French Polynesia: Tattoonesia

Many different tribes make up Polynesia: Marquesans, Samoans, Niueans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, Hawaiians, Tahitians and Maori. Each tribe, although very similar, distinguished themselves with their use of “tatau.” Tatau, or the English derivation, “tattoo,” was the Polynesian’s way of communicating through images. They had no written language, so tattoos became the best way for them to express themselves aside from speech.

In Tahiti, there is a festival called “Tattoonesia,” where tattoo fans and artists from around the world gather to showcase and appreciate a variety of tattoos. First organized in 2005, Tattoonesia is supported by the Presidency, the Culture Ministry, and Tahiti Tourism and is open to everyone. The festival sports contest, live music, cultural dance shows, conferences, documentaries, exhibits, and a variety of other performances all related to the French Polynesia. Held during the late months of Fall, Tattoonesia helps spread the artistic and cultural values that tattoos exude.