** Warning, this post does contain a naked bottom — although you can barely see it because of the tattoo. Just thought I’d warn you right at the outset, in case it’s early where you are and you haven’t had your morning coffee yet, and you’re not quite ready yet for the sight of a bottom, tattooed or not **
I came across this in one of my random googling sessions one night when I couldn’t sleep and I thought it was fascinating. The Pe’a is a traditional Samoan tattoo for men, that covers the body from the waist to the knees. The detail is such that a quick glance and you’d think it was just a piece of skintight clothing.
The pattern with its amalgamation of small details and lines actually reminds me a little of the tangles that Sammy (she over at Bemuzin) does – although obviously not using the same canvas!
As you can imagine it’s an incredibly painful experience and it can take from a few weeks to several years to complete. The master tattooist does the tattoo using handmade tools made of bone, tusk, turtle shell and wood. I can’t imagine what the rate of infection must be to do such a huge tattoo with such rustic tools!
Tattoed men are revered for their courage (which is fair enough considering what they’d have to put themselves through) while men without a Pe’a tattoo are called telenoa which literally means ‘naked’. To start the tattoo process and not complete it due to pain or the inability to pay the master tattooist (it’s a very expensive process) is a mark of great shame.
Women have an equivalent tattoo but it’s a lot more delicate, more like a filigree along the thighs. The women’s tattoo is called Malu.
Both the Pe’a tattoo and the Malu tattoo are a point of pride and are viewed as hallmarks of manhood and womanhood respectively.
I really have to take my hat off to these men and women who have the patience and pain threshold to endure these tattoos — they’re absolutely stunning and a beautiful part of the Samoan heritage. But I have to admit, I don’t think I’d ever be able to put myself through that. I think I’d have to be a telenoa.
How about you, have you got any tattoos? Seen any particularly amazing or crazy ones? Do you think you’d be able to get such a huge tattoo or would be a telenoa like me?