What is a Samoan tattoo?


Quick Answer

The traditional Samoan tattoo is called pe'a and consists of a symmetrical design of straight lines and blocks. They are done with only black ink and extend from the midtorso to the knees.

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Full Answer

Pe'a are only done by master tattooists, called tufuga, who spend years apprenticing before tattooing on their own. The tufuga use tradtional handmade tools of bone, tusk, turtle shells and wood.

The process of getting a pe'a is long and painful. It takes many weeks to complete the tattoo, and it is considered a rite of passage into adulthood. Those that complete their pe'a are respected for their courage, while those who start the process but do not finish are often shamed.

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