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Traditional Marquesan Tattoos by Marco Wallace

Traditional Marquesan Tattoos by Marco Wallace

Tattoo Artists1 min Read

Marco Wallace honors the traditional designs of the Marquesas Islands by creating modern renditions of indigenous body art.

Macro Wallace has tapped into a tradition of body art that has been tapped into people's skin for centuries — Marquesan tattoos. By remaining faithful to the fundamentals of this age-old indigenous art form and adding his own modern design elements, he creates large-scale ornamental compositions that channel the spirit of the sacred cultural practice while also conveying a 21st century sensibility. 

Traditional Marquesan tattoos —  Wallace's primary source of inspiration — are one of the oldest forms of body art in the world. Marquesans have been engaging in this practice for thousands of years. The act of tattooing or getting tattooed carries incredible importance in their way of life, being seen more of a rite of passage than merely adorning one's skin. Elaborate rituals surround the making of these tattoos in indigenous communities, including the construction of a ceremonial hut specifically for operation, preparation of the ink from natural ingredients, and other communal activities. In many way, body art has always been at the heart and in the lifeblood of their culture.

Through his careful execution and the reverence toward traditional Marquesan designs that his work displays, Wallace does justice to the rich heritage behind this form of body art. All of his pieces are rooted firmly in the history the preceded them, featuring the very same patterns — intricate series of bold lines and arching circular figures — that have appeared on native inhabitants of the Marquesas Islands since long before Europeans made contact and took up the act of tattooing themselves. 

Do you also like traditional Marquesan tattoos? If so, you can see more of Wallace's work on Instagram or his website. Should you want a large-scale piece by him, too, he works out of a private studio in Milan, Italy and can be reached at for appointments.

Robert Davies
Written byRobert Davies

Tattoodo Staff Writer and tattoo enthusiast. Lover of all things traditional and blackwork!

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