Tattoo Traditions Of Hawaii

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Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii


Anthropologist and tattooist Tricia Allen has harnessed centuries of knowledge about Hawaiian tattoos and has created this fascinating, comprehensive reference book that can be enjoyed by both tattoo enthusiasts and cultural scholars. (Greene: 124) Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii describes the evolution of Hawaiian tattooing as an art and science tracing it from its early roots in ancient Polynesia; presents motif, meaning, placement, tools and techniques along with personal observations and commentary in meticulous and graphic detail; discusses contemporary Hawaiian tattooing within the context of contact with the Western world; and includes drawings of designs and patterns for ideas and consideration.

Author's Relationship To This Topic

If you've been reading our “Book ends” or checking out our events calendar for April, you'll have noticed that Mutual Publishing is releasing a new book called The Polynesian Tattoo Today by Tricia Allen. They're having a tattoo contest this Saturday at Barnes & Noble Ala Moana. Allen is not only a brilliant photographer, dedicated historian and cultural activist, she's also a tattoo artist herself. Her previous book Tattoo Traditions of Hawaii focused on traditional and modern tattoo in Hawaii and this second book was written based on feedback from readers and other tattooists.

Important Points

For those fascinated by Hawaiian and Polynesian tattoos, this is a fantastic resource. There is a great combination of history, mini bios of tattoo artists, as well as stories of current Hawaiian people and their tattoo stories. The book concludes with examples of different patterns and designs, which are common among Hawaiian tattoos. (Fielder: 141)

For all lovers of Polynesian culture, and traditional native tattoo, this is a book you don't want to miss. It is historical, cultural, and modern at the same time. Tricia Allen is a celebrated tattoo artist in Polynesian circles, and to those of us who know and love the cultural connections her designs evoke. If you are interested in any of these things, check out her website, as well as this book.

This collection of amazing photos attests to the high level of artistic achievement and technical ability of the Polynesian people today, as well as non-islanders who have been heavily influenced by the art of the Pacific.

Tattoos have always had a deep meaning for humanity. The oldest extant tattooed person was a man who died during the Bronze Age 5,000 years ago; since then, body art has survived across different cultures and different times Greene, Gerald and Caroline. 1974). Today, it flourishes. Tattoo artists exist in every major city around the world, their tools manufactured from surgical steel.

As a sociological phenomenon, the tattoo is an expression both of one's individuality as well as one's membership of larger social groups.

Men and women of prehistory tattooed themselves for many of the same reasons we hold today; the earliest tattoos originated in cave paintings and had deep social and religious meanings.

Prehistoric tattoos signified tribe membership as well as humanity's place in the scheme of nature. Many patterns related to supernatural elements whose protection the wearer sought to invoke. (Allen: 45)

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