Monday, March 29, 2010
Tattooing in the Western world today has its origins in Polynesia, and in the discovery of tatau by eighteenth century explorers. The Polynesian practice became popular among European sailors, before spreading to Western societies generally.There is no documented date or written background of how and when the Samoan Tattoo, or Tatau, originated, because of the fact that back in Polynesia well even before the Europeans had arrived, every event was spoken by word of mouth. There was no form of writing or transcribing, it was all by word of mouth until the missionaries arrived, the first being in the the early 1800's by various denominations,eg - Wesley/Togan missionaries, Tahiti missionaries, etc.The Samoan Tattoo (or Samoan Tatau was probably the Samoans' first form of cultural art not only expressed in their fine mats but also on themselves. As the missionaries arrived, so did the displeasure they had for the heathen practices, which they felt, were ungodly. One of these practices was the Tatau. To them it would have looked like the local witch doctors were trying to cast evil spirits from the locals in order to be accepted back into the village mainstream, with the end result an etched signature for their troubles.The missionaries went to great lengths to persuade the converted to cast away these ungodly practices of human mutilation but to no avail. The Tatau (Samoan Tattoo) had gone, as one would put it "underground" only to resurface when the numbers of recipients were too much a force to be argued with. The missionaries should have appreciated the beauty the Samoan culture had to offer in relation to what was being offered by themselves.