Posts Tagged ‘kohala’

This pleasant fellow and his family stopped into the shop, day before yesterday, wanting a tattoo. He told me that he wanted some Poly, but was unsure as to what, so then just asked me to come up with something. He said whatever it was it had to be badass.
This is what I came up with. I decided to create something dedicated to himself and his family. I decided not to make the piece 3 dimensional, with added shading. I wanted it to be as close to traditional Poly (which does not have any shading), but be predominantly ana’ole style.
Starting at the bottom, there are two opposing ipo oto (inside of calabash) which are symbols of strength. Next, toward the front of his bicep, are the tiki of his wife and daughter. His wife’s tiki (the larger of the two)  is inset with a poi’i, a small shellfish that contains mother-of-pearl (I’ll be posting a write-up on the poi’i on my blog as soon as I have the time).His daugther’s tiki is inset with the poka’a, a symbol of strength. The large tiki on top, is the representation of the pleasant fellow, looking not so pleasant as badass.
The symbol in the center is actually two symbols. The bottom half of the circle is an etua, or divine representation of, his wife and daughter’s love and support of him; essentially his foundation. The upper half of the circle is the sun (la), which is rising. This symbolizes his commitment to them as a father and provider. The two parts act as one and perpetuate the other.
At the back of his arm are several palm fronds set with niho in Fibonacci sequence.

Aloha and peace!

I just finished this tattoo a few days ago. It is an example of traditional Maori, Marquesan and Ana’ole. I am providing this breakdown of the symbols for the collector of this piece, but because of the personal nature surrounding the images, I will not go into the ‘why’.
That being said, this piece was intended to be a summary of this individual’s life, as well as speaking of his relationship with his family and amakua (personal spirit totems) as well as overcoming great obstacles.
Aloha and peace!

a- Niho mano around circumference of tattoo, to protect tattoo. The niho begin at the bottom and number 40 until they reach the first large niho, then the number halves and goes into a Fibonacci sequence until ending at the top.

b- Lau Niu, coconut fronds.

c- 3 tiki

d- niho mano

e- poka’a, symbols of strength

f- etua, godling

g- 3 manu, or birds

h- makani, or wind

i- past, present and future mountains (instead of waves)

j- paisley with tree

k- etua holding canoe paddle

l- mata hoata, brilliant eyes

m- makani

n- ‘alala, or Hawaiian crow

o- maka mo’o, or eye of the dragon

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to post any breakdowns of the Polynesian tattoos that I have been doing. This is a piece that I recently did on a girl that is going to be attending UH to study marine biology, whales (kohola) in particular.

She wanted something that represented her love of the animal that also reflected Polynesian sensibilities. When she contacted me initially via email she said that she wanted the overall design to follow the Maori koru. The koru is a representation of an unfurling fern, imparted with the meaning of new beginnings, new life and the eternal cycle of life; I thought that basis extremely appropriate.

I thought that representing the spirit of the animal would be the best way to convey this piece so I started with (beginning at the tail) the mata hoata (brilliant eye) which is used to characterize the embodiment of the whale spirit. By placing a mata hoata at the beginning and end of the piece I mean to encapsulate the front and back of the whale itself. Much of Marquesan art and tattoo involves the repeated placement of symbols as a way of conveying dimensionality (for lack of a better word) to the piece. This ensured that the artwork would be ‘covered’ or ‘aware’, from all angles.

To further the strength of the piece and add to the divinity of the whale spirit invoked, I placed etua at the base of the first mata hoata to further drive the point of the manifestation of the whale spirit. Etua are god-lings or representation of whatever divinity is being invoked, in this case, the whale.

Two strength symbols, poka’a are used to add power to the two symbols above.

Ka’ake, the upraised arm, conveys strength as well, reflecting the power of the creature and the intent of the tattoo. The niho placed above the last mata hoata, is meant to protect the tattoo itself.

Peace and aloha!

Here is the breakdown of the semiotics or symbols used to create this tattoo. It is important to note that when a symbol has been repeated, as is typical of Polynesian tattoo, that the same numeral will be used to identify that symbol.

A characteristic of traditional Polynesian tattoo is the constant evolution, if you will, of the symbols themselves, whether it were applied to a war club, canoe or the body,etc. This constant evolution and tweaking of the symbol(s) has to do with the ‘function’ of that specific symbol in relation to how and where it is placed and in what context to the body or form. Because the Marquesan’s viewed themselves as being one with their personal and sacred possessions (which in turn gave them a direct tie to their divine creator and solidified their status amongst their respective tribe) the symbols themselves take on a ‘life’ of their own and will often appear different despite retaining their true meaning.

Therefore, if you see the symbol of nalu, for example, and it appears differently throughout the context of the tattoo know that it is indeed, a wave.

The client approached me wanting to combine three existing piece that she had in different locations on her body: The ‘cross’ symbol between her shoulder blades, the stylized tribal piece on her lower back and the circular motif on her ribs, respectively.

She paddles canoe and so wanted the overall piece to be representative of the ocean. She also wanted to mix traditional Marquesan with my own style, Ana’ole. We discussed some of the symbols that she wanted to incorporate, but the majority of them she left to me to compose. Here is what I came up with.

The following definitions will be stated by either their respective Hawaiian or Marquesan names first.

A

1: Nalu (ocean wave)– strength, power and beauty.
2: Poka’a (wooden shoulder support used to suspend and carry a pole)– strength, tenacity.
3: Mata Hoata (brilliant eyes, all seeing eyes)– a divine symbol of protection that keeps the wearer protected. Also intended to cause fear in the hearts of enemies.
4: ‘iwa (Frigate bird)– symbol of dualities, in this case meant to protect the wearer and lead her back to land should she become lost at sea. In this instance the bird is flying from the land out to sea and in doing so becomes a wave.
5: Tiki– symbols of divine creation, the row of 5 represents a number from Fibonacci Sequence (FS).
6: Nalu (ocean wave, Ana’ole style)– strength, power, beauty, inset with FS.
7: Ka’ake (raised arm)– considered by Gell (1998: Chapter 8.9, p176-7) to be a climbing symbol, I tend to agree with Handy (1922, plate XXVI) that the symbol is an upraised arm symbolizing strength and power. The ka’ake itself is comprised of a subset of symbols, most notably hope vehine which are a symbol of divine female siamese twins.
8: Niho (teeth)– teeth are used in contemporary Hawaiian tattoo to represent family members and/or the warrior spirit. It was used as an adjunct in Marquesan tattoo to fortify or protect the design. I also believe that it was used so prolifically because of the fact that many Polynesians were cannibals and this displayed such intent perfectly. It is used here as protection.
9: Lau ki (Ti leaf, Ana’ole style)–sacred to the god Lono and used to appease the gods, this symbol represents protection from evil spirits and good fortune.
10: Nalu (ocean wave, Ana’ole style)– inset with ka’ake and palm fronds, this is a symbol of shelter, strength and unity as well as royalty.
11: Hei poi’i (wreath of poi’i)–Poi’i were shellfish that the Marquesans and other Polynesians used as currency because they contained mother of pearl. This is a symbol of stature and prominence.
12: Etua (Godling)– etua symbolizes the divinity that they represent, in this case Kanaloa, god of the sea.
13: Ho’i’o (Fern head)– similar to the Maori koru, this symbol represents the cycle of life, of rebirths and new beginnings. It is a symbol that also naturally represents the Golden Ratio.

B

1: Poka’a (wooden shoulder support used to suspend and carry a pole)– strength, tenacity.
2: Mata Hoata (brilliant eyes, all seeing eyes)– a divine symbol of protection that keeps the wearer protected. Also intended to cause fear in the hearts of enemies.
3: Hala, ano, mua (past, present and future waves, Ana’ole style)– this symbol is one of personal growth and can be used to represent the leaving the hardships of the past while looking forward to a bright and prosperous future.
4: Niho (teeth)– teeth are used in contemporary Hawaiian tattoo to represent family members and/or the warrior spirit. It was used as an adjunct in Marquesan tattoo to fortify or protect the design. I also believe that it was used so prolifically because of the fact that many Polynesians were cannibals and this displayed such intent perfectly. It is used here as protection.
5: Ka la (the sun)– a symbol of power above all else save the divine, this positive symbol represents life, healing and peace. It is seen here with augmented with an ho’i’o.
6: Tiki (forward and backward facing divinities)– in this instance the tiki protect the wearer from adversity that she may encounter overtly or surreptitiously.

C

I apologize for the poor quality of this photo!

1: Lau pama (palm fronds)– represents royalty, shelter and unity.
2: Kea (turtle shell)– kea are considered the female equivalent of the male etua symbol and pertains specifically to turtles, turtle shells, and woodlouse. They are manifestations of divine power and protection.
3: Etua (Godling)– etua symbolizes the divinity that they represent, in this case Kanaloa, god of the sea.
4: Nalu (ocean wave)– strength, power and beauty.
5: Niho (teeth)– teeth are used in contemporary Hawaiian tattoo to represent family members and/or the warrior spirit. It was used as an adjunct in Marquesan tattoo to fortify or protect the design. I also believe that it was used so prolifically because of the fact that many Polynesians were cannibals and this displayed such intent perfectly. It is used here as protection.
6: Maka nui (all seeing eye, Ana’ole style)– this is a modernized symbol of the mata hoata and is imbedded with 2 niho to represent FS.
7: Pohaku wa wahi wa’a (stone hammer used to smash canoe hulls, Ana’ole style)– this symbol represents the tool used to smash the hulls of enemy canoes. It is used in this instance to demonstrate that the wearer is a paddler and bad ass.
8: ‘iwa (Frigate bird)– used in correlation with the first instance of ‘iwa on her back, this twin symbol of two ‘iwa converging to create the symbol, mata komoe or death mask is a protection symbol. This symbol ensures that the wearer will be protected from death by both the ‘iwa and the image of death itself.
9: Kea (turtle shell)– kea are considered the female equivalent of the male etua symbol and pertains specifically to turtles, turtle shells, and woodlouse. They are manifestations of divine power and protection.
10: Etua (Godling)– etua symbolizes the divinity that they represent, in this case Kanaloa, god of the sea. In this instance there are three alternating to coincide with FS.
11: Hikuhiku atu (bonito tails)– bonito are very strong and fast swimmers, this symbol imparts those characteristics to the wearer.
12: Ka’ake (raised arm)– considered by Gell (1998: Chapter 8.9, p176-7) to be a climbing symbol, I tend to agree with Handy (1922, plate XXVI) that the symbol is an upraised arm symbolizing strength and power. The ka’ake itself is comprised of a subset of symbols, most notably hope vehine which are a symbol of divine female siamese twins.
13: Tiki– symbols of divine creation.
14: Ho’i’o (Fern head)– similar to the Maori koru, this symbol represents the cycle of life, of rebirths and new beginnings. It is a symbol that also naturally represents the Golden Ratio.

All typographical errors are purely intentional. 🙂

Thank you for your time and I hope that you enjoyed your stay. Aloha! Roland

This gentleman walked into my shop and uttered the words that are music to a tattoo artists ears.
I had never before met this person and when he walked in last Thursday and began poking around my studio, I just assumed that he was simply browsing. Because of what he was wearing (a chefs coat) I couldn’t see any visible tattoos and figured that he didn’t have much work.
He looked at my books and asked me some questions about my availability as he had a small window of time to have anything done. As it turned out he was leaving in 5 days and of those five, he had one day to have anything done. He then told me that he had two full sleeves and the only open spaces left were his legs and back, the latter of which he was saving for a future piece. That was when I asked him what he wanted to get and he said those magic words, “Honestly, whatever you want to do is fine with me.”
Most people don’t know that these are the words that will often get you the best tattoo, since relinquishing control and letting the artist ‘do his/her thing’ ensures that the person doing the art will throw the best of their abilities into the piece. Of course you want to be sure that you trust the person and that you like his/her work.  I can count on one hand the amount of my regular clientele who walk in and give me such free reign, so it goes without saying that I was completely caught by surprise to hear a total stranger utter such things to me.
He told me that he wanted it to be sizable and that he wanted it to be ana’ole, those were his two criteria, the rest was up to me.
I started with the basics and asked him what brought him to Hawi in the first place. He replied that he was doing a short internship at The Bamboo restaurant, learning some of the culinary secrets from the largest and most popular eatery in town. He then told me how much he had fallen in love with the island and that he someday hoped he could move here (he is from Wisconsin). He told me that he loved going up to Mauna Kea and that his favorite beach was Waipio. He added that his favorite animals were the hammerhead shark and the octopus.
So with that information I came up with this piece which took 6.5 hours.
Beginning at the bottom I put the Waipio Valley. There are three waves breaking upon the beach signifying good fortune. Above that is a maka nui or all-seeing-eye, a symbol that steals ones enemies spirit in battle and is a warrior symbol. Above that is a paka with two tentacles (which belong to the octopus in the third paka above). A hammerhead shark sits above that paka. On its head are 8 hibiscus each representing a respective Hawaiian island. There are FS and waves on the sharks back as well. Above the shark is an octopus with one of its tentacles resting on the sharks head, a sign of affection, not of conflict, to convey the harmony between his two beloved sea creatures.
Moving upward above the octopus in the sun shining down on a snow covered Mauna Kea peak. A gust of wind blows in from the east, representing the trade winds and the fact that he keeps coming back to the Hawaii. All in all this piece was to express his love of the island that he hopes to one day make his home.

Peace!

equipment used: 5RL/9RL/15M

This 1/4 sleeve is a protection piece for this man’s daughter. Beginning at the bottom is a lauhala (pandanus weave) pattern signifying family. Moving upward is her name which turns into the bottom of a star that becomes the bottom of a maka nui or all seeing eye. Underneath that is a papa honu or turtle shell inset with FS spots. To the rear of the shell is a wind since this persons hails from Kohala. The maka nui is adorned with niho mano for strength. There is also more lauhala at the front of the eye.

2.75 hours

Dragonfly, Rotary Works

One (ink)

Peace!

I started this tattoo last month and it needs another hour or so before it is finished but I decided to post it anyway.

This client has been in before and is furthering his collection of Ana’ole Poly by adding a full sleeve. He is an avid waterman–paddles canoe and is a freediver as well– so he chose to go with an ocean-minded theme that reflected his love of the sea. I added other symbols that complemented his initial idea and this is what resulted.

Before I get into the explanations I want to say that one day I will learn to take a proper picture. I don’t know why I have no trouble shooting back up for Anna when she needs a second shooter at say, a wedding, but when it comes to shooting my own work, I screw the pooch. Oh well, I will get better!

Looking at the first picture, beginning from the left and moving to the right, you will first see the inside of his arm as if he were facing you head on with his palm turned toward you. Each consecutive picture moves around his arm with the last picture being the rear shot of his arm.

Starting from his wrist (and the image furthest to the left), the symbols progress as such:

There is a column of lightning that wraps around his wrist followed by a vine of maile with 4 leaves inset with momi (pearls) reflecting a FS. Inset into these two vines are the tips of the maile vines themselves.
From the side view (pic 3 from left) there are rain drops which segue into the lighting from that angle.
On the underside of his forearm (pics 4,5) are six wind-blown waves. Together all of these symbols create the rain on the ocean accompanied by lightning, suggesting power and perpetual change as well as joy, good fortune and growth. Rain is one of those symbols with balanced meanings with both positive and negative connotations.

Just below the inside elbow joint or ditch, are a trio of all seeing eyes which are surrounded by an unfurling palm frond (signifying growth) themselves crowned by five hawk feathers (hulu i’o) the combined ornament of all three symbols also carry the FS.
These compound symbols represent insight, protection from adversaries, nobility and growth.

Underneath these symbols are a row of shark teeth (niho mano) containing FS.

(Note: FS= Fibonacci Sequence, refer to past Ana’ole posts on this blog)

On the outside of his arm in the same general space (in the same pauku as the rain) are three waves (nalu) accompanied by two mini blade shaped paka which contain a total of three stars which symbolize strength, inspiration and hope. Below this pauku is the image of Pele (which I need to still finish).

Moving upward into the inside elbow crease is a symbol called Pohaku wa wahi wa’a, which was a stone hammer used to smash the hulls of enemy canoes. Ancient Hawaiian’s would sneak up on an enemy encampment in the dark of the night and smash their canoe hulls with this tool, and then slip away into the darkness. Since this person paddles canoe then I thought this image appropriate. Set into the blade of his axe-like weapon are a row on shark teeth (niho mano), three waves (nalu), and a spiral of ocean water.

Above this symbol lies another row of shark teeth reflecting a FS.

On his bicep is the god of the sea Kanaloa. He is adorned with water, waves and a small he’e (octopus) that pokes out from the bottom of his jaw.

The final symbol is located on his tricep and is an unfurling fiddle head fern set under the image of the sun. In the sun’s rays are FS as well. This part of the tattoo still needs a little work and is the part that I need to finish.

Total time:

18hrs

Equipment used:

Dragonfly, Rotary Works (machines)

5RL,15M

One (ink)

Peace!

Today a good friend and neighbor came in for a tattoo of King Kamehameha. King K was responsible for uniting the Hawaiian islands back in the day, which he accomplished with brute force and determination. I live in the part of the state where King K was born and raised and ultimately learned how to be such a bad ass. Many people who live in Kohala are descendants of this iconic figure and it is not uncommon to hear people dropping the fact that they are proud to be part of this great king’s legacy.

Since there are no pictures of the man wearing his royal plumage (that I could find) I had to use his statue as the main reference. There are 4 statues of King K (see this link for the dirt, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamehameha_Statues)* one being a replica, I believe. At any rate, using a statue as a reference doesn’t lend itself to producing an image that is completely life like especially since I chose the statue on Oahu, since it is the one with the most detail, despite the fact that the skin is painted black, which hardly allows for contrast building. I attempted to give the image life with use of subtle colors and dropping in the background of the Pololu Valley, which is where King K liked to chill, among other things, ahem.

During the tattoo I asked my friend if he remembered the song about King K that we used to sing when we were children (small kid time). The song told the story of how King Kamehameha went to Mauna Kea, lost his underwear twice and then ended up buying a $50 dollar car. He said that he didn’t, so I sang a few bars. After we had a good laugh he turned to me and said in a very serious tone, “You know, my grandpa would always yell at me when I sang that song because he said that King Kamehameha didn’t wear underwear”. How his grandfather knew that information is something that I will never understand. In all of his statues, the great king is wearing what looks like a primitive thong covered with a swatch of royal cloak. That has to count as underwear, no doubt.

I took my time on this one spending nearly 4 hours on it total. Aloha!

Equipment used:

Dragonfly
RotaryWorks
Pulse- Watson

1RL
5M
15M

Inks:

One
Silverback
Bloodline
Alla Prima

Ana’ole walk-in

 

This person was a walk-in who wanted to get a tattoo before he left. Generally, this is the best time for anyone to get work done because it allows the enjoyment of the sun and ocean (two things that you need to avoid after getting tattoo work) to their hearts content.

He really didn’t know what he wanted to get, as we started talking about design, vacillating between several traditional Hawaiian symbols and placements.

 

Sorting out the gobbledegook in someone else’s mind is part of my job and thankfully this person was consistent enough in his desire to get some sort of Polynesian work done on him. Sometimes people come in and they don’t know what they want, but they know they want something (an allegory to life?). In these cases I tell them to go home and think about it since getting a tattoo shouldn’t be treated as an impulse, like say, changing your hair color or buying that Harley you’ve always wanted but never needed. Besides, I don’t want to put my time and energy into something that could be classified as trivial. But that’s just me.

 

Inside of forty-five minutes, we had established that he wanted something that exemplified his family, love of the sea, the Big Island and protection. Also, he wanted the tattoo to reflect his warrior’s spirit, although he joked that because he was now studying to become an accountant that his warrior days were presently in his rearview. Utilizing traditional Hawaiian symbolism within such parameters, his tattoo would have consisted of a smattering of triangles and squares and perhaps a petroglyph-esque rendition of various elements of the island topped off with a turtle shell. Fairly played out symbols that everyone and their mother has emblazoned on them nowadays. So, I suggested something a bit more dynamic and he agreed. Leaving me to my devices, he and his party went off to the local bar to have a few drinks. When he returned thirty minutes later, I had completed 90% of the drawing, and after making a few small modifications, we set an appointment for the following morning.

 

When doing any Ana’ole work I prefer to have some time to think about the piece, drawing up several options before finally arriving at a final design. In the case of a walk-in, I don’t have that cushion to fall back on, but as is the case with any walk-in, coming up with something on the spot is part of the challenge of creating a thought out, meaningful piece. I was very pleased with the final design, but more importantly so was the client.

 

Walking through this piece starting from the bottom and moving upwards from left to right, I decided to place the maka io, or hawk’s eye as the base for the simple fact that the hawk’s eye is a symbol of vigilance; always on the lookout for danger or opportunity. Behind the eye are lauhala checkers, which signify family and unity. Moving upwards along that same plane is the sun (which you can hardly see from this angle) which is a symbol of strength and life as well providing illumination for the maka io to see.

 

The next plane consists of a row of niho mano, or shark’s teeth, set into a wave. This is to symbolize the strength of the ocean, an object that he admittedly enjoys yet fears (as anyone should).

 

Just above that are two rows of spearheads signifying his warrior spirit. Set into these rows I put Mauna Kea to symbolize the Big Island since a volcano (albeit a dormant one) is a good way to represent the BI. Coming off of the right of this symbol are four waves which symbolize his family (at least the ones that he was traveling with this time). Since they all share a love for the sea, I have them coming into contact with the wave to illustrate this better.

 

Lastly, I put Ku the god of strength as the main hierarchal piece, to tie together the protection and power elements of the piece. Both the ku tiki and maka io are facing forward to confront anything obstacles that he may encounter in life.

 

Aloha!

 

 

PS. I promise that one day I will learn to take a proper picture!

 

Equipment used:

 

Dragonfly

Pulse, Watson

 

5RL

15M

 

Inks:

 

One

Bloodline

Silverback 3,4

 

 

This is another example of Ana’ole Poly and is in fact my first attempt at creating an entire tattoo in this style (previous to this piece I had only injected one or two subtle AP design elements into a Traditional Poly style).
Out of respect for this individual, I will briefly touch on the symbols and there general meanings instead of going into detail about the reasons why they are there.

This person came to me wanting a piece that reflected more or less his relationships with his father and mother and the area where he grew up. It is also a celebration of his passion for weight lifting (power lifting in particular). At my suggestion, he provided me with a detailed description of what he wanted each piece (arm, chest, shoulder) to represent. Instead of determining a ‘chart’ (I really do need to come up with a less metaphysical name), having someone provide his or her criteria is another way of determining what symbols should go where.

Moving on.

The chest piece speaks of his relationship with his parents and the wisdom that they have imparted upon him as a child making him the person that he is today. To symbolize this I chose to use three converging waves, two of which are connected (his parents) with the third (him) springing forth from the bottom of the two. For these I utilized the Golden Mean as the radius of the wave decreases. The insides of each wave are lined with a checkerboard pattern which symbolize the lauhala weave signifying family unity. There are two traditional Marquesan waves set into the waves to add to the continuity of the water element. There is also a turtle shell on his shoulder for protection. I chose to incorporate niho mano (sharks teeth) in all of the wave elements because at his request this piece was intended to be a little more aggressive than ornamental (niho mano are more or less the default symbol for anything from strength and courage to signifying individual family members).
Toward his sternum are sun rays overpowering darkness, symbolizing his parents illuminating his path through life by the values they have instilled in him.

I wanted to create a ‘plate’ of armor, if you will, on his chest since the secondary fundamental element of this tattoo is protection.

On his arm in the god Ku, who is the god of strength. This is a nod to his passion of power lifting. It also speaks of this persons fearlessness and courage. Weightlifting is a form of catharsis for this person so I also included an unfurling cluster of aloe leaves which symbolize healing.

On his back there are two waves, each symbolizing a respective parent. There are palm fronds set into these waves signifying their noble status. These waves are surrounded by ipu kua’aha or gourds (containers) which hold sacred objects, in this case, reflecting the individual characteristics of his mother and father. Below the waves are a Marquesan-esque gourds which represent each of the Hawaiian islands, as he wanted to celebrate his place of birth. Toward his shoulder are 5 mountains which symbolize the Big Island in particular.

This piece is 99% finished and represents 18.45 hours of work.