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Aloha, and thanks for taking the time to read  my blog.

I did this calf piece the other day; it is a mixture of traditional Marquesan, modern Maori, and modern Hawaiian, done in the modern Samoan taulima style.

Taulima (meaning, armband) is popular in Polynesia right now, and when people think ‘Polynesian’ tattoo, they are often referring to this style.

Taulima combines the weave structure and motifs found in the Samoan pe’a. But because the pe’a process is so time consuming and painful, many people prefer to have taulima instead. That being said, the taulima is not conducive to providing the genealogical information that the pe’a easily conveys and is mainly done for aesthetic purposes.

The main reason for this is because the structure of the pe’a is built upon the structure of the home or dwelling, with the house post (think the main beam of a house), ‘aso e tasi, being the foundation from which the other beams (‘aso fa’aifo, ‘aso fa’alava, ‘aso laitiiti) subsequently radiate from. The pe’a is built on this foundation and is finished off with, at the small of the back, a canoe shaped motif that symbolizes the generations of families of a given individual.

The taulima is not as expansive, nor is the shape, generally placed on the shoulder/chest/arm region, symmetrical and therefore does not lend itself to the elegance of the pe’a. The pe’a, when completed, is meant to resemble the shape of a flying fox, hanging upside down, wings folded against the body.

However, this does not diminish the efficacy of the tattoo! And as you can see, the taulima is something that the artist can have fun with and it looks great too.

This client wanted to have a piece that reflected his spirituality, his love for his children and a new beginnings.

The breakdown is as follows:

a)- papa konane: this lauhala variant is a modern Hawaiian interpretation of the lauhala mat, that symbolizes family, unity and exclusivity

b)- pepehipu: this Marquesan element is a simple band of black. The word means “pounded or beaten” and it symbolizes the flattened bark of the mulberry tree, or tapa (kapa) that was used as a rudimentary armor of sorts. It is meant to protect.

c)- aveau: this Samoan motif is the star of the sea and it is meant to symbolize guidance, spirits of  the deceased and devotion.

d)- ama kopeka: this Marquesan motif represents a flame and represents in this instance, illumination.

e)- mata: this Marquesan motif symbolizes a row of eyes that look forward and backward, up and down,or threats or harm.

f)- ani ata: this Marquesan motif represents the sky, heaven, ancestors and the horizon.

g)- a’aka hala: this Marquesan/Hawaiian motif represents the weave of the fronds of the pandanus tree. It is meant to symbolize family, unity, armor and protection.

h)- koru: this Maori symbol of the unfurling fern head symbolizes new beginnings, growth, life and breath.

i)- poiti and pahoe, these two Marquesan symbols represent this person’s son and daughter, respectively.

j)- hena: this Marquesan motif for the hand is used to affix the tattoo to the body.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the read!

Aloha, Roland

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