Tattooing in Tonga

Pre-contact Tongan males were often heavily tattooed. In Captain Cook’s time only the Tu’i Tonga (king) was not because he was too high ranked for anybody to touch him. Later it became the habit that a young Tu’i Tonga went to Samoa to be tattooed there.
The practice of Tatatau disappeared under heavy missionary disapproval, but was never completely suppressed. It is still very common for men (less so, but still some for women), to be decorated with some small tattoos. Nevertheless it is more popular for youngsters nowadays, so there is a revival. Especially shoulders, wrists, ankles, legs, arms. Often a crest of the high school attended. Or the initials of one’s name.

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