Polynesian tattoo designs are an umbrella term for all tattoos that use design patterns, symbols, and meanings from the Polynesian Triangle. This area of the Pacific Ocean is wide and vast. The northern point of the triangle is Hawaii, the eastern end, Auckland area, and the western point, Easter Island. Thousands of islands can be included in this triangle, although there are primary cultures of “the triangle.” They are Maori, Hawaiian, French Polynesian, Tongan, Cook Islanders, Samoan, Easter Island, Melanesia, and Micronesia. This list is by no means exhausted. The point is when asking for Polynesian tattoo designs, if you’re a traditionalist, be careful because you’re likely to get just about anything without some research.
The Polynesian people were extremely into exploration. They traveled by sea from island to island for hundreds of years to island inhabiting them and moving on, eventually creating the triangle and settling down. Each island or culture began to develop its traditions, styles, belief systems, stories, legends, and culture during this time. So when we speak of “Polynesian,” anything we are talking about is in general.
- 1 Types of Polynesian Tattoos
- 1.1 Hawaiian Polynesian Tattoos
- 1.2 Tribal Polynesian Tattoos
- 1.3 Traditional Polynesian Tattoos
- 1.4 Polynesian Flower Tattoos
- 1.5 Polynesian Tattoo for Women
- 1.6 Full Sleeve Polynesian Tattoos
- 1.7 Polynesian Tiki Tattoos
- 1.8 Polynesian Armband Tattoos
- 1.9 Polynesian Gecko Tattoos
- 1.10 Polynesian Stingray Tattoos
- 2 Coloring & Placement of Polynesian Tattoos
- 3 More Polynesian Tattoo Designs
Types of Polynesian Tattoos
Below is a list of the most commonly requested Polynesian tattoos. I will give you a brief description based on the historical background you’ve just read modified with current considerations.
Hawaiian Polynesian Tattoos
Hawaiian Polynesian tattoo designs would be tattoos specific to all things Hawaiian. Of course, this would refer specifically to the Hawaiian culture before it was assimilated with other cultures. So look to tikis, native flowers, Gods, housing, transportation, native creatures, and the Hawaiian language for your Hawaiian Polynesian tattoos.
Tribal Polynesian Tattoos
Tribal Polynesian tattoos are highly requested. The problem is that Polynesia, as explained above, covers a vast area, and each island developed its own tribal art. Hawaiian tribal art is very different from Maori, for instance. So choose a style, or blend them all. Talk to your tattoo artist to help with this design.
Traditional Polynesian Tattoos
Traditional Polynesian Tattoos are almost nonexistent. Like many native cultures, much of the unwritten history was lost. The Maori is probably the truest to traditional. With this culture, we have some drawings made by the Spaniards that have survived and descriptions of tattoos’ placement.
Polynesian Flower Tattoos
The flowers for Polynesian tattoos can be any native flower to their islands. For instance, Hawaiian’s would typically use the beautiful Hibiscus flower.
Polynesian Tattoo for Women
Polynesian tattoos for women can be any of the native flowers from the triangle or the island of your ancestry. In addition, consider the goddesses of the Polynesian culture. If considering the Maori Polynesian tattoos for women, keep it to the chin or below the knees. Traditionally, it was only the chin, but later drawings depicted some women of royalty with tattoos on the lower part of their legs and a lower leg sleeve.
Full Sleeve Polynesian Tattoos
Full sleeve Polynesian tattoos are more of a modern version of the ancient culture and are very popular today. In Polynesian tattoo artwork, tattoo artists encourage you to incorporate symbols of importance in your sleeves. It presents a problem because we do not know all of the symbols. We know that great importance was placed upon all the creatures of the sea and the sea itself. The sleeve is something similar to a totem pole if you will. Each piece that you add represents a totem, aspect, guardian, or your desire in life.
Polynesian Tiki Tattoos
Polynesian Tiki gods are most recognized as originating from the Hawaiian Islands, although we cannot be sure of this. They are still Polynesian as Hawaii belongs to the Polynesian Triangle. A study of the Tiki Gods and their meaning will help with this tattoo design.
Polynesian Armband Tattoos
Polynesian armband tattoos are a smaller version of the sleeve described above and are worn by both men and women today. You can choose the tribal art from whichever island you admire or descend and then add the totems that apply to your life.
Polynesian Gecko Tattoos
Polynesian gecko tattoos are stunning in the tribal art of the islands. Interestingly enough, if you study the images of gecko Polynesian tribal gecko art, you will notice that the gecko is sometimes fully tattooed in the Maori circular tribal style with some Hawaiian thrown in. This guy looks great on his own or in an armband.
Polynesian Stingray Tattoos
Polynesian stingray tattoos are fabulous pieces of body art. It appears that most stingray images if studied closely, are designed in the Hawaiian tribal art style. I am not saying that it is inappropriate to design a stingray in another island style. It will require a large amount of skin to do it justice for the magnificent creature it is.
Coloring & Placement of Polynesian Tattoos
Coloring of most Polynesian tattoos is done in dark blue, dark green or black if using tribal art. Polynesian tattoos that incorporate the natural symbols of the island or imitate art that was left for us by the ancients will need color. You will be using earth tones for these tattoos, such as greens, browns, reds, tans, blacks, and blues, of course.
The placement of Polynesian tattoos has been discussed some during the course of this article because of the importance the ancestors gave to the placement of tattoos. However, people today have modernized some of these restrictions. For instance, women are being tattooed with tribal down their entire legs with strands or backs with animal symbols. Women are also wearing armbands as well as men. The most modern phenomenon and the most popular by far is creating the arm sleeve that covers a man’s entire arm and goes up onto his shoulder.
I didn’t see any with the Unk or Sea Turtle? Those are important to Hawaii’s culture!!!