The best known Samoan tattoo is the kahakurangi, which means ‘three-rayed serpent’. It consists of three overlapping white rays, and is usually placed on the forearm. Most Samoan tattoos are on the hands, feet, buttocks and genitals, which all have names such as ‘womansong’ (‘woman’s love’ or ‘wife’s love’), ‘totokoan’ (‘father’s pride’) and ‘totakapai’ (‘three-way love’).
Samoa tattoos may be of any size.
Samoa tattoos are the traditional form of decoration on South Pacific islands, with the most famous example being the traditional kuakou (a tattoo of a fish on the back of a man’s head).
Samoan tattoos can include any of the following:
• Traditional tattoos
• Non-traditional tattoos
• Tattoos in the form of sculptures
• Tattoos in the form of animal heads or figures
• Tattoos of human hands
• Tattoos in the form of a ‘V’
• Tattoos on the back of the head
• Tattoos of the neck
• Tattoos of the body
• Tattoos of faces
• Tattoos of hands or feet
• Tattoos in the form of a flower
• Tattoos of fish or sea creatures
• Tattoos with figures of birds
• Tattoos or designs of any kind on the body
• Tattoos of flowers
• Tattoos in the form of masks
• Tattoos in the form of bird heads, fish, snakes or other animals in animals’ heads
• Any other type of tattoo
How many Samoan tattoos do Samoan men have?
There are many different tattoo cultures in Samoanland, each with different rules at their tattoo parlours. Most tattoo shops do not have the official tattoo regulations for non-Samoa tattoo parlours. These include rules such as how long you have to wait before you get your next tattoo. Some shops may also insist on the number of tattoos before the tattoo parlour will take you in.
Tattoos of the hands, feet, buttocks or genitals are considered traditional Samoan tattoos.
There are usually a maximum of 3 Samoan tattoos per person and tattooing is an important custom of South Pacific people. One tattoo, usually the longest, is called
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