Growing up learning about the Samoan Culture and its values, samoan tattoo’s plays an important role in the Samoan Culture! Now, I didn’t know how the tattoo or tatau came to samoa. But luckily, a story for that is here hehe.How Tatau Came To Samoa
Taema and Tilafaiga were female simese twins who were joined from the spine. When the twins were grown, they decided to travel away from Ta’u (island of their birth). As they were swimming, the spar of a canoe struck them and severed the join between them. After several adventures on other islands, the twins reached Fiji where they met two tattoo (tatau) artists, Tufou and Filelei, who taught them the art of tattooing. They also taught them a song (or a spell) to sing when they were tattooing. When the twins returned to Samoa, Tilafaiga became a war goddess, while Taema became a tattooist and teacher of the art that she had learned in Fiji.
This is the story that I’ve heard like hundreds of times from my father telling us stories of how Tatau (tattoo) came about in the Samoan Culture! Now I was fond of the “Tatau”. I kept nagging at my mom about the tattoo that I would love to get one on my right ankle which is called the tauvae. Mom was like, nooo, wait until you turn 18 and I was like, but moooom thats 5 years from now lol. So being at 14, I was so anxious and waiting for it to really happen. Years later, my 18th birthday came, but you think you’re gonna get it on your brithday? Hek no, ma momma lied to me haha. Months went by wanting to get a tatau and finally an answer came hehe. Around May, a senior project had to be done by the end of the month and I was just stuck on stupid with it. The teacher said, your assignment is find something that you’ve never experienced before. Something that you love to do and so on! And that will be your project, but the down fall is .. If there is no project, you will not graduate. My heart was beating soo fast, and my mind went blank because of the graduation. Now you know graduation plays a big role in the samoan community LOL.
Got home, thinking of something to do with the my project and it just domed on me (light bulb) TATAU. Ran to my mom and started to explain to her about my project saying to her that if I don’t get this done, I will not graduate. So she’s like, so you want a samoan tattoo for your project? And you thought a project will get you a tattoo?? LOL, I was like plleeeeaassssseeee mom??? She’s like what the hek, haha but my father didn’t approve of it. Since, I’m his only girl he doesn’t want any harm right? But as much as I love dad, I want a freakin Tatau hehe. So, moms calling up everyone to see if they knew an artist and what not and finally one of my aunties knew someone in the family that was willing to do it. I shouldn’t say no names lol but he’s short stubby light skinned and bald haha. I was sooo excited but nervous just because I was thinking so much of the pain. But sorry folks, I had the pictures displayed for my project but I don’t have any of em!
Anyways, we did it at my aunties house downstairs in the basement hehe. So much for a fancy place huh? haha I guess anything works. He grabbed a belt thinking he’s gonna wrap my leg around so I won’t feel the pain haha like a tourniquet, but no, he placed it around my ankle and outlined the outside of the belt to make a band around my freakin ankle hahaha. In my mind I was like, omg, this is sooo ghetto but be thankful that you’re getting one haha. So I tried not to laugh at this new style haha closing my eyes just thinking of how ghetto this is and all of a sudden I hear this sound like a little motor is going off. And went deep into my skin. Im like AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH haha, Im sorry if I called it ghetto please forgive me lol. Omg, the pain feels like hundred needles just poking you at the same time. But its not one of those crying painful reaction its more like AHHs and OOOHs and SHHH and FUUUUhhhhh LOL. After, it came out alright! Now you know neosporin is the cure for this right? How come none of my aunties or anyone in the house didn’t have any neosporin or even the guy that was doing my tatau. You know what they had? A freakin VAPOR RUBBED VICKS, can you believe that? haha Almost all cures are Vapor Rubbed Vicks when it comes to Samoans haha. My mom told me to put that on so that it’ll heal and I’m looking at her saying are you sure? She’s like trust me haha I’m like how can I trust and you don’t have a tattoo haha. And so I did lol before she throws a good one lol. The next few days, I had little pimples or boils around the tattoo and ran to my mom telling her about it and she’s like oh it’ll go away haha. Are you sure? lol She’s like trust me, again with the trust me lol and she doesn’t have any tattoos none whatsoever! So I popped on boil and that scar stayed there forever lol. Till this day, I have that scar .. it looks like a birth mark right below my real birth-mark on my calves lol. But its all worth it though, it may look like amatuer art hahaha but I still love it!
— Manda Feleti