Samoan tattoos often feature many shells. A majority of these shells are turtle shells which represent longevity, wellness and peace. Other times seashells are featured which show protection and intimacy. There is an abundance of ancient and modern day designs that show both the Samoan heritage and culture.
Many Samoan warriors would receive tattoos. They were a symbol of strength and power. If a young Samoan man was offered the chance to receive a tattoo it was and still is considered a very high honor. The traditional Samoan tattoos are done with tattoo combs. A tattoo comb is placed on the end of a stick, dipped into the ink, then placed and against the skin and hit with a mallet to drive the needles into the skin and let the ink soak in.
Instead of the constant buzzing sound that you would normally here from modern tattoo guns with the tattoo comb all you hear is a clacking noise, which is the the two pieces of wood repeatedly hitting each other.
Each symbol has its own meaning and sometimes certain symbols can have up to four or five meanings. This means if you happen to have the same tattoo as someone else there is a good chance that it holds a completely different meaning to you then it does to them. There are only a couple ways that if you’re looking to get an authentic Samoan tattoo that you can go about it.
The first would be to join their community. You must work to become accepted by them. They don’t let any Joe Blow in and let them stay. Little things will help prove your worth among the community like taking out the neighbors trash, helping them with house chores or even mowing their lawn. You need to prove that you’re not only trustworthy but that you’re committed to them and their way of life.
The diagonal body art design isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes hours stacked on top of hours to complete. It usually runs from one shoulder, down the front part of one’s body and connects diagonally with the hip area. It’s a beautiful piece when all finished.
Arm pieces are another popular design. This form is probably the most common and can be seen everywhere. Of course you don’t have to be a Samoan to get a Samoan tattoo. It just helps if you want an authentic one. The designs are very closely related with certain tribal designs. This is one reason they’ve become so popular in the last ten years or so among tattoo artists.
Placement isn’t a very big deal because wherever you end up getting it, it’s going to take up a lot of room. There are no small pieces when it comes to these designs. You’re going to spend a lot of money and be doing a lot of chair time. The best advice you can receive is, get comfy.