Monday, December 1, 2014

Tatau Research

 Recently in extension, we have been learning and researching about tattoo symbols and what they mean. We also got to look at the traditional Samoan tattoo - “Tatau or Pe’a”.

 Just last week we were lucky enough to have Mr Tele’a come in to talk to us about his own tatau/pe’a. He gave us a very specific understanding about it. He also explained what his tatau meant. I remember him telling us that if you were to put a tatau onto a big piece of paper and unravel it, it would end up looking like a flying fox/ bat hence the name “Pe’a”.   

 Before Mr Tele’a came in, we were learning about the different parts of a pe’a. We learnt about the following -

* Faavaetuli - (the tuli's footprint) - the tuli was the bird of the supreme Atua, Tagaloalagi.
* Faaatualoa - (centipede) - believed to be one of a god of the past.
* Faalaupaogo - (panadus leaf) - one of the important plant to the Samoans.
* Faapepe - (butterfly) - one of a useful insect to the Samoans.
* Faagogo - (tern) - another important bird to the Samoans
* Faaupega - (net) - very useful for fishing - for Samoans everyday need.
* Faaanufe - (caterpillar) - a symbol of a new life to a Samoan man.
* Faasigano (male pandanus flower) worn by the Samoan young men for their pride to be real Samoans
* Faamulialiao (shellfish) - one of the most important shellfish to the Samoans

Every part of the tatau is significant and has meaning, but two parts that Mr Tele’a explained as very important to him were his belly button and the va’a (also known as the canoe).The canoe is a 20-30 cm wide black strip that goes across the back with arrow points at both ends, going towards the front under arms. This represents the family of the tatau wearer must protect. And the belly button is significant to him because it was the last part that was done.

 Now, we have to design our very own tattoo’s that are made out of two design. One has to represent our family and culture and the other has to represent ourselves. Right now, I am still working on deciding on my final design. I am looking forward to learning more about the Samoan Tatau.


Sunder said...


Thanks for sharing this article.

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