Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

190103-mexico-archeology-flayed-god-skins-sl-1139a_78cf63caa118b117530e19f583f66811.fit-2000w

I haven’t posted much regarding Polynesian tattoo for a while now, my bad. I really have no excuse other than I have put too much on my plate in terms of side projects while also running my shop.

Such is life.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped doing research; in fact, I continue to add to my timeline of art in relation to human history on a regular basis. I created this timeline when I wrote my book, The Fundamentals… and it has become an obsession ever since.

But that’s another story.

Another reason that I haven’t posted anything is that information isn’t easy to come by and more often than not, requires connecting the dots and finding commonalities between occurrences and instances that have taken place over many hundreds if not thousands of years apart. And in most cases, there simply isn’t enough viable information to make a connection that is germane or consistent.

But because of a recent finding and subsequent published articles, I think that I can finally make a connection to something that I have a personal interest in understanding and that is an obscure Marquesan tattoo motif, Mata Komoe or, Death’s Head.

I’ve written about this before, on this very blog and now I have what I believe is a solid connection to not only the origin of this motif but also to it’s true meaning.

But first, a little back story:

There are two references to the usage of this motif and both come from engravings by Georg von Langsdorff while he accompanied the Russian scientific expedition led by Adam von Krusenstern from 1803-1805, when they visited the Marquesas.

warrior_eng

This symbol intrigued Karl von den Steinen when he visited and documented the islands almost 100 years later. He had not seen it on the skin during his time spent there and no one seemed to recall anyone wearing this image or what it meant. He glossed it as the “Death’s Head” for the likely reason that it was on the back of a warrior and its placement could point to a similar use of the mata hoata as a protective device to look out for potential threats from behind. He may have embellished on the symbol by calling it, “Death’s Head” simply because it loosely resembled a human skull or by some other information that he had obtained.

I found the placement and usage as observed by Langsdorff to be curious for the simple fact that on the warrior engraving, the motif is placed at the center of the back and no place else.

As a tattoo artist, I feel that the presence of the symbol required a specific space or area in order for it to have efficacy and purpose. In terms of the engraving, it’s clear that the symbol is placed at the center of the entirety of the back piece with subsequent images around it; this may have been to make the message of the symbol crystal clear to an observer.

mata_komoe

The second usage of the image is found on an engraving surrounded by other known Marquesan tattoo images and it is slightly more detailed.

Here the image is round, in the shape of a human skull and surrounded by a halo of connected etua (deified ancestors) that could just as easily be a hue’e ka’ake (fighting force, group of warriors).

Placing this image in the center of the back makes me think that the intention is to define a fighting force of elite warriors and not so much an homage to ancestry.

But could it have a completely different intention all together?

A recent article circulating online regarding Xipe Totec, the Mesoamerican diety known as, “The Flayed God” points to a possible connection.

It’s my belief that for many thousands of years, the Pacific Ocean was essentially a well traveled ‘road’ used by Asian cultures (those that possessed the technology to exploit it, namely cultures occupying modern day India/China) to make contact with cultures in Oceania and the Americas. Ancient Asia based cultures possessed the ability to produce sea-faring ships as far back as 5800 BCE. The oldest seafaring boat on record dates from 1550-1300 BCE so even if the technology did not come from an Asian source there is evidence that it did exist, albeit in another part of the world.

By the time of the Olmec around 1500 BCE, a culture so unique that it changed the course of the Americas with Asian derived art and technology, it’s a possibility that the technology required to travel thousands of miles over water was already well established.

Xipe Totec was an important god to the Olmec, Toltec, Aztec and Popoloca, the latter of which constructed temples to the god.

The article states that Xipe Totec was an important deity to many cultures but that the discovery of a temple in Tehuacan, Puebla state, Mexico, is the first of its kind.

Xipe Totec was the god of fertility, spring and harvest. He was also tied to the Earth’s cycle of regeneration. Human sacrifices were made to the god to ensure an abundant harvest and the skin of those sacrificed were flayed from the body and worn by the high priests until they became tight and worn. This was done in honor of the god and to ensure that the sacrifices were effective.

Human sacrifice was performed by many ancient cultures, for a multitude of reasons. The Marquesans were no different. They sacrificed to appease the gods, to bring rain, to ensure a bountiful harvest among other reasons. They were also known to cannibalize, which was not so uncommon an activity back then.

I’ve included a map that shows the relation of Mexico to the Marquesas, to illustrate how a sea-going vessel could easily have traveled between the two points using sea currents, wind and human power.

pacific_map

Does this mean that the Mata Komoe and Xipe Totec have something in common?
Could they the same?

It’s certainly intriguing then that the placement of Mata Komoe on the back of a warrior coincides with the wearing of the skin on the back of the priest to honor the god himself.

According to my time line, settlement of the Marquesas began around 200 BCE, 200 years after the decline of the Olmec culture. The temple built to Xipe Totec was constructed sometime between 1000-1200 CE. The formal date of western contact with the Marquesans happened in 1526, by the Spanish.

A lot can happen in 1000+ years.

And a lot can be shared.

So does this mean that the Death’s Head is a derivative of the god, Xipe Totec?

I can’t say for certain, although the similarities in both concept and design are hard to ignore. I believe that ancient civilizations were in contact with one another on a greater level than we can currently prove.

That being said, the evidence is there: from Asian-esque art created by the Olmec to the commonalites of Polynesian and Asian art, to the presence of seaworthy vessels dating back many thousands of years.

Whatever the answer, it still makes interesting food for thought.

Aloha!
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/temple-flayed-lord-found-mexico-180971165/

https://www.ancient.eu/Olmec_Civilization/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Olmec

https://www.donaldheald.com/pages/books/34467/adam-johann-von-krusenstern/voyage-autour-du-monde-fait-dans-les-annees-1803-1804-1805-et-1806-par-les-ordres-de-sa-majestie

https://www.dovermuseum.co.uk/bronze-age-boat/bronze-age-boat.aspx

https://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/specials/timeline/the-dover-bronze-age-boat.htm

Koi study

Posted: August 16, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had an opportunity to keep up with my blog 😦

I apologize for this and in an attempt to make up for this oversight, I’m posting some of the projects that have been taking up so much of my time (besides writing a new book, lol) https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Complicated-short-guide-simple/dp/1720817855/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534446382&sr=8-1&keywords=happiness+is+complicated

I love painting and have not done so in about 10 years! Too much time out of the game.

Koi are my favorite subject and I decided to do a study on koi and light interactions. I prefer not to paint with a brush (palette knives, fingers, and sponges are my go to). I’ve been painting since the age of 9 and have just migrated away from them although I use them for broader applications such as background and underpainting.

On my latest piece, I decided to use dowels exclusively (think chop sticks of varying diameters) and have found that I love this technique. I am also sticking to acrylics and so far have been painting on canvas although I hope to do some on masonite.

All pieces will be displayed at my shop in Hawi.

I hope that you enjoy what you see!

Aloha,

Roland

 

IMG_4421

“The blackest, blackest, blue”

Acrylic on canvas, 60″x24″

 

IMG_4481

“Koi division”

Acrylic on canvas, 40″x30″

 

IMG_4518

“3 seasons”

Acrylic on canvas, 24″x12″

 

IMG_4517

“Broken light”

Acrylic on canvas, 24″x12″

 

IMG_4516

“Chaos/order”

Acrylic on canvas, 45″x28″ painted with wooden dowels only

 

 

 

Kia Ora!
I am very pleased to announce that episode 2, Tattoo Nomad: North Island, New Zealand is finished and posted to my YouTube channel!
We had a blast making this episode even though it was a lot of work, lol.
Please watch and share!
We want to do more episodes and need some help getting the word out.
I can’t thank everyone enough for the continued support and hope that you enjoy our effort at making tattoo something to celebrate that can bring people together through shared love of this amazing art form.
Thank you for watching! Aloha!
vvvvv copy paste link below vvvvv

Here is a link to a project that I have been working on called, Tattoo Nomad. It was originally supposed to be a sizzle reel to stir up interest in the idea but became a full episode and so I have made it the pilot.

The format will evolve; I am working on episode one at the moment (Belgium) and can say that it is more polished. That being said, I’m happy with how this turned out and for all the support that I had making it.

In the pilot I talk about my history and the history of Polynesian tattoo in regards to Hawaii. In the tattoo portion, the importance of remembering our ancestors and respecting the past is the topic.

I plan on making more of these as time and funds permit so stay tuned.

Aloha!

 

This piece centers on the honu (turtle) and balance. The symmetry of this piece speaks of the client’s desire to have a tattoo that represents his admiration of the honu as well as elements that relate to his love for his family and the sea. Because he is an airline pilot I included elements of flight and freedom and a paka that relates to both his love for his wife and protection when he is aloft, so that he will always (find) land safely.

The manu (bird) follows the turtle towards land, as it flies (the bird flies, not the turtle!). The upper most paka represents the land surrounded by the sea. The two waves represent he and his wife and the matau (hook) that is barely visible at the front of the tattoo represents both his love of fishing as well as an anchor that ensures that he will land safely when in the air.

Here is a breakdown of the symbols:

a) Manu = bird: freedom, flight, voyage
b) Koru = unfurling fern head: breath, life, balance
c) Ipu = container, gourd: creation, container of mana (spiritual energy)
d) Etua i’ima = hands of his ancestors: hands that hold the tattoo to his body
e) Potiki = child: these represent each of his children (3)
f) Mata = eyes: protection, look out for danger, there are 2 sets (4 eyes)
g) Nalu = wave: two waves, one representing himself and his wife, respectively
h) Matau = hook: this hook represents his love of fishing as well as an anchor that brings him back to land.

Aloha and thank you for your time!

My bad!

Posted: April 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

Aloha!

I will be the first to admit that I have been neglecting my blog and for that I apologize. It seems that work and life have gotten the better of me lately and somethings have slipped by the wayside, mainly, this blog.

I hate excuses and avoid using them whenever possible, so please don’t think for a moment that this is some sort of excuse, it’s just fact, lol.

The main reason that I have been silent on my blog as of late is because I am working on a project that has been consuming pretty much all of my time. Between work and this project (and also planning for my upcoming trip to London and Belgium in May) I have literally had little time to relax. But this is the game I have chosen to play 🙂

I can’t divulge too many details about this project yet, as it is still in development and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but what I can tell you is that it involves entertainment programming (television and internet) that I am producing myself. I hope to generate some interest in it (admittedly, it already has some…) and am going to be moving forward with it, in terms of my own personal branding, whether or not it gets picked up by a major network or if I publish it to my YouTube channel.

I’ve already said too much!

So, please watch this space. I will keep it updated, I promise.

In the meantime, here is some of the work that I have been up to lately.

Aloha and thanks for looking!

This piece was created to symbolize this person’s marriage, family, freedom, his late mother and love of riding motorcycles. All sections, or paka, are connected with niho (teeth) the number of which correspond to the Fibonacci sequence 1,1,2,3,5.

Here is a breakdown of the tattoo:

a) hulu= feather: symbolizing freedom, flight, and direction that pertains to his occupation as a long haul truck driver

b) lei niho= garland of teeth: this forms the foundation for his family. There are 2 niho that are filled with lauhala (pandanus weave) that represent himself and his wife.

c) iti’iti’i= binding: this paka represents marriage.

d) ka makani= wind: this symbolizes his love of riding motorcycles and the freedom that brings.

e) etua manu= deified bird: this symbol represents his late mother. It is placed on his shoulder so that she can help guide him as well as look over him.

f) na mata= eyes: this symbol represents eyes that look out for any harm, as a protective device.

Thanks for looking!

Aloha!brkdown