Rapa Nui: Tattoos

Easter Island, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is home to the Rapa Nui. The traditional tattoos of the Rapa Nui culture granted an individual warrior status. In other instances, these designs illustrated one’s spiritual connotation and association with divine strength. Tattooing was exclusive and represented an individual’s social or hierarchical class. The art form utilized a blending of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic imagery, with some designs being more common than others. Each generation receives knowledge and techniques from the previous one, preserving their culture and history. Depending on the design, all areas of the body could receive markings, with the exception of one’s feet, hands and chest. Many Polynesian tattoo implements, such as the prepared pigment that consists of charred ti leaves (Cordyline terminalis), are similar to those of other Polynesian tribes.