Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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

Aloha! I hope everyone is having a wonderful New Year. Just wanted to post this pic of an upper back piece that I did last week on one of my regular clients. Full moon with halftones. Enjoy!10917383_10205871241881878_4507206284130637999_n


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

Did this tiger shark yesterday! It was his first tattoo and he took it well. Will eventually add some Polynesian work around it. Peace!10885072_10205639929819221_449174031415791468_n

Aloha! I’ve been working non-stop since getting back from New Orleans and Texas and haven’t posted anything to my blog for a bit. To make up for it, here are some recent finished tattoos and other items. Yesterday the North Hawaii News included me in an article about the renaissance of Polynesian tattoo happening in the islands (and all over the world), for which I am truly humbled.

Here are some pics of some recent work. Please hit up my site to see more work. Peace!

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Back in the shop

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

Aloha all! I am officially back in the shop today, after being in the East coast for 5 weeks. Come on in if you would like to schedule an appointment or if you just want to talk story. There’s a lot of changes happening in the next few months as I do a small remodel of the shop. Aloha! Roland

This calf piece commemorates this person’s marriage and children.It is done in modern Marquesan, Maori and Ana’ole style. There are four distinct pakas, each one a singular representation of each child with the final paka being a combination or union of the two parents.
From left to right, the tattoo breakdown is as follows:
Outside of calf, from ankle upwards-
a) hope vehine- turtle shell, twin goddess analog: protection for entire piece
b) ani ata- sky/heavens: a place where angels dwell, line of ancestors
c) koru- fern head: life, breath, cycle of life
d) tiki of child: image of respective child, in this case Kahanuola, or breath of life. Both male tiki share identical facial features which are comprised of nutu kaha (mouth), nose (ihu), eyes (mata) and eyebrows (kape). Each face also contain hope vehine, and various koru both singularly and in pairs. The eyebrows contain the motif, unaunahi representing fish scales.
e) 3 niho mano- shark teeth: warrior spirit (in Fibonacci sequence)
f) ama kopeka- fire: the element in this child’s zodiac sign
g) po’o kohe/ka’ake/koru- I changed the base and top of the ka’ake to represent an etua (godling) stretching upwards. I then placed twin koru at its center to represent this child’s particular name, breath of life. The overall shape is that of po’o kohe, or bamboo shoot, the purpose of which is to drive away evil spirits.
h) koru- fern head: everlasting life.
Front of calf and knee-
a) twin koru- fern head: both koru split and form two separate offshoots while simultaneously uniting both inside and outside paka.
b) pahiko a tuivi- fish net: to catch sin
c) poi’i inset into pepehipu flanked by hope vehine: the central element of this paka represents the female child, her Hawaiian name, Hokulanimaimakanapoinaole, or heavenly star (more or less). The poi’i is a symbol meaning, the universe or ‘the great fish in the sky’. It also correlates to creation. The black field surrounding the circular poi’i is called, pepehipu and represents armor. On either side are hope vehine elements affording protection. The overall shape of the pepehipu is very roughly the shape of ama kopeka, or fire, representing this child’s zodiac element.
Inside of calf, from ankle upwards-
a) enana, male and female: this is the human representation of father and mother, the father being the larger of the two, the mother is standing on his arm. Both are propping up their children, or holding them up to heaven (ani ata directly above).
b) tiki is the same as the opposite side, differentiated only by the sub-motif placed above and to the right of the eye.
c) po’o kohe/hoku: like ‘g’ mentioned above, this motif is comprised of multiple elements. The shape is that of an etua inset with twin stars (twin anything is a good omen) that represent this child’s Hawaiian name, Makanamaikalani, or gift from heaven/ heavenly gift.
d) makani-wind: this is the element of this male child’s zodiac sign.
Backside of calf, from ankle upwards-
a) koru- twin convergin koru come together and create their children. Bottom koru represents the father, top represents mother and is also inset toward the top with hope vehine.
This is just one facet of this person’s story which will be further elaborated on in the form of a full sleeve that is in the process of being designed.
Aloha! R



Fundamentals of Traditional and Modern Polynesian Tattoo is finished! I am finalizing the cover and then its off to get a proof.  After that, it will go through a quick, final round of editing before going on sale. Everything is on schedule so expect it to be out in the beginning of July 2013.

Final numbers:

8.5 x 11format, color cover, b/w inside

total page count: 236

667 images, 175+ definitions


Just finished this piece today. She wanted something that spoke of her family and ancestors. This is also a protection piece for her as well. The breakdown is as follows:

A- Aniata/ Halawai= The horizon where the sea and clouds meet, heaven, the reflection of the moon on the water. This symbol is ornamental and meant to be placed under ear lobes or any round body part. It was often placed on the buttocks (with ie vau and mata hoata) as a sign of defiance.

B- Hope Vehine= The symbol of the divine Siamese twins of tattoo, a symbol of power that invokes the power of the twins, also when placed on a female represents Kea, the turtle.

C- Lau Niu= Palm fronds, signifying higher status.

D- Mata Hoata= The face of divinity. meant to protect the wearer by ‘weeing’ danger or threats that the wearer may not see.

E- Koru= Fernhead, Maori symbol for everlasting life, cycle of life and new beginnings.

F- Poka’a= Marquesan symbols which represent strength. They add power to the wearer as well as the tattoo.

G- Etua= This particular tiki represents her son.

H- Hulu Pueo= Owl feathers. Her air aumakua is the owl. Each feather (6) represents the members of her immediate family.

I- Niho Mano= Shark teeth. Her water (ocean) aumakua is the shark. Each tooth (6) represents the members of her immediate family.

J- Hope Vehine= the placement of this symbol closes off the tattoo, fortifying it and adding protection to the symbols in the tattoo.

Peace and aloha!

I’ve just returned from a short, but much needed holo holo on Oahu with Anna. Our only plans were to visit the Bishop Museum and to get Anna’s camera sensors cleaned. We managed to do both and had some time to get plenty sunburned as well as go on a food safari.

I needed to go to the Bishop Museum to do some research on my next book on Polynesian tattoo. I came away with some useful information and tons of photographs that I think will help me to produce a book on Polynesian tattoo, like no other. The last time I visited the museum must have been 30 years ago at least. I can’t remember the condition of the place back then, but I have to say that it parts of the place has fallen into disrepair, with some buildings closed down all together. It was sad to witness this and with the small amount of visitors (granted we went on a Monday), it is obvious that things need to change in order for this bastion of Polynesian culture to remain an attraction.

I am working non-stop on compiling notes (80 pages so far) and information, it seems that the further down the rabbit hole I venture, the more I learn, which is extremely satisfying. I had several epiphanies while on our mini vacation that has helped me to better understand the Marquesan mindset and impetus behind the tattoo motifs that they employed. Stay tuned here for further developments.

Aloha and peace!