The social significance of tattoos and the origin of their patterns
have been explained very detailed. But the tattoos should also transport
special meanings. Many of these meanings were implied in the previous
texts. Lots of them you can find in the interactive schema but I want to
discuss some more patterns more explicit.
Independent of the protective value, which is connected with some
tattoos (see: reasons_magical protection) a lot of motives have got
These sharkteeth are on the one hand a symbol for the shark huntig of
the Marquesians. On the other hand it emblematises sacrifice and
dadication for one’s family.
These Motives, which somehow remind of the human appearance, have one
meaning. Analogy to humans does always symbolise analogy to ancestors
and consequently to divinity. That’s why the meaning of this pattern is
always divinity or means to be equipped with exceptional skills.
The upward bow, which based on the tikiarm, is a symbol for divinity,
too. Often this motive was a previlege of chiefs and princesses. Special
skills that were accredited to the chiefs were: the ability to feed
ohters and to let them procreate.
This one bases on a cup and symbolises reciprocity and exchange.
Probably the reason is, that meals were always and cooked and eaten
together. In a broader sense the ipu can also be seen as a symbol for
service and trade.
This ornament is constructed in a row, too. The translation is ‘my
girl’. Usually it is a chessline in two rows that could be found around
neck, arms or legs. It’s a symbol for being in love, whereas the pairs
of white and black rectangles show the interaction of love.
This row means verbal ‚gums’, whereupon the part paa can also be
translated with barrier. This row often was tattoed at the end of the
extremities around the legs or fingers. So the pattern is a barrier that
protects hands and feet from all types of dangerous contacts.
This pattern is a modification of the niho-peata and it got ist name
from the bonito (atu = scomber pelamys). The tuna was supposed to be a
predator on the Marquesian islands and was adored in a strong way.
That’s why this tattoo symbolises all good attributes that are
attributed to the bonito – effiency and agility. Thus the tattoo is a
sign for the skillfullness of the persons, who got it – if they were
warriors it shows skills at hunting enemies, if they were fishermen it
shows skills at hunting the prey.