The word “tattoo” finds its origins in the Polynesian language. Cook Captain was the first to use the word “tattoo”. The origins of the practice itself have its roots in the mists of time. We owe one of the origins of this tradition to the Marquesans; and it is also over there that you will find the most skilful tattooists.
This tradition was a rite which had an initiatory and social vocation. It was done at puberty to mark an important period of an individual’s life, and was done more frequently to men than to women.
A Tattoo was a sign of beauty required by people’s social status; it also showed the strength and courage of the one wearing it, thus inspiring respect towards tattooed people.
This practice was condemned by the European missionaries and therefore it almost completely disappeared. However, in French Polynesia, it reappeared during the 80’s when local artists went on a pilgrimage to Samoa islands where the practice of the tattoo has never been lost.
Today it has its own festival – the “Tatau I Tahiti Tattonesia ” which began in 2005.
In November this festival welcomes more than 15 000 visitors and brings together the best tattooists from the Polynesian Triangle and the rest of the world.