January 1 2008

The art of Polynesian tattoos and traditional motifs, is considered one of the most artistic, beautiful and complex forms of tattooing in the ancient world. This ancient art has evolved over thousands of years, pre-dating the arrival of European Explorers in the South Pacific by centuries.

arm and shoulder tribal tattooTraditionally there is no writing in the Polynesian culture, the Polynesians used the art of tattoo and distinctive signs to express their identity, personality and their life story. Polynesians began wearing their life experiences on the skin at around age twelve. Unfortunately, thousands of years of tradition came to an abrupt end shortly after the missionaries arrival in the islands during the late 18th century. The missionaries strictly banned the practice of tattooing, as the Old Testament forbids it.

Today there are only a handful of true Masters who practice this ancient art, living in the islands of French Polynesia.

“Bound to his culture”

Tautu is one of these few masters who travel the world sharing this art form, and who continue to practice the ways of his ancestors. Through him, you will discover the history and share the wonders, magic and the beauty of his culture and heritage. Throughout his travels, Tautu also enjoys enlightening the public on the practices of this ancient art; and to advise them as to the proper use of his ancestor’s designs.

After more than two centuries of the banning of tattoos in Polynesia, two of Tautu’s cousins went to the islands of Samoa in order to locate documents on the ancient practices of their ancestors. At the age of fourteen, Tautu was initiated into the art of traditional tattooing, when he began his apprenticeship by assisting his cousins and other tattooists. After five years as an apprentice he was finally declared ready to execute his first tattoo. Fifteen years have now passed since Tautu began making his mark of traditional Polynesian Tatau.

A true Polynesian tattoo is part of a culture that should be respected. Here are some guidelines for creating your personal Polynesian tattoo:

The ancient art of Tatau (to mark the time) is something beautiful which marks events/transformations in our lives.

Take the time to research prior to putting these marks on your body and make sure that your tattoo artist is educated in the culture and fully understands their meanings.

Understand that certain images are sacred and considered taboo/forbidden for anyone to use outside of the Polynesian culture. Some of these marks require a right-of-passage while others are safe for you to wear. After all, you would not want to put something on your body that does not belong to you.

Tatau Tribal Tatoos on forearm Your tattoo should be a reflection of your spirit and should tell your story so take the time to search your heart for what your tattoo represents to you. Think about what you have accomplished, where you are in your life and what is important to you at this moment in time.

Your tattoo may offer you spiritual protection, stability or continuity for you and your loved ones, a special event or a journey; again either spiritual or physical travel.

Elements of yourself such as earth, air, water and fire signs could be incorporated and perhaps your individual traits such as strength, courage, and creativity. Some choose to honour ancestors or family members.

As an Ambassador for his Culture, Tautu has spent the last 5 years travelling back and forth between his islands and Canada as well as Hawaii , California, New York, France & Australia.

He has enjoyed attending the Canadian Motorcycle Shows, in both Calgary and Edmonton for the past two years where clients walked away with a little piece of his culture on their skin. As well in 2007, Tautu attended the Calgary Tattoo and Arts show and was a guest at Harley-Davidson Medicine Hat, where he participated in the 5th Provincial Hog Rally as one of the judges for their tattoo competition.

Tautu has enjoyed representing his art throughout Western Canada and plans to continue through to the east coast of Canada over the next few years. We met up with Tautu and his wife, Tepua, at the Calgary and Edmonton MMIC shows last January. His portfolio was very intriguing and he offered to share many stories of his life and culture. In no time you will undoubtedly find yourself the next in line for a tattoo like no other and the next 45 minutes to an hour will be filled with a lesson or two on Polynesian culture.

Presently, Tautu & Tepua have returned to their home in the islands and will not be present for the 2008 Canadian Motorcycle show season, however, you may happen upon them in British Columbia in March and April and in Alberta in May and June of 2008.

For more information check out www.taututattoo.com

To contact Tautu please send your emails to: taututattoo@yahoo.com


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