This site was created to address the lack of awareness
of the Tongan Tatatau tradition. After researching for years, I've decided to compile the little information found on Tongan
Tatatau. Early reference on Tongan Tattooing is scarce and the knowledge of it is quickly passing with each generation. I
wanted to preserve this once important part of the Tongan culture and provide an accessible site for those interested in learning
Because of the lack of sufficient information, some views may conflict with those presented here. I have come
across many of these contradictions myself when speaking with Tongans and non-Tongans. I've tried my best to separate the
information and put forth a more complete understanding of the Tongan Tatatau. I welcome any criticisms, comments, and/or
additional information that can be provided in order to strengthen the awareness.
I am hoping that this site will
be a wealth of information for Tongans and non-Tongans who are interested in learning more about the Tatatau. In doing
this, I am also hoping that individuals may become inspired to do further research into this ancient tradition, thereby keeping
Thank you for the support many of you have given me and this site over the years.
I truly value everything that is Tongan, current practices and forgotten traditions. Lately, I've wanted to address
some questions that have come up over the years by individuals seeking more knowledge about Tonga's tattoo tradition.
I will begin a blog that will make it easier for me to post updates and answer questions, as well as allowing you to
comment and offer up any information you might have.
Go to Tatatau Blog...
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The drawing above was done by d'Urville in the
early 1800's. It is the only known sketch of the traditional Tongan Tatatau. As described by others who were fortunate enough
to observe the Tatatau, it was similar in body placement, design and significance to other areas of Polynesia such as Samoa,
Tuvalu, Tokelau, etc.
Like most early drawings, however, there have been criticisms. I have heard that some of the
areas that appear to be solid black were actually fine and closely spaced patterns that (from a distance) appeared to be solid
The above image was found by a friend, Cheyenne Morrison
and referred to me to include on the website. The artist is Felipe Bauza, titled "Men of the islands of Vava'u" [Hombres de las Islas de Babao]
The drawing was made on the Spanish Scientific Expedition to Australia and
the Pacific in the ships Descubierta and Atrevida under the command of
Alessandro Malaspina, 1789-1794