Samoa: Male Tattoos

“Malofie” is the term given to a Samoan male who possesses a traditional tattoo. In the past, men were able to receive tattoos between the ages of 14-18. The age restriction was put in place to prevent the designs from stretching as a result of an individual continuing to grow. Due to the amount of pain involved, receiving traditional markings is deemed as a rite of passage to manhood. Extensive designs almost entirely cover the mid to lower back region and continue down to the knees. Samoan men can receive a tattoo in one of two ways: by proving himself honorable by demonstrating good work ethic or, more commonly, by requesting the approval of an elder. Approval is usually granted on the basis that he has not done anything to dishonor his family. The last step is to find a relative to receive a tattoo at the same time.