Based on the article on BuzzFeed, I do not think non-Polynesians should get Polynesian tattoos. The author provides compelling reasons why these tattoos hold deep cultural and ancestral significance for Polynesians. She explains how each symbol has meaning passed down through generations, representing family ties, community service, and connection to one’s heritage.

The traditional tattoos like the pe’a and malu in particular denote great honor and require permission from elders to receive. As the author notes, she herself is unsure if she has earned the right to get the malu. This shows these tattoos indicate more than just body art – they symbolize an individual’s dedication to upholding cultural values and traditions.

For non-Polynesians unaware of this context, getting Polynesian tattoos could come across as cultural appropriation. The author gives the example of a celebrity displaying Samoan tattoos just to connect with a contestant, without regard for their meaning.

Overall, the article makes a persuasive case that Polynesian tattoos should remain reserved for those who understand and respect their significance. Their heritage provides meaning that is lost when randomly adopted by others. I agree outsiders getting these tattoos dilutes their purpose and dishonors the culture. The symbols represent far more than aesthetic appeal. Therefore based on the author’s viewpoint, non-Polynesians should refrain from appropriating them.

Polynesian tattoos hold deep ancestral and cultural meaning. Their symbols tell the story of one’s heritage and community. For outsiders unaware of this context, wearing these markings can disrespect and appropriate a culture not their own.

As a Samoan woman, I feel strongly about preserving the significance of our tattoos. Let me provide some background on what they represent.

The Pe’a and Malu: Sacred Honor

Non-Polynesians To Stop Getting Polynesian Tattoos
Image credit @polynesian_style_tatau/Instagram

For Samoan men, receiving a traditional pe’a tattoo is a rite of passage denoting their dedication to the community. This intricate tattoo done with hand tools covers the body from waist to knee. The painful process can take up to 10 days, surrounded by supportive loved ones.

Each pe’a symbol and placement carries meaning, like the connection to one’s mother. Enduring this ritual brings honor and shows commitment to cultural values.

For women, the malu holds similar prestige. However, one cannot simply get a malu when desired. Women must seek approval from village elders, having proven themselves worthy through service.

Even as a proud Samoan, I am unsure whether I have earned the right to wear the malu. The gravity of this decision gives me pause. To display our sacred markings without proper understanding would disrespect my very heritage.

The Significance of Modern Polynesian Tattoos

Significance of Modern Polynesian Tattoos
@ polynesian_style_tatau/Instagram

While less elaborate, modern Polynesian tattoos still hold ancestral meaning. Spearheads represent the fisherman providing for family. Turtles signify wisdom and longevity. Sharks embody strength and protection.

Even when not undergoing formal rites, these symbols imprint one’s ancestry on the skin. The tattoos connect us to generations past and the islands’ history. They are more than body art – they are our stories.

Cultural Appropriation: The Painful Past

Polynesian Tattoo: History, Meanings and Traditional

Beyond meaning, Polynesians see our tattoos as part of our identity. Colonialism nearly erased these practices, banning them as ‘savage’. Thanks to strong island tradition, some knowledge survived.

Now, when these symbols are arbitrarily adopted for cool points, Polynesians feel distress. We prevented our tattoos from dying out, only to have them appropriated? It dishonors ancestors who risked punishment to keep the culture alive.

Our Request

Please, do not carelessly adopt tribal tattoos without regard for their origins. They are more than motifs – they represent family, heritage, and our collective past. Wearing this sacred art must be earned through one’s deeds and character over time.

I hope sharing the deeper meaning behind Polynesian tattoos inspires respect. Let us keep their significance alive and untarnished for generations to come. Our islands’ history depends on it.

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