43 Traditional Polynesian Tattoo Designs With Meanings

Let these unique tattoo designs express your unique personality and relay your story.

Written by , MA (Mass Communication) Nisha Baghadia MA (Mass Communication) Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) linkedin_icon
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Polynesian islands are indeed well-known for their beautiful and meaningful tattoo designs. So, if you want to make self-expression through body art or emphasize your unique identity through motifs on your body, Polynesian tattoo designs are what you should go for. These intricate tattoos are an essential part of the Polynesian culture as they signify the spirits and culture of the Polynesian islands. You might want to proclaim your beliefs through tattoos or show some creative freedom through. Tattoos also let you symbolize a soul combating entrapment. Whatever may be your reason behind getting yourself inked, let your body be a journal and allow your tattoos to tell your stories. Below are some unique tattoo designs from Polynesia that are worth trying. So, scroll through the page and read our article. Get your inspiration from the list we have provided below.

Meaning Of Polynesian Tattoos

Expression, whether visual, written, or verbal, allows us to distinguish ourselves from others and help us reflect upon our own beliefs. In the Polynesian islands, art was not mere art. The people of Polynesia didn’t know how to write and, hence, they used tattoos to narrate their stories. Polynesian tattoos have deep spiritual meanings. The people of Polynesia considered tattoos to be sacred. They refrained from doing certain activities during tattooing, which they thought might offend their gods.

Polynesian symbols are based on the four elements of nature. Each element is represented by a different symbol. Warriors wore symbols different from fishermen. Similarly, there were symbols specific to certain families and for distinct roles that people played in tribes. The enchanting black patterns adorning the bodies of Polynesians were illustrations of their culture, genealogy, spiritual journey, and social status. A few of the commonly incorporated symbols are:

  • Turtle: Fertility, long life, union, family, harmony, and wellness.
  • Tiki: Protection
  • Dolphin: Wisdom
  • Shark teeth: Coverage, guidance, power, and ferocity
  • Sun: Riches, brilliance, leadership, and eternity
  • Turtle shells: Protection and intimacy
  • Lizard: Guarding against evils and illness
  • Spearheads: Courage and fight
  • Enata: Human symbol
  • Ocean waves: Death or the world beyond.

In addition to these different meanings, Polynesian tattoos have a rich history that spans centuries. Learn all about it in the next section.

History Of Polynesian Tattoos

The legacy of Polynesian tattoos goes back 2000 years. Polynesia, as some people think, is not a single island. It is made up of thousands of Pacific islands. Every island has its unique history of tattoos. All these islands had different tattoo masters who passed on their knowledge of tattooing to their apprentices.

The English word ‘tattoo’ comes from the Tahitian word ‘tautau.’ In English, the word ‘tattoo was adopted in writing only during the late 16th century when Captain Cook visited a part of Polynesia and recorded the word in his journal.

This long history of tattooing in Polynesia was suspended in the 19th century with the advent of a foreign faith. Christian missionaries from the West attempted to eliminate tattooing in the Polynesian islands on the grounds of it being barbaric and inhumane. The bans imposed during the colonization period completely wiped out the tattooing tradition of some of the Polynesian islands like Tonga and Tahiti. Many young Polynesians became hostile towards mission schools since they forbade them to wear tattoos. Gradually, the attitude towards the tattoo culture of Polynesia relaxed and slowly the long-suppressed body art tradition reemerged.

Finally, after 150 years of religious suppression, tattoos have returned to their rightful place as cultural symbols of Polynesia. If you are looking for some of the best Polynesian tattoo ideas, check out the following section.

43 Polynesian Tattoo Designs With Meanings

1. Feminine Polynesian Tattoo Female

 

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Polynesian tattoos require a big canvas and this tattoo spreads from the neck to the back to the arm, looking spectacular. The addition of symbols and traditional patterns adds to the symbolism of these tattoos. The Plumeria flower adds a feminine touch to the design while the overall design is an ode to the season of Saffron. You may also combine other traditional motifs in the design to add to the tattoo’s meaning.

2. Traditional Polynesian Tattoo

Taniwha in the Polynesian culture is a wrathful dragon species that is the spirit of the water. It is known for its duality. The dragon can be very vengeful when angered but can also act as a protector, depending on the situation. The presence of this symbol in your traditional Polynesian tattoo may serve as a talisman and keep you safe from evil forces.

3. Forearm Half Sleeve Polynesian Tattoo

Polynesian half-sleeve tattoos start just below the elbow and extend down to the wrist. They combine bold lines and symbols significant to culture. Geometric patterns like triangles and intricate interlocking shapes fill in the spaces and add depth to the design. The tattoo symbolizes balance, harmony, and unity.

4. Polynesian Plumeria Tattoo

Plumeria flowers are known for their vibrant color and delicate petals. They are a significant symbol in the Polynesian culture and symbolize beauty, grace, and the bond between loved ones. The flowers blend perfectly with the intricate Polynesian patterns and the tattoo’s placement, from the shoulder to the back, makes the design look even more feminine.

5. Shoulder Polynesian Tattoo Design

 

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This tattoo has a perfect balance and flow. Its elements are carefully arranged to complement the natural contours of the shoulder. This creates a harmonious and aesthetic composition. Plus, the design is simple and not too intricate, making it perfect for anyone looking for a minimalistic tattoo.

6. Hawaiian Flower Polynesian Tattoo

 

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A spine piece on the upper back is another great choice for a Polynesian tattoo. The Hawaiian hibiscus flower is the focus of the design that blends perfectly with the intricate Polynesian pattern. The tattoo as a whole looks vibrant and elegant and symbolizes beauty and grace. The tattoo reminds the wearer to embrace the essence of nature’s beauty and carry themselves with grace.

7. Female Polynesian Neck Tattoo

 

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If you are looking for a feminine neck tattoo, a small design right under the ear is a perfect placement. The use of dot work to complement fine and bold lines in the design makes it even more appealing. The tattoo is undoubtedly a bold and striking choice and honors the rich traditions of the Pacific Islands.

8. Polynesian Face Tattoo

 

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Polynesian face tattoos are also known as “tā moko” in the Maori culture of New Zealand. This tattoo features intricate patterns and bold shading on the entire forehead. The other part of the design starts from the jawline and has some aesthetic dotwork. The piece also features a mantra under the jawline and extends to the neck. It symbolizes the wearer’s identity, heritage, and social status within their community.

9. Polynesian Chest Tattoo

This Polynesian tattoo is a stunning fusion of spiritual and cultural symbolism. It features an Om symbol in the middle that symbolizes the universe and the interconnectedness of all things. It merges perfectly with the Polynesian motifs around it. Together, these elements represent a harmony between different spirituality, traditions, and cultures.

10. Polynesian Octopus Tattoo

 

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The octopus is an important part of the Polynesian mythology. Legends say, its eight arms reach the farthest points of the Polynesian triangle and connect it in an abstract geometrical symbol. It also symbolizes family connections or trade relationships. The tattoo requires ample space to demonstrate the sea animal’s form perfectly. You may get it either on your entire arm or leg.

11. Polynesian Warrior Tattoo

Warrior tattoos in the Polynesian culture often combine different elements that have unique meanings. This calf band is a combination of spearhead, tiki, ocean, turtle, shark teeth, and the Marquesan sign. The spearhead gives the design its warrior spirit, while the tiki symbolizes protection. The other symbols represent persistence, peace, power, guidance, and prosperity.

12. Polynesian Armband Tattoo

Armband tattoos are a popular choice for both men and women. This tattoo with clean lines and intricate designs features a Polynesian Hammerhead shark. Since these sharks move in large groups, they may symbolize sociality. They also represent traits, such as tenacity, strength, and determination.

13. Polynesian Wrist Tattoo

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Polynesian body art is usually large and detailed. However, if you need a smaller piece, this wristband design will be perfect. The simple tattoo features bold shading and interconnected spearhead details. The interconnectedness represents the circle of life and the bonds between families and communities. Overall, the design symbolizes strength, resilience, and unity.

14. Polynesian Calf Tattoo

 

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This calf tattoo is all about fine lines and intricate details. It wraps perfectly around the calf to form a band and is ideal for both men and women. The design also features a half sun just above the band that symbolizes rebirth, leadership, and grandness. Overall, the tattoo pays homage to the rich traditions and symbolism of the Pacific islands.

15. Polynesian Scorpion Tattoo

This tattoo features the scorpion in a stylized manner with intricate linework and shapes. The predatory animal is often seen as a symbol of danger. However, in Polynesian culture, it represents protection, strength, and adaptability. It may also symbolize the ability needed to overcome challenges. Depending on the size of the scorpion, you may get this tattoo on various placements, such as the calf, thigh, back, and forearm.

16. Polynesian Lion Tattoo

The lion represents royalty and nobility and symbolizes traits, such as courage, strength, and leadership. Sometimes, it also represents guardianship and protection. The portrayal of the animal with the Polynesian tattooing technique captures these qualities perfectly. Plus, the band-like appearance of the design adds to the tattoo’s overall appeal.

17. Polynesian Dolphin Tattoo

Dolphins in Hawaiian Polynesian culture represent the aloha spirit. It symbolizes peace, compassion, love, respect, and mutual understanding. The aquatic animals are also a symbol of wisdom, friendship, and harmony. Their depiction in Polynesian body art involves the use of intricate patterns and shapes that add to the aesthetic appeal of the design.

18. Polynesian Bear Tattoo

The chest, upper arm, and back are the most common placements for Polynesian bear tattoos. The wild animal symbolizes a strong connection to the land and nature. It also represents qualities, such as strength, courage, protection, and leadership. The tattoo reminds the wearer to embrace their inner power and live life bravely.

19. Polynesian Palm Tree Tattoo

Coconuts from palm trees were a major resource for Polynesians during the settlement of the Pacific. Therefore, palm trees hold a significant place in the culture. Apart from that, this tattoo may also represent the idea of finding your home, as they serve as navigation landmarks for sailors. The tropical trees may also symbolize relaxation and joy.

20. Polynesian Butterfly Tattoo

This tattoo combines Polynesian graphics with a pink butterfly and a bird of paradise. The butterfly in the Polynesian culture symbolizes healing and transformation. Therefore, it may represent new beginnings, growth, and spiritual evolution. The bird of paradise with its bright colors represents the beauty and abundance that awaits those who embrace this change happily.

21. Polynesian Spine Tattoo

This bold and striking tattoo is a perfect blend of tradition and modernity. It follows the natural curvature of the spine and features a straight band that is made up entirely of Polynesian motifs. It represents strength and stability. The flowers that surround that band add to the overall appeal of the design and give it a feminine touch.

22. Polynesian Whale Tattoo

Whales in the Polynesian culture symbolize family and tradition. Many people get these tattoos to pay respect to their cultural heritage or honor their deceased loved ones or ancestors. The tattoos feature stylized representations of a blue whale using fine lines and intricate patterns. The entire design flows dynamically and fits placements, such as the arm and leg.

23. Polynesian Sun And Moon Tattoo

A traditional Polynesian tattoo is usually black and gray, but this contemporary interpretation follows a broader color palette. It features a sun depicted in shades of red and a crescent moon in shades of green. The sun symbolizes eternity and prosperity, while the moon represents femininity and the cycles of nature. Together, these elements represent the balance of opposing forces.

24. Polynesian Turtle Tattoo

Polynesian turtle tattoo to symbolize health, fertility, peace, and longevity of life
Image: Instagram @cc3101sp

Turtle tattoos are popular and play an important role throughout all Polynesian cultures. Turtle or honu is considered a symbol of health, fertility, peace, foundation, and longevity in life.

The word hono, which means ‘turtle’ in the Marquesan language, has several meanings attached to it. It also represents the idea of unity and stitching together families. Turtles are often designed with many patterns and symbols to express different meanings.

A blogger shared the importance and significance behind their Polynesian tattoo of four turtles swimming toward their wrist. They wrote, “When I leave Hawai’i, I get really “homesick” and sad, and my tattoo is there to remind me that Hawai’i will always be with me, even if I’m not physically there. And the turtles will always be there to help me find my way back home (i).”

Polynesian people revere the sea as a source of food, and they also believe it to be the world beyond where they will rest after death. Since these reptiles move both on land and in water, Polynesians believed that turtles bring them closer to their final resting place.

25. Polynesian Enata Tattoo

The typical Polynesian enata tattoo symbolizing life, birth, and experiences
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Enata is a typical motif found in Samoan tattoos. This symbol depicts the relationships between humans and also the ones they share with the gods. This symbol originates from the Marquesas language and symbolizes life experiences, birth, and rank in society.

A combination of symbols along with the Enata can be used to represent relationships, such as marriage, family, relatives, and friends. An inverted Enata symbolizes an enemy.

26. Polynesian Tiki Tattoo

Polynesian Tiki tattoo manifesting protection, fertility, and guardianship
Image: Instagram @guteixeiratattoo

Tiki is the name given to human-like Polynesian demigods. Demigods are representative of deified ancestors, chiefs, and priests.

Tiki symbolizes protection, fertility, and guardianship. Sometimes, the Tiki organs are used to represent different meanings.

27. Polynesian Back Tattoo

Authentic Polynesian tribal art tattoo to flaunt on your back
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Polynesian tribal art requires a big canvas, so what better choice than your back? Polynesian back tattoos weave beautiful combinations of intricate designs and motifs that cover the whole upper part of your back. Balancing shades are used to lend them the authentic Polynesian tribal art look.

28. Polynesian Ocean Tattoo

Polynesian ocean tattoo representing life, death, persistence, and change
Image: Instagram @keahitattoo

The ocean plays a vital role in the life of Polynesian people. They consider it to be their second home, the place where they will rest when they leave for their last voyage. Therefore, it is the symbol of death and the world beyond.

Since the ocean is a source of food for Polynesian people, it also represents life, fertility, and persistence. The stylization of the waves can be representative of life, change, or continuity through change.

29. Polynesian Sun Tattoos

Polynesian sun tattoo symbolizing rebirth
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Many rounded Polynesian tattoos include the sun symbol. The sun is representative of riches, brilliance, grandness, and leadership.

The rising sun is symbolic of rebirth, and sunset is regarded as the passage to the world beyond. The periodic rising of the sun is regarded as eternity and the consistent source through which life thrives.

30. Polynesian Leg Tattoo

An intricate Polynesian leg tattoo
Image: Instagram @dennismataafa

If you are someone who does not like flaunting or likes to keep your identity or beliefs secret, then your leg can be the perfect alternate area to place a tattoo. The leg tattoo can be just on your calf area or may extend up to your thigh. Most women prefer to get inked on their foot and seldom extend it up to their ankle.

31. Polynesian Sleeve Tattoo

A detailed Polynesian sleeve tattoo design to flaunt on your arms
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Dwayne Johnson’s impressive and intricate sleeve tattoo is admired by all. It is a typical Samoan tattoo. Samoan tattoos combine many symbols and are usually huge and intricate. The best spot to sport one is your arm.

32. Samoan Polynesian Tribal Tattoo

Detailed Polynesian Samoan tribal tattoo idea for your arms
Image: Instagram @kahilitatau

These tribal tattoos consist of long strokes that look like ribbons. These designs involve mostly linear elements, which is why they are worn mostly around the arm but can fit on any other part of the body as well.

33. Polynesian Shark Teeth Tattoo

The ferocious Polynesian shark teeth tattoo to symbolize guidance and power
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

The shark teeth symbol, known as niho mano in Polynesian language, is very popular among Polynesian tattoo fans. Shark teeth are representative of courage, guidance, power, ferocity, and adaptability. They are a part of most Polynesian tattoos. Sharks also represent the god of Polynesian people.

34. Polynesian Samoan Flower Tattoo

A gorgeous Samoan tribal floral tattoo idea to flaunt on your arms
Image: Instagram @blacklinetattoo_limoges

Floral designs make gorgeous tattoos. You get to choose from a lot of options when it comes to floral designs in Samoan tattoos. The most preferred floral tattoo designs are the hibiscus and lotus flowers with tentacles.

35. Polynesian Shell Tattoo

The ubiquitous Polynesian shell tattoo for the arms
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

The shell is a ubiquitous symbol in Polynesian tattoos. They can be seashells or turtle shells, though the latter is more famous because of their significance in Polynesian culture.

Turtle shells symbolize fertility, peace, wealth, and longevity of life. A few intricate turtle shells designs might carry more meaning depending on the elements embedded in them.

Seashell designs come with many variations and stylizations. Seashells are representative of shield, protection, and intimacy.

36. Polynesian Spearhead Motifs

Polynesian spearhead motif tattoo symbolizing courage
Image: Instagram @barrysan

Another classic symbol that is extensively used in Polynesian tattoos is the spearhead motif. Spearhead is a symbol of courage and warrior nature. It also represents sharp items and the sting of animals. Spearhead symbols are used in combination with other symbols to express different meanings.

37. Polynesian Fish Tattoo

Polynesian fish tattoo representing fertility, riches, and life
Image: Instagram @ashjasmer

In Polynesian culture, fish is a symbol of prosperity, riches, fertility, and life. Particular parts of fish are used to represent different meanings. For example, shark teeth are used to symbolize protection and guidance. The fish symbol is widely used in Polynesian tattoo designs.

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Which body area would you choose for a Polynesian tattoo?

38. Marquesan Cross Tattoo

The origin of the Marquesan cross is unknown, but some archaeological studies show that it is related to the turtle shell. The Marquesan cross is a popular design that is widely used in Polynesian tattoos. It symbolizes the balance between elements and harmony.

39. Polynesian Upper Arm Tattoo

A Polynesian tribal art tattoo to flaunt on the upper arm
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Polynesian tribal tattoos are one of the most ancient arm decoration traditions of the world. You can get your upper arm sheathed with beautiful and significant Polynesian tattoo designs. These beautiful cyclical designs start at a center point with concentric and meaningful symbols added until perfection is attained. Polynesian tribal tattoos can be worn on your upper arm to exhibit your story and beliefs.

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Dwayne Johnson is a Polynesian celebrity with a huge Polynesian tattoo on his left shoulder. It took around 60 hours to complete.

40. Multiple Polynesian Symbols Tattoo

Multiple exotic Polynesian symbols representing the culture
Image: Instagram @babakhintatau

Polynesian symbols are not only exotic but also have deep cultural and spiritual meanings attached to them. Each symbol has something to say about the individual who wears it. Polynesian tattoos give you that personal crest to tell your own unique story. You can use a combination of symbols to adorn your body.

41. Polynesian Thigh Tattoo

An intricate Polynesian tattoo design to flaunt on the thighs
Image: Instagram @all.poly

Getting inked on the thighs is ideal for someone who does not want to flaunt their tattoos all the time. The meaning of thigh tattoos differs from design to design. Always choose a design based on your personality and not on an impulse.

42. Polynesian Back Tattoo With Turtle Motif

The Polynesian turtle tattoo representing culture and spirituality
Image: Instagram

The turtle symbol is of great significance in the Polynesian culture. It is regarded as a good force in Polynesian culture and, hence, is a good sign to bear. You can combine the turtle symbol with a few other symbols to carve out a complex and intricate design on your back that represents deep spiritual and cultural meaning.

43. Stingray Polynesian Tattoo

Stingray Polynesian tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

The stingray is one of the most popular designs in Polynesian culture. With its intricate patterns and bold lines, the stingray symbolizes adaptability, strength, and protection. Getting it tattooed is believed to ward off negative energy and protect one against evil or potential harm. The stingray is also symbolic of one’s connection to the ocean and nature.

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Rihanna has a Polynesian tattoo on her right hand which she got during her trip to New Zealand for her Diamonds World Tour.

Polynesian tattoos are bold, unique, and stunning. But did you know it took months to get them back in the old days? Learn more about it in the next section.

The Process Of Getting Inked

Unlike today, where you walk into a tattoo studio and tell the artist what motifs you want to adorn your body with, in Polynesian times, the “master” (tattoo artist) decided the design of your tattoo based on your social status. Getting tattooed was an excruciatingly painful procedure.

The traditional method of tattooing in Polynesia involves the use of chisel-like tools. Men in Polynesian culture were expected to undergo up to 3 to 4 months of tattooing. The sessions lasted until dusk or until the pain was unbearable.

The tattoo master tapped designs into the skin with mallets and tattoo combs dipped in ink. The risk of infections also ran high. But neither the pain nor the risk of infection was as big an ordeal as to live with the title of a coward.

Getting a Polynesian tattoo, especially one which incorporates a lot of details, is painful. Of course, you can get it done with a tattoo gun, unlike the traditional Polynesian procedure in which a tattoo comb is used.

I’m sure you are intrigued to learn about the rich tattooing culture of Polynesians. If you are planning to get yourself tattooed with one of these symbols, make sure you know its significance and meaning. To wear these body motifs just because they are exotic and not to understand their purpose is blasphemy.

When it comes to Polynesian tattoo designs, their placements also play a role in their symbolism. Scroll down to the next section to learn more about it.

Placement On The Body

Tattoo placement on the body carries important significance in Polynesian culture. However, it may vary across different Polynesian ethnic groups and tribes. Tattoos placed on the chest, shoulders, arms, and hands symbolize strength, bravery, and protection. On the other hand, tattoos placed on the legs, waist, and hips symbolize procreation, sexuality, and a person’s progress in life, while the tattoos on the back are symbolic of guidance and support. Hence, think about the tattoo and placement carefully before getting one.

Infographic: Symbolic Elements In Polynesian Tattoos

Polynesian tattoos are growing increasingly popular in the world of body art. While the overall aesthetic and style of these tattoos is incredibly appealing, one must remember that it is deeply sacred for Polynesians themselves. There is no harm in getting a tattoo inspired by their cultures, but the least we can do is learn about and embrace them with the utmost respect. Check out the infographic below that lists some of the symbolic elements used in Polynesian tattoos.

symbolic elements in polynesian tattoos (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Polynesian tattoos designs are common and popular because of their deep spiritual meaning and intricate patterns. These tattoos help make self-expressions and unique identities through body art.

There are several intricate designs mentioned above to help you choose the one that represents your personality and emotions. There are turtle designs, Enata tattoos, demi-gods, sun tattoos, ocean tattoos, tribal tattoos, etc., to choose from the list. Each tattoo represents fertility, experience, birth, Polynesian heritage, protection, guardianship, courage, and power.

Going through this list will help you get an idea of the different meanings associated with these designs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it still possible to get a Polynesian tattoo with traditional tools?

No, it is not possible to get a Polynesian tattoo with traditional wooden and bone tools, as they were banned by the authorities in 1986. This is because these tools could not be sterilized, which increased the risk of infections. Also, tattoos using traditional tools take months to finish and can be extremely painful.

Can someone who is not Polynesian get a Polynesian tattoo?

Yes, someone who is not Polynesian can get a Polynesian tattoo. However, it is important to understand the meanings behind the different symbols used in them. This will ensure that you are not disrespecting the culture.

Is it ok to add letters for the Polynesian tattoo design?

Yes, it is generally acceptable to add letters to a Polynesian tattoo design. However, it is necessary to ensure that the letters fit within the cultural context and aesthetic of the design. You can consult a tattoo artist familiar with Polynesian tattooing traditions to ensure this.

Is it offensive to Polynesian people when non-Polynesians get their tattoos?

No, it is generally not offensive. However, it may also depend on the tattoo design. For instance, many Polynesians get tatau, a sacred Polynesian tattoo to honor their ancestors and the sacrifices made by them. A non-Polynesian getting it may be considered demeaning.

Is it disrespectful to get a Polynesian tattoo?

It depends on the intent behind getting the tattoo. Simply getting a Polynesian tattoo without understanding its meaning and significance to the culture is disrespectful. On the other hand, taking time to learn about their symbols and significance and telling your own story with a Polynesian tattoo is respectful.

Is a Maori and Polynesian tattoo the same?

Maori tattoos are a type of Polynesian tattoo, the others being Samoan, Hawaiian, Marquesan, and Tahitian. A Maori tattoo typically has swirling patterns.

What is the Polynesian symbol for “family”?

Polynesian symbols for “family” are based on three aspects: family groups, ancestry, and traditions. Symbols like the ipu and ani ata (Marquesan), tapa’au (Tahitian), kapau’i (Hawaiian), ritorito, fa’avaetuli (Samoan), and the turtle represent a family.

What do triangles mean in Polynesian tattoos?

Triangles don’t have one meaning in Polynesian tattoo art. While they are commonly used to symbolize shark teeth, they may also mean shells, roots, or mountains. One of the most common triangular symbols is lō kahi, a significant symbol in the Polynesian culture. It signifies the bond between life and death (light and darkness) in our life journey.

At what age do Polynesians get tattoos?

Polynesian boys get tattoos when they are 14-18 years old as a coming-of-age rite of passage. The girls get their tattoos when they get their menstrual cycle.

Do Polynesian tattoos have color?

Though most Polynesian tattoos are black, you can add color to them too.

Key Takeaways

  • Tattooing was an important tradition in Polynesia until it was suppressed during colonization in the 19th century. It reemerged after nearly 150 years.
  • Polynesian tattoos have deep cultural and spiritual meanings related to the wearer’s genealogy, journey, and status often depicting symbols such as turtles, sharks, suns, waves, and shells, each holding a specific meaning.
  • Tattoos are considered to be sacred in Polynesian culture. Other activities are generally ceased during the tattooing process to prevent offending the Polynesian gods.
  • Intricate sleeve and back tattoos are common, incorporating multiple meaningful symbols.
polynesian tattoo designs

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Discover the beauty of Polynesian tattoo designs in the following video that explores the unique collections of traditional and modern tattoo ideas, perfect for any style.

Personal Experience: Source

Nisha Baghadia

Nisha BaghadiaContributor

Nisha is a contributor to StyleCraze and has 3 years of experience in content writing for different genres. She is a makeup aficionado and combines her love for makeup and writing to provide her readers with the latest information in the beauty world. When she is not working, Nisha loves trying out the newest makeup fads and curling up with...read full bio

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