ultimately, culture. Plain copying someone else's tattoo is always disrespectful, because you are stealing their own story.

Is it disrespectful to get a Native American tattoo?

Native American tattoos – to get a tattoo that depicts either Native Americans or any of the Native American symbolism (Indian headdress, dreamcatchers, and feathers, spiritual animals like eagle or bear, etc.), without belonging to the culture, heritage, and tradition, is considered offensive and disrespectful.

(Video) Is it Disrespectful for Nonpolynesians to get Polynesian Tattoos?

16 related questions found

How painful is a Polynesian tattoo?

Tattoos Were Painful - Even Deadly

Not only did these tattoos take a long time to complete, but they were also extremely painful. Depending on the part of the body, the process could be excruciating. It took a lot of courage and endurance and required recuperation between sessions.

What do triangles mean in Hawaiian tattoos?

These triangles are a symbol of teeth, usually of a shark. ... When triangles are assorted this way they represent the spear. The spear is significant in ancient Hawaii because it represents both life and death. A spear represents life in that it is used to hunt, both on land and in the sea.

How long do Polynesian tattoos take?

I would say the average tattoo takes about 20-60 minutes. Traditional tattoos can take up to double the amount of time.

What kind of tattoo does Dwayne Johnson have?

Dwayne Johnson is documenting progress on his latest revamp for his bicep bull tattoo. The Jungle Cruise actor, 49, shared several photos on Instagram over the weekend tracking hours of inking on his right arm as he updated his iconic bull tattoo. "Evolution of the Bull tattoo is almost complete," he wrote on Friday.

(Video) Nonpolynesians Getting Polynesian Tattoos

What are Polynesian tattoos called?

Historically, tattoos were hand-tapped and are known as “uhi”. Polynesians would use a “moli” or tattoo tool and dip it in “paʻu” or ink and begin to tap onto the skin.

What is an aumakua in Hawaiian?

In Hawaiian mythology, an ʻaumakua (/ʔaʊmɑːˈkuə/; often spelled aumakua, plural, 'aumākua) is a personal or family god that originated as a deified ancestor, and which takes on physical forms such as spirit vehicles. ... Some families had many ʻaumākua. Mary Kawena Pukui's family had at least fifty known ʻaumākua.

What is the meaning of Hawaiian tattoos?

Kakau is the name of the traditional tattoo art of the Hawaiian Islands. This traditional style represents protection, war hula, and honoring the Gods. It is also a representation of your family ancestors and honors their traditions and values. ... This traditional art form still lives on today.

What is a Hawaiian tattoo called?

This was the Native Hawaiian traditional art of tattooing or kākau, performed by the only Hawaiian who has received the honor of conducting this ceremony, Kahuna Kā Uhi (Uhi Master), Keli'i Makua. ...

(Video) Part: 1 Non Cultural Appropriation With Polynesian Tattoos!

Is The Rock's tattoo Samoan?

Johnson's Polynesian chest and arm tattoo was done in early 2003, by a famous Tahitian tattoo artist named Po'oino Yrondi, on a trip to Hawaii the then-30-year-old took to have his family history inked on his body—a Samoan tradition. ...

How Polynesian tattoos are done?

Polynesian tattoo artists use a manual technique with a tattooing comb or handmade needle. The comb or needle (often made with shark teeth), is then tapped into the skin to deposit the ink. Many Polynesian tattoo artists still prefer manually tattooing people rather than using a tattoo gun or another tool.

Is Polynesian tattoo tribal?

They are all tribal in style and all have meanings related to the relationship between being an individual and being part of a tribe and lineage of ancestors. However, these tattoo styles come in many different variations. Each group of Polynesian people has its own tattoo designs that are unique to their culture.

What is the Hawaiian symbol for love?

Tropical flowers are also associated with Hawaiian tattoo designs and have symbolic meanings. Here are a few: Orchid: The orchid is a beautiful native flower that represents love, beauty, luxury, and magnificence. Those who choose the orchid tattoo are thought to be unique, free-spirited, and mysterious.

How do Hawaiians earn their tattoos?

Among this year's expo headliners is Hawaii-based tattooist Keone Nunes, who practices the Hawaiian method of kakau, or hand-tapping. His tools are similar to ones used thousands of years ago—tools made from dense wood and animal tusk. And like the name suggests, the designs are hand-tapped onto the skin.

(Video) Can Foreigners Get Polynesian Tattoos?

Why are Polynesian tattoos important?

In ancient Polynesian society, nearly everyone was tattooed. It was an integral part of ancient Tahitian culture and was much more than a body ornament. Tattooing indicated ones genealogy and/or rank in society. It was a sign of wealth, of strength and of the ability to endure pain.

What does pueo mean in Hawaiian?

1. n. Hawaiian short-eared owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis), regarded often as a benevolent ʻaumakua (HM 124). Keiki a ka pueo, child of an owl [one whose father is not known].

What is the Hawaiian spirit animal?

An 'aumakua could manifest itself in varying forms such as a shark, a sea turtle, a hawk, a lizard, a pueo (owl) or any other animal, plant or mineral. Members of the family were said to recognize their 'aumakua, no matter what form it chose, whether it be an insect on land or a crab in the ocean the following day.

What does Turtle mean in Hawaiian?

Turtles are one of the oldest creatures on earth. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known as “Honu,” symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life. Turtles can show up as a person's guardian spirit, known as “Aumakua.” When lost, turtles are excellent navigators and often find their way home.

What is the Polynesian symbol for strength?

Based on their characteristics and on myths and legends, sharks (and therefore the shark teeth motifs used to represent them) are symbolic of strength, guile, protection and guidance. Triangles are an ubiquitous element in Polynesian art and the simplest, most common way to represent shark teeth.

(Video) Can Foreigners get Polynesian Tattoos?

What does the the Bible say about tattoos?

The verse in the Bible that most Christians make reference to is Leviticus 19:28, which says,"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord." So, why is this verse in the Bible?


Can you get a polynesian tattoo if you're not polynesian? ›

Even if you aren't an islander, you can still get a Polynesian tattoo. However, it's often frowned upon if you simply replicate somebody else's tattoo down to its minor details.

Can I get a Polynesian tattoo without being Polynesian? ›

Of the old kekau Jake Galves, originally of Oahu and living his last nine years in Hilo, said, “It's okay for non-locals to have the traditional Polynesian tattoo, so long as they have an understanding of what they have on their body.

Is it OK to get tribal tattoos? ›

Tribal tattoos have a deep meaning for people that are part of the culture they come from. Tattooing such sacred designs on you when you aren't from that culture can be considered cultural appropriation and is damaging to the people and traditions of that culture.

Who gets tattooed in Polynesian cultures and why? ›

The Origins of Tattoo Art in Polynesia

Tattoos would indicate status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and ones rank within the society. Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed.

What does it mean to have a Polynesian tattoo? ›

The tiki design is a famous Polynesian tattoo design that comes in the form of human-like faces. They are often received as semi-gods or deified ancestors, such as chiefs or priests. They are symbols of protection, fertility and are guardians over the wearers.

Is it acceptable to get a Polynesian tattoo? ›

Should I Get A Polynesian Tattoo? Even if you aren't an islander, you can still get a Polynesian tattoo. However, it's often frowned upon if you simply replicate somebody else's tattoo down to its minor details.

Is it appropriate to get a Polynesian tattoo? ›

This values for Polynesian tattoos as well as for any other. Creating a Polynesian tattoo that tells your own story and being able to say what it represents, shows that you acknowledge and respect the importance of such tattoo and therefore it is not seen as disrespectful.

How much is a Polynesian tattoo? ›

On average, I would say people spend about $350-500 USD for a regular tattoo. Traditional Polynesian Tattoo Prices: The starting price for a traditional tattoo is 60,000xpf (about $600 USD). The reason for the difference in price has to do with the amount of labor involved.

Are Filipino and Polynesian tattoos the same? ›

Fun fact: Filipino and Polynesian have almost identical tattoo cultures. Same application, same right of passage and use similar elements as motifs.

What Polynesian tattoos are sacred? ›

In Maori culture, the facial tattoo (moko) was most significant, as the head is considered the most sacred part of the body. Only Maori with noted social status were allowed to don such tattoos, which were given to them by men called tohunga tā moko (“tattoo specialists”).

What are the 5 Polynesian tattoo styles? ›

Among the 5 main Polynesian tattoo styles, Maori, Samoan, Marquesan and Hawaiian are the most traditional ones, while the Tahitian tattoo style has evolved from them to shape a new, more figurative style that often includes realistic elements to achieve the 'wow' factor that contributed to their present popularity.

Who are considered Polynesians? ›

Polynesia comprises American Samoa; the Cook Islands; French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, and Wallis and Futuna. The Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand, anchor this region to the north and south, respectively, with Native Hawaiians and Maori as their indigenous populations.

What do triangles mean in Polynesian tattoos? ›

A: In Hawaiian tattoos, triangles often symbolize the three main elements of nature: land, sea, and sky. They can also represent the male, female, and spiritual aspects of life, or the past, present, and future.

What do Native Americans think about tattoos? ›

What did tattoos symbolize in American Indian culture? The art of the tattoo was used differently depending on the tribe, but it was considered a sacred and spiritual ritual across Native American society. Individuals were often marked with symbols of protection and guardian spirit emblems.

What does the the Bible say about tattoos? ›

But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.” Historically, scholars have often understood this as a warning against pagan practices of mourning.

Is it OK to get a Sanskrit tattoo? ›

Sanskrit is a beautiful language—that's why so many people choose to have their tattoos written with its text. Sanskrit tattoos are great for men who want to honor their Hindu culture and those who feel a strong connection to the culture and religion.

How painful is a Polynesian tattoo? ›

Not only did these tattoos take a long time to complete, but they were also extremely painful. Depending on the part of the body, the process could be excruciating. It took a lot of courage and endurance and required recuperation between sessions. It also took courage because getting the tattoo was risky.

Who can get a Samoan Tatau? ›

Tatau is the name given to a traditional tattoo for men. It is a dense pattern which completely covers the lower body from the waist to the knee. After having it done, a young man is not only accepted as a full member of the aumaga (untitled men), but is also allowed to serve the matai (chiefs).

Can you get a traditional Hawaiian tattoo? ›

If you're interested in getting a traditional Hawaiian tattoo, you're in luck. There are many fantastic tattoo shops in Wahiawa that offer beautiful and meaningful traditional Hawaiian designs. But before you make an appointment, it's important to learn about the history and significance of these tattoos.

Does it hurt to get Samoan tattoo? ›

Although tattoos are typically associated with pain, the Pe'a is on a whole different level. The “tapping” method consists of the tufuga using serrated bone combs attached to tortoiseshell fragments with a mallet to drive the combs into the skin. The process is slow, meticulous, and painful.

How do Hawaiians feel about tattoos? ›

Additionally, the act of receiving a tattoo was considered a sacred ritual in ancient Hawaiian culture, and the process was often accompanied by ceremonies and prayers. Today, Hawaiian tattoos continue to be a meaningful and significant aspect of Hawaiian culture and identity.

Do Polynesian tattoos tell a story? ›

Tattoos, and all visual arts from Polynesia, always served the important purpose of being visual aids to a narrative, be it a personal story tattooed on skin, or a historical deed passed on orally from one generation to the next through the centuries.

How big is a $500 tattoo? ›

Tiny TattoosUnder 2 inches$50 - $100
Small Tattoos2-4 inches$50 - $250
Medium Sized Tattoos4-6 inches$150 - $450
Large Single-Piece Tattoos4-6 inches$500 - $5,000
1 more row
Jan 29, 2022

Is $200 a lot for a tattoo? ›

Typically in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the size and other factors. If you're looking for a piece of flash, you can often walk into a shop and find out right away what the tattoo costs.

Is $200 for a tattoo expensive? ›

The average cost for a small tattoo like a heart or cross is $80 to $200. For a medium-sized tattoo like a traditional , expect to spend between $ 200. to $450. Hiring a tattoo artist typically costs $150 to $250 per hour, and prices depend on skill level and demand of Tattooist.

What does shark teeth Polynesian tattoo mean? ›

Sharks are regarded as fearless hunters, powerful creatures that dominate the oceans. Based on their characteristics and on myths and legends, sharks (and therefore the shark teeth motifs used to represent them) are symbolic of strength, guile, protection and guidance.

What does the Tiki tattoo mean in Polynesian culture? ›

Half-man, half-god, the Tiki symbolizes a mythical character who created human beings. Polynesians used to worship and fear it. Rather stocky, its arms are usually resting on its stomach its his head is often out of proportion compared to the rest of the body.

Why do Filipinos have Polynesian tattoos? ›

Traditionally, the tattoo process among Pacific Islanders, including those of the Philippines and Polynesia, is an art form signifying a right of passage, as well as a way to preserve ancient history and practices.

What is the Polynesian symbol for healer? ›

The piko is also known as the healers symbol. It symbolizes the center of all energy or the navel of mother earth. The piko has a point which represents the exit of your energy. If the point is facing your heart you are healing yourself, when it points away from your heart your healing others.

What does a Polynesian tattoo mean for family? ›

The Tahitian tapa'au symbol representing a braided cord symbolizesfamily unity and tradition. The kapua'i Hawaiian motif represents the footsteps of the ancestors. The ritorito symbol represents the central shoot of the flax plant (rito), which is a representation of family in Maori traditions.

What does a Polynesian lotus flower tattoo mean? ›

Polynesian sea turtle with a lotus flower. The flower symbolizes overcoming all difficulties and the turtle symbolizes strength, stability and protection.

What makes you a Polynesian? ›

The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are called Polynesians. They have many things in common, including language relatedness, cultural practices, and traditional beliefs. In centuries past, they had a strong shared tradition of sailing and using stars to navigate at night.

How much does a traditional Polynesian tattoo cost? ›

The starting price for a regular tattoo is approximately 15,000xpf (about $150 USD). On average, I would say people spend about $350-500 USD for a regular tattoo.

Is it illegal to have a tattoo behind your ear in Hawaii? ›

In Hawaii, it's illegal to have a tattoo behind your ear, unless it is done under the supervision of a registered physician.

What is the tattoo law in Hawaii? ›

The Legal Age for Tattoos in Hawaii Is 18

According to Hawaii Revised Statutes section 563-1.5, it is illegal for anyone to tattoo a minor under the age of 18 in Hawaii. This law applies to all tattoo studios and artists operating in the state.

What is the most common Hawaiian tattoo? ›

The tattoo designs often feature images of frangipani or hibiscus flowers, two of the most popular Hawaiian flower symbols representing femininity. Other common motifs include birds and sea creatures like dolphins, which symbolize freedom and movement.

Is Polynesian a race or ethnicity? ›

Polynesians form an ethnolinguistic group of closely related people who are native to Polynesia (islands in the Polynesian Triangle), an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean.

What ethnicity are Polynesian people? ›

Pacific Islanders refer to those whose origins are the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Polynesia includes Hawaii (Native Hawaiian), Samoa (Samoan), American Samoa (Samoan), Tokelau (Tokelauan), Tahiti (Tahitian), and Tonga (Tongan).

Is Moana Polynesian or Hawaiian? ›

Although Moana is from the fictional island Motunui some 3,000 years ago, the story and culture of Moana is based on the very real heritage and history of Polynesian islands such as Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti.

Why do Samoans get a PE A? ›

In Samoan society, the pe'a and the malu are viewed with cultural pride and identity as well as a hallmark of manhood and womanhood. Pe'a is the traditional tattoo design for men that spans from the waist to the knee. The design is very intricate with a series of lines, curves, geometric shapes and patterns.

Can I get a Zia tattoo? ›

As for new business owners or those looking to get a Zia tattoo – the Zia tribe would ask that you brush up on your history and ask permission. If you approach it with grace and respect, you may get permission to have a Zia tattoo – then the story behind your ink has become that much richer and more meaningful.

What is Polynesian tattooing called? ›

Tā moko is the permanent marking or "tattoo" as traditionally practised by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is one of the five main Polynesian tattoo styles (the other four are Marquesan, Samoan, Tahitian and Hawaiian).

What type of tattoo styles are Polynesian? ›

Among the 5 main Polynesian tattoo styles, Maori, Samoan, Marquesan and Hawaiian are the most traditional ones, while the Tahitian tattoo style has evolved from them to shape a new, more figurative style that often includes realistic elements to achieve the 'wow' factor that contributed to their present popularity.


1. Who can wear Pacific tattoos? | Say It Wit Yo Chest
2. Episode 8. Should non-Samoans get Samoan tattoos?
(Behind the Lavalava Podcast)
3. Polynesian Tattoo Symbols and Meanings - TATtalk 1
4. Should You Get a Polynesian Tattoo for the Looks?
(TATtalk podcast)
5. Part: 2 Non Cultural Appropriation With Polynesian Tattoos!
(Captain: Kawika Ke’Ali’i Makakehau-Kahumoku)
6. 'Polynesian Tattoos' The Art of Ink (Season 2) Digital Exclusive | Paramount Network
(Ink Master)


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