I had a ton of fun with this tattoo! Meeting with the client. determining his history, drawing up the piece and then executing it, galvanized within me, the reason that I love my job so much: meeting and spending time with like-minded individuals.
This person hails from the Similkameen Indian Band (which is an offshoot of the Okanagan First Nation) in B.C., Canada. We immediately hit it off when he and his girlfriend came into the shop, asking about the significance of Polynesian tattoo. Because Polynesians and Native Americans are sister cultures, we ended up discussing the similarities of both and found that as individuals, he and I were very much the same in regards to our beliefs in both our cultures and personal lives. It is for these rare interactions, that I live to do what I do. I love meeting people from other parts of the world that have a profound love and respect for culture and spirituality as I do. It is rare, indeed and I covet those times like a junkie.
He had much history to discuss and like most folks it was filled with both happiness and sadness, love and loss, turmoil and prosperity. What we decided to glorify in this piece was his connection with the earth and the love for his family as the center point. He lives in a small village, virtually off the grid, and so his sense of community and connection to the ancient ways of his ancestors were also key points to consider. Hunting, communing with nature and respecting the practices of his ancestors are a very large part of his everyday life. I wanted to show that in the tattoo and it was not difficult. Sometimes tattoos design themselves and this is such a case.
I am so happy with this design because it manifested itself organically and in the end, displayed characteristics that were true to classic Marquesan tattoo (CMT) design, without anything being forced.
That is indeed a rarity.
Balance was what I chose to focus on because he was born on the scorpio/libra cusp and felt that balance was a key element in shaping his life. So everything in this piece is symmetrical and a mirror of itself, much like CMT. Not only that, but the entire piece works on the dual plane principle of CMT as well.
When all paka are taken into account (from a frontal plane), the entire piece can be seen to resemble an etua, or godling/divinity. The circle makes the head with each wedge shaped paka resembling (two upper and two lower, at each side of the tattoo) arms and legs, respectively.
As it happened to turn out, also along this frontal plane, another shape manifested itself in the lower quadrant, and that is the image of a face, with the koru forming a nose and the two ipu on either sides acting as eyes.
I did not intentionally set out to make this happen, it just occurred organically, which is always the best way for this to happen!
So, here is a breakdown of the motifs that speak of this person’s past and also giving him guidance and protection in the future.
Top to bottom:
The upper portion of this piece is split into 3 paka, with the circle being the center piece. From top to bottom the circle contains the following:
a) Past, present and future waves (hala, ano, mua) done as a flowing ribbon. The top arc is his past, the middle two converging lines are the present and the small pint at which they converge, the future.
b) Star (hoku), this is in reference to his spirit animal, the horse, as well as illuminates and guides him to prosperity in all future endeavors.
c) Birds (na manu), these birds represent his two daughters as well as freedom.
d) Sky/heavens/ancestors (ani ata) this represents his ancestors looking over him
Because of the symmetry of this piece, I will explain both right and left paka as one.
e) Hand (hena, i’ima) this hand holds the tattoo to the body.
f) Teeth (niho), protection
g) Palm frond (lau niu), connection to the earth, nobility
h) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection
When the two paka are viewed as one this is the All-seeing eyes, or mata hoata (protection from future threats)
i) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection
j) Spear (ihe), symbolizing the hunter
k) Teeth (niho), protection
l) Container of mana (ipu), container of power, the universe and creation
m) Container of mana (ipu), container of power, the universe and creation
n) Fish net (pahiko a tuivi), the purpose of this motif is to catch sin, or protect from sin
o) Hand (hena, i’ima) this hand holds the tattoo to the body.
p) Eye (mata), to look out for danger, protection
q) Fernhead (koru), Maori shape symbolizing growth, new beginnings, breath and life. Flowing from opposite directions for balance.
Thank you for spending time reading my blog and thank you for your interest in Polynesian tattoos.
Aloha and peace! R