Friday, June 19, 2009

Hawaiian Tribal Tattoo

Tattooing was an important aspect of the Hawaiian culture, just like anywhere on the Polynesian islands. The Hawaiians even have tattoo gods and each time a member of the community gets a tattoo, prayers had to be done in the temple.

Hawaiian tribal tattoo art, known as Kakau, has been practiced for thousands of years and for a variety of purposes:

  • Personal identification: unlike other Polynesian tattoo styles, Hawaiian tattoos are used for personal identification (instead of ceremonial purposes).
  • Talisman: tattoos were believed to offer protection.
  • As a symbol of mourning for a loved one.
  • Adornment

The Hawaiian tribal tattoos were mostly black, the tattoo ink was made of a mixture of kukui nuts and sugarcane juice.

Getting a tattoo in a tribal community was not a very pleasant occasion, modern tattoo equipment was not part of tribal life. Instead they used sharp and pointy parts of animals, like bird beaks and claws, that were connected to a branch and hit with a mallet.

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