Polynesian Tattoos History, Meanings and Culture Explained

The specialty of tattoos was considered a sacred craftsmanship in Polynesian culture. A tattoo was inked in a service with drum beats and tribal dance. A person who needed the tattoo needed to take after a series of rituals, both prior and then afterward inking of the tattoo. Prior, tattoos were done using rough hardware like bird and animal bones, turtle shells, bamboos and the similar instruments. These tattoos took quite a while to recuperate, yet people loved them. They symbolized fearlessness, power, and positioning in society.


The time of qualification to get a tattoo, was 12 years, as this age is considered a transition from adolescence to adulthood. Each accomplishment was congratulated with a tattoo. The more number of achievements, the more would be the tattoos. In Polynesian culture, having several tattoos on the body was a matter of prestige. These tattoos were made on men, as well as on the womenfolk of the tribes. Notwithstanding, the parts of the body for tattooing ladies was constrained to the arms, jaw, lips, and palms.

Polynesian tattoos are an excellent bit of workmanship. Be that as it may, before you complete a Polynesian tattoo, please research as the tattoos have distinctive meanings in various islands because of their diverse cultures. A tattoo should be novel and it should mirror your personality and the message you need to depict. Keep in mind to watch over your tattoo, once you complete it. A tattoo that has been cared for well always looks fresh and delightful.

Polynesian Tattoo Styles

Polynesians use two styles in their tattoo designs.


Etua has a religious and spiritual significance. This style also makes use of mysterious symbols, which are accepted to offer insurance from the Gods.


Enata has regular designs which portray a person’s social status, character, occupation, island of source, and his history.

Most Polynesian tattoos symbolize mettle, power, achievements, security, and blessings from the Gods. On the off chance that you need to pick a Polynesian design for your tattoo, then you have to realize what they symbolize. Getting a tattoo is serious business and you should be absolutely sure of the design that you are getting.

Polynesian Tattoo Elements

These elements should give you a brilliant starting point to visualize the look of your next tattoo as opposed to discretionary seeking a Polynesian tattoo design. We’re also presenting you with the meanings and symbolism for every component, as there’s nothing worse than getting a tattoo you don’t understand. Polynesian tattooing has a profound history and importance, respect the convention by visiting artists who have demonstrated their specialty.

Shark Teeth (Niho Mano)

In Polynesian legend sharks represent the divine force of Polynesian individuals, thus, shark teeth are profoundly predominant in the greater part of Polynesian tattooing. Sharks teeth – a symbol for shelter, scope, direction, force, savagery, and flexibility – can be displayed in a variation of combinations (as individual rows, different rows, even, vertical, and so on.).


The sun has profound importance in Polynesian tattooing. By and large – prosperity, splendor, grandiosity, and leadership – however in conjunction with different elements of Polynesian tattooing, the sun can tackle distinctive meanings. The sun’s rays, size, and shape would all be able to express an alternate associated meanings. A rising sun can be associated with resurrection, while a sunset can be associated with life following death.


In Polynesian tattooing there are Turtle Shells, and Sea Shells. Turtle Shells share significance with their turtle partner (long life, family, concordance and so on.). Sea shells then again represent assurance, a shield, and in certain cases closeness. It’s normal to see both types of shells in Polynesian tattooing, underneath we’ve delineated a set of Turtle Shells.


Enata are used in Polynesian tattooing to symbolize both gods and men and rank in society. In like manner design a reversed Enata can be used for representing a foe, and a mix of Enata can be used to represent a defensive structure. Enata can also be used to shape other conventional Polynesian tattoo elements, such as the Turtle you can read about underneath.


Regular meanings for the Turtle in Polynesian tattooing are wellness, ripeness, family, concordance, and a long life (time everlasting). Turtles also go about as a navigational aide. Extraordinarily a turtle can be framed by brushing two Enata in parallel.


Spearheads are normally used in almost all Polynesian Tattoo Ideas. They’re used to express valor, predominance, and self-discipline – and are a staple of Polynesian design. Like the sun, spearheads are used in conjunction with specific elements to pass on various meanings. For instance; a line of spearheads parallel to a line of upside down Enata can represent the annihilation of one’s enemies.


The Tiki is a symbol of the Polynesian Semi-Gods. As a Guardian, the Tiki mostly represents assurance. Distinctive elements of the Tiki can symbolize diverse meanings; for instance, when the nose is seen to sniff it means that it is sensing peril before its entry.

Reptile (Moko)

Lizards and Geckos are viewed as forms of Gods with regards to Polynesian tattoo design. These gods are called “Moko”, co-by the way Moko is the name for facial tattooing in the Maori culture. Lizards are viewed as the ancestors of the Polynesian individuals with the ability to overcome any issues between the spirit world, and the living.

Marquesan Cross

The Marquesan Cross is broadly used in Polynesian Tattooing to symbolize a harmony between elements, or an agreement. Regularly confused with Lizard symbols; a distinguishing element is the absence of a tail, or head in the Marquesan Cross. The birthplace of the component is still obscure to this day.


The Polynesian individuals profoundly see the ocean as their last destination when they pass away, consequently the Ocean in Polynesian tattooing can represent demise, and a the great beyond. The ocean has a double significance in that it also represents a sustenance source, ripeness, and persistence. The ocean is the finished lifecycle.

Tattoo and Culture

We should investigate the social significance of these tattoos, in the diverse islands of the Pacific Ocean

Cook Island Tattoos

The tattoos in the Cook Island included markings associating the wearer to his or her tribe.

Tahitian Tattoos

In Tahiti, tattoos were inked on the basis of social standing and positioning. Just tribe members having a place with the privileged were tattooed. These tattoos were inked everywhere throughout the body, and sometimes on the face.

Marquesan Tattoos

The specialty of tattooing is a critical aspect in the culture of this island. Tattoos were worn to improve physical appearance, signify the passage of life, and to show the positioning of a person in the tribe or society.

Hawaiian Tattoos

Hawaiian tattoos were scratched for a person’s ID or simply as a fashionable show-stopper on the wearer’s body. The tattoos were accepted to shield the wearer from mishaps. These tattoos were also inked to respect the dead, who were close to the wearer.

Maori Tattoos

The Maori tattoos of New Zealand, have distinctive spiral designs, which signify strength, boldness, social status, and passion. The tattoos contain markings and uncover the positioning of a person, furthermore signify the wearer’s passage of life.

Samoan Tattoos

A Samoan tattoo, resemble a documentation, telling the story of the person who sports the tattoo. It contains rank, age, and social standing. These tattoos are vast and confounded. They are embellished by both men and ladies.

Easter Island Tattoos

Tattoos worn by the general population of this island have religious significance. It is trusted that these tattoos make the skin blessed, so that the wearer can speak with God.

Tonga Tattoos

Tonga tattoos, are fundamentally the same as Samoan tattoos, telling the biography of the wearer and showing his positioning in society and his age.

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Leo is the best. So far 2 tattoos and everybody loves them.
I came into this shop as a walk-in. I almost left because they didn't have any open artists. Then, an artist by the name Leo hooked me up and was able to tat me up. Thank you all for the hospitality. You are all awesome.
James Clesceri
James Clesceri
Slaine did a fantastic job - best tattoo I’ve ever gotten done. He is very experienced and knowledgeable and listened carefully for exactly what I wanted. Highly recommend!
Natalie Gallagher
Natalie Gallagher
I would 100% recommend this place to anyone wanting a tattoo!! The customer service is beyond spot on. My friend and I wanted to get tattoos but could only do it on a certain day, and Anna, our tattoo artist offered to come in on her day off!! She was so kind to do this for us. She was very insightful when it came to our tattoos. Not only was she helpful but she was hilarious as well, she made our day. She made us feel at ease and the tattoo process itself was very fast. 10/10 would recommend Anna!!
Riley Holiman
Riley Holiman
Brandon does awesome work! My hubby of 23 years and I got matching tattoos and we love them! The picture is from day 2! Amazing color saturation and now barely a week out and it's almost completely healed. Thanks Brandon! My daughter and I will see you in July for my next tattoo and her first!! Edit 7/1/23: Brandon YOU FREAKING ROCK!!! My 20yo getting her first tattoo and myself getting a long awaited tattoo for myself can't begin to explain how much we love our tattoos! The lines are super crisp and clean, the definition is phenomenal! Thank you thank you!!
Amy Sutton
Amy Sutton
Had an appointment consult with Horimiya. Even if you feel like they're rushing, don't fret, they're good at what they do. Reasonably priced, excellent work. Will update soon.
Juan Villafana
Juan Villafana
My wife and i came in for couple's tattoos for her birthday. We visited from out of town and Anna did a great job and worked with us to get what we needed. While here i observed everyone in the shop being awesome and straightforward to every customer. Definitely recommend this shop. Anna is really really good!
Chris Chapman
Chris Chapman