Posts Tagged ‘#news’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Here is some Polynesian work that I’ve done lately as well as some other pieces.

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The goddess of the wind, La’amaomao is holding the ipu (calabash) of the 32 winds of Hawaii. The god Lono, is standing on her legs and is seen behind her. Lono is both the ipu and the winds itself, being the god of fertility and wind, among other things.

Client is a kitesurfer.

Modern Marquesan.

 

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Honu is mainly asthetic with some protection thrown in for good measure.

Ana’ole style.

 

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Shoulder cap of strength and growth imagery that is done to represent the talon of a raptor.

Modern Marquesan and taulima.

 

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Shoulder cap, done Ta Moko style (Maori) with taulima influences. This shows his love of family, strength and courage as well as his love of Hawaii.

 

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Ta Moko style upper calf band meant to protect from harm and to look out for danger.

 

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Side piece donw in modern Marquesan with Ta Moko influences. This piece is represents her travel, ancestors, family and growth.

 

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Modern Marquesan, freehand. This is all about power and retaining mana.

 

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Rapanui style, ‘iwa bird.

 

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Mo’o and Honu.

 

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Blue Heron.

 

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Honu and Big Island.

 

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Father and son matching Ku tattoo’s. I tattooed the father a few years ago and so he wanted his son to have the same.

 

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Modern Marquesan chest piece, cover up.

 

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Modern Marquesan, mata kome.

 

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Olive tree branch. In memory of his daughter, Olive. She passed shortly after being born.

 

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Modern Marquesan and Ta Moko, gauntlet. ‘Iwa lani, love of Hawaii and the ocean, his family and protection.

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

 

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“The blackest, blackest, blue”

Acrylic on canvas, 60″x24″

 

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“Koi division”

Acrylic on canvas, 40″x30″

 

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“3 seasons”

Acrylic on canvas, 24″x12″

 

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“Broken light”

Acrylic on canvas, 24″x12″

 

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“Chaos/order”

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

 

 

 

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This cover up is a combination of Maori and Marquesan motifs that roughly follows a Taulima (Samoan) structure. It does not cover his old gang tattoos completely as I felt that by leaving some of the old tattoo poking through, it could serve as a reminder of sorts, of his past, so that moving forward he could have a reminder so as not to stray from the path of righteousness.
The intent of this tattoo was more aesthetic but it does have a lot of personal meaning to him as well. Growth, protection and strength form the basis for this piece.
The breakdown is as follows:

a) Koru: unfurling fern head, Maori- Life, breath, new beginnings, growth and connection to the earth.

b) Ama kopeka: fire, Marquesan- To illuminate, to cast light upon. Used here to light his path moving forward.

c) Koniho: teeth marks, Marquesan- To protect from evil.

d) Ipu ao: bowl of the earth, Marquesan- Container of mana/power, creation, life, light.

e) Unaunahi: fish scales, Maori- Abundance. bounty of the sea. Here used to represent Hawaii and aloha.

f) Mata: eye, Marquesan- To watch over, protect.

g) Niho: teeth, Marquesan- Used to protect the tattoo and the wearer from harm.

h) Pepehipu: pounded tapa cloth, Marquesan- Worn as armor, covering tattoo underneath.

i) Hope vehine: twin goddesses, Marquesan- Very simplified version of motif meant to give life, protect and symbolize creation.

j) Enana kaake: troop of warriors going to battle, Marquesan- Sacred connection, common bond, fighting for a common cause (simplified version).

k) Hoka: rays of the sun, Marquesan- Courage.

Thank you for looking, and aloha!

Aloha!

I have begun a video series on YouTube, speaking about Polynesian tattoo. This is the first video of the series. I think in total there will be 8 or so videos and I will try to produce one a month. I am asking those that wish to comment, to do so here on my blog to keep all the information in one place. Because I am a cheap bastard I cannot upload video to my blog, I can only provide a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at0-G5yV5nE

Thank you for your time and aloha,

Roland

mark_bd mark Aloha! Here is an upper arm/shoulder piece that I finished recently in Hawaiian, Marquesan and Maori styles. This client wanted a piece that spoke of his life’s ordeals, his love of the sea, his children and new beginnings. I did the overall layout in a very subtle Samoan taulima style to better integrate all of the symbols. I kept it the coverage light and airy as opposed to the very heavy aesthetic of the taulima. It can easily added to and will wear better over time. Here is the breakdown of motifs: a) na niho, this collection of many teeth/sins is Hawaiian based and speaks of the obstacles that he has had to endure and overcome throughout his life. b) this combination of kiko (dot) and small dashes representing pohaku (stone) symbolize a beach or shoreline, this is to symbolize the flow from his past challenges (a) into the present, symbolized by the beach. c) kai/nalu, ocean and waves, to speak of his love for the sea. d) mata, eye(s) to look out and protect from harm as he moves into the future. e) lei niho, garland of teeth for protection of the overall tattoo. f) ipu oto, bowl/container, this symbol represents a container of mana (power) as well as creation of the universe. In this particular example I have incorporated 4 mata, 2 above, 2 below for protection. g) kea, turtle, these 2 turtle motifs, (that can also represent a person, enana or a god, etua) are there to symbolize his children. h) koru, these 4 mirror reflected fern heads, represent a new beginning, life and breath. The configuration in this instance is representative of the Maori mangopare, which is a pattern representing the  head of the hammerhead shark. i) henna, hand, this affixes the tattoo to the body. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! Peace!

Aloha!

I thought that I would post some of the clay Scratchbord™ etchings that I have been doing lately. If you don’t know what a scratch board etching is, please let me explain: A scratch board is either a cut piece of clay (masonite) or paper, that has a slick white coated surface, underneath a thin veneer of flat black paint. Using a scraper tool (xacto knife, sculpting tools, or proper etching tools), the surface of the scratch board is slowly etched away to reveal the bright white (and some times gold, silver, or bronze) color beneath. Working from a reference, I have created many etchings, and here are some of the ones of late.

I started out doing sea life: turtles, an octopus, etc. then moved onto a celebrity, Lauren Bacall, and even a T-rex skull. Over the past month, I have decided to do etchings of musicians that have influenced me over the years.

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T-rex skull

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Octopus

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Lauren Bacall

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Sea turtle

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David Bowie

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Sea turtle 2

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Peter Tosh

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Debbie Harry

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Johnny Cash

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Frank Sinatra

I find that although etching and tattooing are worlds apart in almost every regard, there are similarities that help me to become a better tattoo artist. Etching requires patience, accuracy and utmost attention to detail; one wrong line and it all looks like hell. By focusing on these things, I have found that my tattooing technique has become much more honed. So, I do etchings on down days when I have no appointments, or between appointments if time allows.

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John Bonham

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Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols)

Most of them are quite small, 8″x8″, the largest being 8.5″x11″. I even have a stack of playing card-sized scratch boards that I have yet to tackle. 🙂

Thank you for looking!

Aloha,

Roland