Reviewed & updated: November 30, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Are you searching for one of the most ancient art, that is, the Tongan tattoo? Keep reading the article to get some of the most intriguing ideas.
Tongan tattoo creates beautiful symmetric illusions all over the body.
The Tongan name for tattooing is Tatatau. The traditional Tatatau was a custom for the Pacific island cultures for a long time.
With Tonga becoming westernized over time, these tattoo designs faded, but the art form came back in early 2002. The designs are influenced by the Polynesian culture, and the distinct patterns have their meaning. To this day, these tribal tattoos are quite famous, and every tattoo style looks different. Tatataus on men is usually located from the waist to the knees and hence covers much of the body area. Women’s traditional Tongan tattoo designs consist of symmetrical lines across the thigh region.
Simple Tongan Tattoo
This is a simple design of a traditional Tongan tattoo inked in black color from the upper knee to the ankle. The Tongan chiefs loved to have such designs on their skin since it was a part of their traditional practices, but nowadays, these cultural traditions of Tonga have become quite common in other parts of the world. These tattoos are gorgeous and bold and are easily noticeable on the skin because of their dark-colored patterns.
The Tongan tattoos are being inked from the traditional times of Tonga that is from the early 1800s when the westerners arrived in the pacific ocean. Also, it requires courage for a person to get a Tongan tattoo because of their heavy designs.
Turtle Shell Tongan Tattoo
It’s a very beautiful medium-sized tattoo with a lot of discreet designs. It shows the authenticity of the tribal Tatau. The design is less complicated than the other Tongan tattoos, but the faded black shades look eye-catching.
The turtle is a very important creature throughout the Polynesian cultures. It symbolizes peace, health, patience, rest, longevity, and love for the ocean. Strength and defense are the two words that the shell signifies. It has a spiritual meaning which makes them very prominent in traditional Polynesian tattooing.
Number Tongan Tribal Tattoo
This Tongan tattoo is designed based on simple numeric values. It is located just above the knee. These traditional Tongan tattoos are quite common and often seen among young men. The color of this tattoo is done with simple black ink but contains a lot of detail. As a whole, they look quite vibrant and gorgeous.
People choose number tattoos for various personal reasons, although they do not hold any particular meaning in general but only if they are special to the individual who chose them. Some prefer to have a tattoo based on their lucky numbers, some on roman numerals, some on their date of birth, and so on.
Lotus Tongan tattoo
Here in the image, we can see a black Tongan-influenced beautiful lotus flower tattoo. It has an intricate pattern, and just like every other Tongan tattoo, this one also requires a professional hand. Each petal of the flower is designed carefully and with perfection. The details of the lotus flower are exquisitely followed by some extra designs at the bottom of the tattoo, making it look more astonishing.
A lotus tattoo is a symbol of great awareness, receptiveness, and edification. These flowers have symbolic meanings for many traditional religions like Hinduism, Christianity, and Buddhism. These tattoos also symbolize faith and peace that should be spread in the entire world among the human race.
This is a full-length arm Samoan tattoo. This tattoo is done with pure blank ink. The artist here is very skillful and has good knowledge about traditional tattooing in Samoa. This tattoo must have required a lot of time and concentration since it covers a huge part of the hand
The Samoan tattoo falls under the category of old traditional tattoos from the Polynesian islands. These tattoos of Samoa represent power, confidence, respect, and glory and also mark honor that is to be worn by Samoans. Still, nowadays, people from all over the world including Europe, Asia, and the United States, have started liking these traditional tattoos. Tattoos done by the Samoans are different from the tattoos of the Tongan society.
Tongan Arm Tattoo
It’s a classic Tongan tattoo that goes from the shoulder to the forearm. People, mostly men, are attracted to these types of traditional tattooing of Tonga as these tattoos symbolize strength and confidence. This tattoo has multiple patterns on it Like the other tattoos; it also shows power with a creative touch by the artist to make it look more attractive and add a modern element to it.
Arm tattoos are a manifestation of extreme courage since they are almost impossible to hide. It is a common area where people prefer to have a tattoo. Tongan tattoos symbolize strength and power, whereas arm tattoos are also known for symbolizing the same. Hence people, mostly men, prefer to have these types of tattoos in this area to showcase their masculinity.
Floral Ankle Tongan tattoo
Not everybody likes colors on their Tongan tattoos, but some prefer to have them. This can be a perfect choice for those who would like to have a slight touch of color on their tattoo. This tattoo is located at the ankle and has a shape similar to a knife. Also, it has a beautiful floral design and a flower inked at the middle of the foot. The flower is colored with faded black ink, and the rest of the tattoo is inked with light blueish ink. As a whole, it provides a very generous look, and if you are looking for something strong like a Tongan tattoo but also has feminine touch, this Tongan tattoo is a perfect example.
Many people choose this location for getting tattooed because it is very subtle, can be hidden easily and is more common in women. It also provides an aesthetic look for the beholder. Foot or ankle tattoos are quite appealing for certain people.
Tongan Shark Tattoo
If uniqueness was shown with the help of a tattoo, this Tongan shark tattoo is the perfect example. It is a tattoo of a Hammerhead shark which is said to be quite aggressive and powerful. Hence having a tattoo of such an animal will reflect muscularity. Its long tail, upper fin, side fins, and the rest of the body area are all inked with Tongan designs. This tattoo is very attractive, and people who love animals, mostly aquatic animals would love to have this inked on them.
In the Polynesian cultures, the hammerhead shark is seen as a guardian to them. They have this belief that the hammerhead shark will protect people, mostly the swimmers and the sailors, from the sharks that eat people. The sailors of Tongan regions usually get this hammerhead shark tattoo as a sign of a talisman to safeguard themselves from dangers when they are at sea.
Bird And Stingray Tongan Tattoo
This tattoo is a delight for people who loves both animals and traditional Tongan designs. The tattoo is inked at the back of the beholder and has covered a huge area. A huge stingray has been inked, and every detail is done marvelously. The stingray is colored with Tongan designs, and inside it is a bird with its wings fully expanded, showing great signs of freedom and purity.
A stingray tattoo symbolizes balance, control, self-confidence, and the ability to protect your own interests. A person with this tattoo will reflect his or her character. They will not get themselves unnecessarily into conflict situations but will also not make themselves feel offended. It shows how the beholder knows to solve issues calmly and judiciously. A bird tattoo, on the other hand, reflects success and aspiration. When both these animals are inked together with Tongan designs, it’s a magnificent piece of art that all the animals and the peace-loving people will easily get attracted into.
Tongan Lion Tattoo
This tattoo is a delicious piece of artwork for all the big cat family lovers. This Tongan tattoo of a lion is shown roaring and inked with black color. It is the epitome of lion symbolism. With the marvelous Tongan design, this tattoo has become more outrageous and filled with herculean characteristics. Since it’s a huge tattoo design, it will require a larger body area not only to fit it but also to showcase each and every detail of the tattoo clearly.
A lion tattoo reflects that the beholder is tough, robust, reliable, and has complete control over their lives. To some people, a lion tattoo is also a symbol of knowledge, strength, and integrity. The Tongan people also believe that a lion tattoo will showcase the courage to face another new day after a hefty and tough challenge or a task.
Nowadays, people show great interest in the traditional tattooing of Tonga. The traditional tools that are been used back in those days to make these tattoos were all made up of bones and turtle shells. Since the designs are usually huge, marvelous, and complete, they are generally painful for the beholder. Due to its ravishing designs, it will always require a skillful tattoo artist to sketch, but once done, these types of tattoos are considered one of the most elegant, stylish, graceful, and decorous in the world. Also, these tattoos are a huge symbol of strength, courage, and toughness. Both men and women prefer to have these tattoos. So here are some other kinds of Tongan tattoos that you should definitely check out.
- Tongan warrior tattoo.
- Tongan arrow tattoo.
- Tongan lizard tattoo.
- Tongan snake tattoo.
- Tongan sword tattoo.
Feature Image from Pinterest
What is the meaning of a Tongan tattoo?
Tongan tattoos are meaningful symbols of identity, reverence and pride in Tongan culture. In traditional practice, the process of tattooing is a ritual that marks an individual’s transition into adulthood, achievement or courage. It is believed that the intricate designs represent a person’s history, character and personality. Some styles consist of lines and geometric patterns, while others feature intricate images of gods and spiritual figures. It is an important way for the Tongan people to remember their history and show respect for their cultural heritage.
How is a Tongan tattoo created?
Traditional Tongan tattoos are created using a hand-tapping method. This involves making small cuts in the skin with a tool made of sharpened boar’s tusk or bird bone, and then inserting black ink into the cuts. The process can be quite painful and time consuming, but the results are stunning and highly detailed pieces of body art. The hand-tapping process is still used today, as it produces a unique and personalized look that cannot be replicated by machine.
Are Tongan tattoos painful?
Yes, Tongan tattoos can be painful. The process involves making small cuts in the skin with a hand-tapping tool and inserting black ink into the cuts. This is a slow and precise technique that requires patience and endurance from the person getting tattooed. As such, it is not uncommon for people to feel some degree of pain during the process. However, many people find the feeling of pain to be exhilarating and meaningful in itself, as it symbolizes courage and strength.
How much does a Tongan tattoo cost?
The cost of a Tongan tattoo depends on the size, complexity and design. Generally speaking, a traditional Tongan tattoo can range from $100 to over $1000, depending on the artist and their skill level. Smaller tattoos can tend to be less expensive than larger ones, so it is important to choose a design that fits within your budget. Additionally, some artists may offer discounts for bulk orders or for special occasions, so it is worth asking about these offers when making an appointment.