Beautiful Pe'a — Traditional Samoan Tattoos
Pe'a are large-scale traditional tattoos worn by Samoan men.
In Samoan culture, the Pe'a — a large-scale traditional tattoo for men — is as much of a rite of passage into manhood as a beautiful piece of ornamental body art. The Pe'a has been a part of them Samoan way of life for a very long time now, handed down from tufuga ta tatau(tattoo artist)to apprentice in a tradition that stretches back over 2,000 years, and is still a very important part of their vibrant culture today.
Pe'a is one of the oldest traditions of tattooing in the world. Just to put it in perspective, even the English word "tattoo" comes from the Samoan term for the art form — tatau. In their culture, there are several types of tattoos, malu for women and Pe'a for men, and they all designate social standing in a number of ways. Pe'a is receive by males who are entering into manhood as a sign of their strength and courage. These bodily markings are highly revered among their people and woven into the fabric of Samoan society.
Pe'a covers the body from belly and lower back to the knees. It is usually hand-poked with traditional tools like serrated bone combs, shards of tortoise shell, and a wooden mallet. Each design is unique to the individual and inspired by patterns handed down through the centuries. As far as what they represent, the words from an age-old song about tells the creation myth behind Pe'a, entitled "Pese o le Tatau," describes them best. Roughly translated, the lines read: "Look at the young man lying down as the tufuga begins his work. Pity the crying of the young man, the stinging bite of the autapula teeth. Young man be brave. It is a game of men. Though it is painful, you will be proud of it afterward."
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To see more amazing Pe'a, visit these tufuga ta tatau's Instagrams and websites.