Hawaii islands belongs to the Polynesian islands, all of which have a very rich and old tradition of tattoos. Most of the modern day tattoos are based on the traditional tribal tattoos from the Polynesian islands. The word for tattoo in the Hawaiian language is uhi, which means covering the body. There is a belief that the western world was introduced to the world of tattoos as a body art only after Captain James Cook made his famous journey to the Hawaii islands.
Hawaiian Tattoo History
In ancient Hawaii, tattoos were made as an indicator of the importance of the person in the hierarchy of the society they lived in. Each of the tattoo which was made had a meaning attached to it and the tattoos were displayed on various parts of the body. Hawaiian tattoo designs were made on the hands, feet, fingers, calves, back, shoulders, chest, etc. Face tattoos were rather very popular in the Hawaiian islands. Face tattoos were made on the brow ridge, cheek bone, cheeks and chin.
Hawaiian tattoos have a deep and personal meaning and they were often made for individual identification and not only for ceremonial purposes, as was common in the other islands of Polynesia. Read on Polynesian tattoo. The number of tattoos on a person’s body was directly proportional to the wealth possessed by the individual. Tattoos were not worn only by common man, but they were also worn by defeated warriors and convicted criminals. In a way this was a method used to brand people. Bird beaks, bird claws and large fish bones were used to make the tattoos. Black ink was used to make tattoos in the Hawaiian islands. The designs used were bold and also big in size.
Hawaiian Tattoo Meanings
A lot of significance was attached to the tattoos in the Hawaiian islands. Since a lot of significance was attached to the tattoos, the people were very particular about the tattoo designs. The tattoos were made for various causes. They were made to mark mourning, for protection from the evil spirits, decoration or as a part of celebration, not to forget social status and personal identification. Click to read on Hawaiian tribal tattoos and Polynesian tribal tattoos.
Hawaiian Tattoo Designs
The Hawaiian tattoo symbols often have hidden meanings that are generally much deeper and personal than what it appears visually. Lizards (geckos) and sea turtles are very popular designs in Hawaiian tattoos. Sea turtles symbolize fertility, while geckos are symbol of fear and respect. Along with the sea turtles, there are other sea creatures, which also have their own place in Hawaii tattoos. Dolphins are among popular sea creatures used for tattoos. They are looked upon as an expression of joy. After dolphins, sharks have a special place in Hawaiian tattoos. Shark tattoos are made by people who have chosen a shark as their personal God. It also denotes protection against attacks from shark.
Flower tattoos have a special place in Hawaiian tattoos. However, these tattoo designs may not always appeal to everyone, as these designs may not particularly be feminine despite the floral components in them. Hibiscus tattoos are the most popular and commonly used Hawaiian flower tattoo design. It can be attributed to the fact that the yellow hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii. The colors used to make these tattoos are yellow, red, pink, white and purple. Among flower tattoos, orchid tattoos are also very popular, especially ghost orchid tattoo designs. Ghost orchids are beautiful and have rather peculiar features. Now that orchids are endangered, the symbolic meaning of orchid tattoos is ‘rare beauty”.
People often chose to get Hawaiian tattoos as they are proud of their heritage. They are also made to show their liking for the Hawaiian culture and heritage after a visit to the islands. There are a number of celebrities who sport Hawaiian tattoo designs. As always, before getting a tattoo done, make sure you have thought well about the design you want, as tattoo removal is a painful and tedious process. That being said, once you have made your decision, the above Hawaiian tattoo ideas can be the base you choose your own unique tattoo from.