Tattoos are used to decorate different parts of the body. Initially tattoos were only on animals for identification or branding. However, it became popular among humans as well. The word tattoo is derived from the word tatau, which is a Samoan word and means a 'mark' or 'to strike twice'. Tattoo as a form of art has been very popular in the Polynesian islands and eventually went onto become popular all over the world. There are different reasons, why tattoos are used in the Polynesian islands of which Hawaii is one of the islands. It can be used to depict rites of passage or to depict religious devotion, decoration for bravery in a war, or as a talisman to protect the person, etc.
The beauty of the Hawaiian tattoos is the meanings attached to the different designs. There are a number of tattoo motifs, which are widely used among the Hawaiian tattoo designs. The ancient Hawaiian tattoos were made using geometric patterns using black lines. Normally the designs were symmetric. However, over a period of time, the different designs developed and animals, flowers, birds, etc., were used to make tattoos. According to some scholars these designs developed after the islands came in contact with the outside world, yet these designs have cultural and traditional meanings attached to them.
Traditional Hawaiian Tattoo Meanings
The art of tattooing was known as kakau in the Hawaiian islands. The tattoo designs can be both small or huge. You will also be able to see intricate tattoo designs. Previously turtle shell, bamboo, bird bone or fish bones were used to make the tattoo. Once the cuts were made, tattoo ink was put into the cuts. Some of the commonly used Polynesian tattoo designs are the sea turtles, arrows, tropical flowers, dolphins, lizards, sharks, shells, etc., yet the most popular remains the hibiscus flower tattoo.
Gecko: One of the most popular Hawaiian tattoos is the gecko. As creatures geckos commanded not only awe, but they were also feared. It was believed that the geckos possess supernatural powers. There is a belief, that if a green gecko laughs, then it brings bad fortune and illness.
Sea Turtle: The sea turtles are also very popular among the Hawaiian tattoo designs. They are known to have a long life, at the same time, they are also seen as a sign of fertility.
Sharks: Sharks are looked upon as powerful animals. They were also considered very sacred. Many people chose to get shark tattoos, so that they can protect themselves from their enemies. People who did not want an elaborate tattoo design, chose to get only a shark tooth tattooed, as it is also said to protect people.
Hibiscus: The hibiscus flowers have exotic beauty and are normally associated with summer and fun and frolic. They have a tropical look to them and are also feminine and delicate. They are at the same time very fragile and have a short life. These flowers are found in a number of colors and any one of them can be used to make a hibiscus tattoo. The flower can also be drawn along with the contrasting green leaves, which enhances the beauty of the tattoo.
Tiki: The origin of the Tiki tattoo is in Tiki art, where carvings and statues of human figure are very popular. There is a belief in the Polynesian islands, that the Tiki was the first human being as well as it is seen as the mythical ancestor of human beings. There is one very prominent feature of the Tiki, which is the closed eyes. It is said that the Tiki has very powerful sense of smell, due to which it can smell danger, before it can actually see it.
Shells: Among the Polynesian tattoos, it is the shell tattoo design, which has a meaning attached to wealth. In the ancient times, the shells were used as currency, hence the ancient Hawaiian tattoo meanings of a shell is prosperity.
After reading on the tattoo meanings, you may decide to get the most appropriate Hawaiian tattoo design for yourself. There are a lot of people, who choose to get Hawaiian tattoo on their visit to the island, as they are enchanted with the beauty of the place. However, be sure of the design that you would really want to get, as not only is the process of getting a tattoo very painful, removing it is painful as well as very difficult.