Samoan Tattoos

Ancient Polynesian Designs Rediscovered

Samoan tattoos were originally only done on on women of rank. Because of this distinction, tattooing became very popular among young Samoan men who considered tattoos to be a mark of their manhood.

The right to perform tattoos in Samoa can be traced back to a person's ancestors and if the person's forefathers were known to be a member of a tattoo guild, then the person was permitted by hereditary to enjoy the same privileges. An experienced tattooed artist trains apprentice tattooers who worked under their supervision until they are allowed to perform independently.

The wife of the tattooer is also greatly honoured in her position of wiping the blood of the tattooed person. She is known and addressed as the Meana'i (artist's helper). She is very well paid by the family of the youth and at the completion of a job which normally takes more than three months, she shares the payment and many gifts with her husband.

Example of Samoan tattoos


The right to perform tattoos in Samoa can be traced back to a person's ancestors and if the person's forefathers were known to be a member of a tattoo guild, then the person was permitted by hereditary to enjoy the same privileges. An experienced tattooed artist trains apprentice tattooers who worked under their supervision until they are allowed to perform independently.

Example of Samoan tattoos


The wife of the tattooer is also greatly honoured in her position of wiping the blood of the tattooed person. She is known and addressed as the Meana'i (artist's helper). She is very well paid by the family of the youth and at the completion of a job which normally takes more than three months, she shares the payment and many gifts with her husband.