Meaning of Tatau 3

The Tatau in Sāmoan Culture:

While searching for the meaning of the Tatau one must learn about the Tatau in Sāmoan culture. The Tatau is integrated into Sāmoan culture and people. Historically, and traditionally, the Tatau was never considered a negative thing, or associated with any things or anyone negatively.

Tatau in Sāmoa is not: an act of rebellion, spur of the moment decision, done while intoxicated, or associated with criminals, or a hidden mark.

Tatau in Sāmoa is: rite of passage, a family involved event in life, symbol of service to ʻĀiga - family and Matai - Chiefs, art form thousands of years old, a symbol of Aganuʻu - culture and/or pursuit of culture knowledge, Living Faʻa Sāmoa - the Sāmoan way

If any the only negative associated with the Tatau are: An unfinished Tatau and the negative actions done by those who practiced or live with the Tatau on them.


To define the word "Tatau" as Striking till we reach a satisfactory conclusion or completion (of the Tatau) could mean that we could use the word to describe the action of Tatau, art form of Tatau, and to generally define Tatau much as the word Tattoo is used other languages. The understand the meaning of the Tatau goes beyond the definition of the word. One must understand its origin, its literal meaning, how it is integrated into the culture, into the lives of those who practice and live with the art.