Polynesian tattoos are considered among the most original tribal tattoos. Polynesian tribal tattoos with meanings are based on sketches that don’t fail to attract attention. They are original, fresh and beautiful as well, not to mention their symbolic value. In this regard, there’s no wonder that people who want to decorate their bodies in a meaningful way choose Polynesian tattoos.
Among Europeans, this direction in the art of contemporary tattooing has appeared a long time ago. However, it has gained popularity sometime in the first half of the 20th century. Moreover, tribal tattoos were included in the fashion category as well. This is because the technique used to ink the chosen design is very complex and not everyone can apply it.
As soon as Polynesian tribal tattoos with meanings became trendier, everyone started to like their characteristic unusual, strange and original ornaments. More specifically, tattoo artists combine elements such as waves, spirals, zigzag, geometric shapes and so on. Celebrities like actor Dwayne Johnson was charmed by this tattoo style, so why wouldn’t you?
As it follows, you will not only look at pictures with amazing Polynesian tribal tattoos with meanings, but you will also learn valuable information about them!
1. The mask and other symbols embedded in a shoulder blade tattoo
2. Symbols like the Sun can be identified in this tattoo design
3. Tribal tattoos may contain flowers for the beauty of the element
4. There is meaning in each line and pattern that you see in this design
- 1 A Short History of Polynesian Tribal Tattoos With Meanings
- 2 Symbols Often Met in Polynesian Tribal Tattoo Designs
- 3 Smaller, Equally Important Polynesian Symbols
- 4 Polynesian Tribal Tattoo Designs With Meanings – The Original Purpose
A Short History of Polynesian Tribal Tattoos With Meanings
The origin of such complex tattoo designs is quite interesting. These tattoo types are called Polynesian because they originally appeared in Polynesia with the Maori tribe. Back then, the inking process was considered sacred, so the right to tattoo someone was only hold by priests. And, as you might guess, tattoos were also not made for beauty considerations. This is because each of them had a special sacred meaning. Moreover, according to Polynesian people, getting inked was considered a kind of divine channel.
Polynesian tattoos are usually inked on certain parts of the body, such as neck, chest, thighs, face and hands. The reason why these body areas are preferred is because tattoos used to play a large role in the tribal society of that time. By just looking at a person’s tattoos, people back then were able to find out more about his or her character, tribe, profession, origin and many other details.
Polynesians believed that in order to change someone’s fate or to correct his or her character it was necessary to ink certain images in the area of the negative effect. And, of course, the symbolism behind them had a direct impact on the outcome.
5. Amazing arm piece contains the symbol of the spiral
6. This tattoo looks like a warrior’s armor that he would wear in battle
7. Spirals and triangles are the main symbols in this back ink
8. Successful depiction of a fish drawn in the characteristic style of tribal tattoos
Symbols Often Met in Polynesian Tribal Tattoo Designs
Polynesian tattoos can not be confused with anything. Each of them consists of small patterns, geometric shapes, spirals, curves, lines and other details that ultimately compose the overall picture. So, when you pick a tribal tattoo with Polynesian roots, you should really know what each element means. As it follows, we will discuss a multitude of symbols meant to make you understand this tattoo type better.
The Shark Protects Fishermen
The image of a shark means sustainability, strong mind and persistence. This is because it is a powerful and dangerous predator. In order to be truly meaningful, such a tattoo design could be inked on fishermen with the purpose of protection. The general tendency is for a shark tattoo to be placed on one’s legs or chest.
9. Feminine tribal tattoos often contain flowers
10. A man’s sleeve made entirely in the Polynesian style
11. Leg tattoo based on curved lines and negative space patterns
12. Polynesian tribal tattoos with meanings don’t have an obvious meaning
Tiki Refers to Masks as Tattoos
Some of the most interesting designs drawn in the Polynesian style come under the form of masks. The word used to refer to all these masks is Tiki.
In ancient times, such masks were only worn by the hunters and warriors of the tribe. Why? Since these people were exposed to greater danger because of their activities, the Tiki was meant to protect them in difficult times. Moreover, it was supposed to also help them protect themselves from both human and animal attacks, as well as evil spirits.
The eyes if a Tiki have a special power. They are able to scare every unclean force. As a rule, Polynesians have had several TIKI masks tattoos in different parts of the body to frighten the evil on all fronts.
Turtle Tattoo Worn as an Amulet
The turtle is an often met Polynesian symbol. This is because it is a symbol of protection. The reason why it is considered to be protective is its strong shell that will never allow anything bad to happen. Negative energy, misfortune, bad thoughts and emotions can be sent away with the symbol of a turtle. Moreover, Polynesian tribes believed to also be a very powerful amulet.
13. A Polynesian tattoo serves as a body decoration in our days
14. There was no identical tattoo made back in the tribe days
15. Woman’s lower waist and side inked with a tribal pattern
16. Tiki, spirals, sea shells and turtle in one tattoo design
The Sun and The Moon Symbols
The sun is a symbol of energy, life, light. Getting a tattoo of the sun is just as if you were illuminating your life’s path. However, you must know that the sun is depicted in different ways, which also influences its value. For example, the sunrise is seen as a tide of energy, while the sunset means rebirth.
Unlike the sun, the moon is another equally important symbol. The moon (as well as the month) in general means everything related to the spirit. In addition, it is a reliable source of light and patronage for hunters.
17. Large tattoo design for men colored only half way
18. The meaning of this design lays in its details
19. A simple turtle tattoo falls into the Polynesian tattoos category
20. Man commits to his tribal tastes in matters of tattooing
Polynesian Lizard Tattoos for Warriors
As you have probably noticed so far, Polynesian people aspire to perceive all the best traits and qualities personified by various objects or creatures. The same thing happened with the drawing of a lizard.
Lizards come in different forms, but they all have fastness, resourcefulness, and courage. As a rule, such tattoos were worn by warriors so they could be helped in difficult moments. If the lizard was depicted together with a tortoise, it meant the tattooed person was a man of his word.
The Spiral Comes With Two Meanings
The spiral is considered a sign of hope and the beginning of a new (better) life. Another name for it is Coru.
Spirals may be closed or open, having different meanings. In the first case, it means infinity, perseverance, and self-development. While in the second case it refers to renewal and recovery.
21. Highly complex tattoo designs are usually customized
22. Amulets inked in a woman’s back with few similarities between the sides
23. A simulation of how such design would look on a muscular man’s arm
Smaller, Equally Important Polynesian Symbols
Above we discussed the basic variants of certain images and drawings that are made up of patterns and details. But besides them there are also smaller, equally important symbols of the Polynesian tattoo, each of which has its own meaning.
These symbols are interesting not only from the point of view of the history of tattooing, but also from the study of the culture and mentality of the tribes of Oceania as a whole. For example, the famous traveler and ethnographer Karl von Den Steinen, at the end of the 19th century (1897-1988), made many useful remarks about the life of the Polynesian tribes. He passed them on to other scientists and universities. So, let’s take a closer look at the importance of these figures.
24. The butterfly is not a very common symbol used for such designs
25. Close view of a tribal leg tattoo done on a woman
26. Chest piece is continued on the arm, such as a real armor
27. Tribal tattoos for women are embellished with curved lines and flowers
Polynesian Tribal Tattoos With Meanings – The Man – Enata
Enata is quite a simple symbol. As a rule, this one is used in the composition of complex drawings and means “close people”. The resemblance of two figures united together usually portrays a marriage, a wedding, a couple. However, Elates are very easy to confuse with other warrior images in the form of the same human figures. But there is a significant difference between them – the presence of a copy. And the meaning of these drawings is different as well. Some variations have been simplified so much that they are a type of geometric image that slightly resembles a person.
28. A circular arm tattoo that stands for something
29. Only black and white are used for inking such tattoo
30. The centerpiece of this design is a turtle
31. A skilled tattoo artist can deliver such design with the proper equipment
Objects Were Used to Portray Certain Qualities
Small picture simplifications can also become part of the whole picture. For example, in order to define a warrior, copies, peaks, sharp objects (teeth, fingers) and other combat weapons were used.
Another irreplaceable object in the life of the Polynesians, which is, at the same time, a weapon of battle, is a pick. Moreover, it has been used to build houses / canoes. As for its symbolism, it refers to skill, strength, respect.
In addition, it also offers the possibility to identify the leader of the tribe, as they only use it in battles. This means leadership, nobility, honor, respect, honor. Overall, all the qualities of an ideal leader.
32. Women were not getting inked in such ways during the past
33. When a man gets in touch with his feminine side
34. A story is being told on this man’s arm
Blue is not a commonly used color when it comes to tribal tattoos. In fact, they are all inked in black and very little white ink is used if necessary.
35. Tribal tattoo inked on a man’s side looks like a feather
Animals as Polynesian Tribal Tattoos With Meanings
Special sacred values are conferred to lizards (gecko, mocha), which often appear in the ancient myths of many peoples. Polynesian tribes believe that these animals are lucky and defensive, protecting them from unclean forces.
Another important animal in the tattoo of Polynesia is the tortoise (“honou”). Among its meanings are family, fertility, longevity, peace, ocean, freedom. The kita symbol also has a similar meaning.
Fish were important to the islanders because they were their main source of food. That is why the image of fish means abundance, prosperity, life. Moreover, islanders often use tattoos with sharks. Such a symbol means strength, courage. In addition, there is also the symbol of a shark, which also symbolizes socialism and friendship.
36. A turtle and a compass are the main elements in this design
37. You need in-depth knowledge in order to create your own, original design
As much as you might try, if you are not a Polynesian symbols dictionary, you cannot know what various shapes mean. The woman from the picture above must have in-depth knowledge about this style. Or, she might have found a tattoo artist specialized in this style.
38. In order to understand a tribal design you need to know its particularities
39. Nature’s elements included in a leg tattoo
Polynesian Tribal Tattoo Designs With Meanings – The Original Purpose
Speaking of the Polynesian tattoo, its impossible not to say a few things about its original purpose. In this regard, you must know that they were not just ornaments for the body. On the contrary, they had a special, sacred meaning. Moreover, the process of tattooing was a ritual, based on a sacred mystery, which was only performed by a priest. The latter used sharp sticks or rubbed the paint in cut skin. The whole process was incredibly painful, so not everyone could bear it. That’s why the Polynesian tattoo was a kind of test for the power of one’s mind.
Absolutely every design and ornament had its own meaning, which was supposed to also gave a great influence on the person in question and his or her destiny. With the advent of the Spanish conquerors, unfortunately, many sources were lost, so the meaning of some symbols of the Polynesian tattoo can not be revealed anymore.
Polynesian Tattoos’ Purpose in Our Days
These days, however, it would be fairly difficult to create a complex Polynesian design like before. That’s why people tend to use common symbols only. For example, the sun, the moon, the water and the turtle are among the preferred ones. They speak about the link of life, femininity, the variable of life, protection from enemies and misfortune.
A Polynesian tattoo is even today regarded as the “business card” of the owner because it is based on the whole life of a person or on the history of the whole world. Young people put on their bodies drawings that indicate a vital slogan, motto or aspiration, separating words, protection. By choosing a tattoo sketch, you can add more information to your individual story.
40. The outline of an octopus is filled with Polynesian symbols
41. Repeated patterns may change meaning depending on the elements near them
42. All things are connected in this tribal arm tattoo
43. Masculinity can be enhanced with a tattoo like this
44. Polynesian tattoos don’t have a fixed placement recommendation
45. Airy design leaves multiple symbols out
46. Circular design follows the shape of a spiral
Are Polynesian Tribal Tattoos With Meanings for You?
Now you know a little bit about every aspect about Polynesian tattoos. So, you should be able to know for sure whether or not they are a great fit. If you still have doubts, think about how much its meaning counts for you and how it would make your life better, more beautiful, safer and so on.
A spiritual person would like to seek a deeper meaning in Polynesian tattoos and would choose to think of them as amulets. Would you wear tribal tattoos as amulets? Or you’d like to ink certain patterns in your skin that are simply flattering? Well, you can combine both these aspects if you read the symbols section carefully.
Women seem to be less attracted by this tattoo style because it may look too large, unpolished or dark. If that’s your case, then you should dig deeper because Polynesian designs often include flowers or delicate designs. For example, you can start with a behind the ear Polynesian tattoo because that’s not easy to notice and it can carry meaning as well.