Protected by a hard shell, equipped to navigate both land and water, capable of crossing oceans and exceptionally long-lived, it is no wonder that the turtle has been revered for thousands of years by cultures all over the world as a symbol of strength, stability and stamina.
Although tattoo art has been embraced by numerous cultures throughout history, nowhere has the sea turtle been associated with tattoos more than in the Pacific Islands. The art of tattooing has been prevalent on almost every shore of the Pacific, but achieved particular significance in Polynesia, the area defined by Hawaii in the north, New Zealand to the west, and Easter Island to the east. Where a person stood in the hierarchical society of Polynesia was determined by their current role in the tribe, as well as by their genealogy and maturity. Shark, lizard and turtle tattoo designs were primary symbols, used throughout Polynesian society. One Hawaiian myth says that it was "Honu" (Hawaiian for turtle) who guided the first inhabitants of Hawaii to their new home.
Although there are alternate myths, a reverence for the turtle's prowess in navigation is part of the Hawaiian culture. Capable of laying a hundred eggs at one time, they are viewed as symbols of fertility and creation. The sea turtle's ability to return home connects them with guidance, good luck and faithfulness. Their slow movement has some negative connotations, such as the decreased mobility of old age, but primarily the slow, dogged movement of turtles denotes steadfastness, as in Aesop's fable of the tortoise winning the race against the hare. KEALALOKAHI LOSCH is currently an Instructor in Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Studies at Kapi’olani Community College, a campus of the University of Hawai’i. For centuries, various arts of tattooing have graced the bodies and satisfied the souls of the aboriginal peoples of Oceania.
The roles, techniques and motifs of the arts of tatau, moko, and uhi have continued to exist for over 2,000 years. The master of tattooing was a highly trained individual, usually male, who was knowledgeable of both literal and figurative meanings of motifs, placement, and associated responsibilities or consequences. With great gifts come great sacrifices and the master often had to give up having a family or other permanent relationships for their craft. The role of the master in the contemporary revival has been greatly affected by the wealth of information on tattooing and general culture that is available to any that are willing to look for it.
Techniques: With the exception of the Maori moko, the process of tattooing in Polynesia has not changed much. Aside from continued rinsing with seawater, there are no specific details given in most written sources regarding the healing processes used in Polynesia, but it can be assumed that the vast pharmacological knowledge of the master would have been applied to assist in the healing. Ironically, the most predominant style of tattooing, the armband, was originally developed as a "souvenir" for American Peace Corps workers returning to the United States. The pe'a and malu are still applied today just as they were centuries ago, making Samoa the last bastion of an unbroken tradition of tattooing in Polynesia.
However, while Hawaiian tattoo designs from bold tribal arm and leg bands to illustrations of exotic flowers–have been the most prevalent in the last few decades, the art has a long and rich history. Covering one third of the planet, the Pacific Ocean is the realm of the sea turtle, and upon every land mass that the turtle has visited, legends and myths have arisen about the singular creature. Mohawk mythology ascribes earthquakes to the great World Turtle, stretching in reaction to bearing the weight of the world. As a culture with no writing, the Polynesians not only used tattoos as talismans of protection and spirituality, but as a way to exhibit their status.
An ancient petroglyph that depicts a turtle with a vertical line drawn down its shell supports this mythology.
Ancient Hawaiians believed that their "Aumakua" (guardian spirits) could take the shape of a variety of animals, including the turtle.
The curved, intact nature of the turtle shape makes it a good artistic choice for shoulder designs. These turtles are generally depicted cheerfully, viewed as a symbol that a positive attitude and determined effort spell success in life. Hawaiian tattoos basically, resemble the deep culture of Hawaiian Islands and heritage through different symbols and elements associated to the beautiful culture of Hawaii. His research into Polynesian tattooing focuses on the revival of Hawaiian uhi and Maori moko. The vast majority of what we know today about these ancient arts has been passed down through legends, songs, and ritual ceremonies.
The status of the master, the general motifs used, and the methods of application were common elements to all of the cultures of Polynesia. In most cases, it was the master who determined not only what designs were appropriate, but also who could be tattooed and when. Because most of the tattooing tended to be done on those of the higher social strata, the master was often fed and housed during the duration of the tattooing session.
The days of apprenticeships and the preservation of privileged or sacred knowledge are nearly gone from the mainstream tattoo industry and may also be a thing of the past for indigenous practices. First, the design was marked and major sections were outlined on the skin, usually with charcoal or colored earth.


However, the art is also evolving to suit the needs and tastes of a younger, often urban transplanted generation. A tribal turtle tattoo might have had a more significant meaning to one tribe than another, gaining particular importance through an association to family genealogy. A 19th century missionary to Polynesia recorded that Pa te Pou Ariki, Chief of the Takitumu tribe in Rarotonga (one of the Cook Islands) had turtle tattoos on both knees. It is said the great turtle Kailua would turn into a human female and appear to protect children playing on the beach from danger.
The master might also instruct the subject on what protocols and prohibitions needed to be observed before proceeding. Then, the master began work with the needles, which were often made of bird bone, turtle shell, bamboo, and occasionally shark teeth. But both actor and director maintained that this version of Aquaman would be more than a hero: he’d be an embodiment of Polynesian culture. The missionary noted that the turtle symbol was "reserved for the chief alone," indicating that the turtle was deeply associated with the chief's genealogy.
Tattooing for people at those times was a way to express their bravery because of the painful method by which it was done. Some of these requirements were fasting or a special diet or refraining from certain activities that might "taint" the person spiritually. The master always had to take care not to offend their gods lest their gift of tattooing others be taken away. The implement used to cut the skin and inject the ink was similar in form to an adze, with the needles mounted on the end of a wooden haft. Today, the band is most often found on the bicep and features not only traditional geometric motifs but also images of Samoan cultural artifacts, namely the tanoa ('ava bowl), the to'oto'o (orator's staff) and the fue (fly whisk). He who wields it claims divine right of rule over the world’s oceans – and, as Snyder, has confirmed, wields the ability to make even the Man of Steel bleed:“The cool thing with Aquaman is his trident – people don’t realize that can actually cut the flesh of Superman if they came in contact.
For this, the skin of the person had to be cut open and tattoo ink made up of ash and soot was poured in the cut. In Tahiti, the Arioi, a class of professional entertainers, used tattoos (tatau) to mark the various ranks and status within their troupes. Due to the intricacy of the latter designs, much of the armband work, especially in diasporic communities, is done with the tattooing machine. That’s a thing that’s in the canon.”It’s unlikely that the Trident will boast all of its comic book powers, like the ability to control the weather or transform living creatures, but it just may be the explanation for Aquaman’s mastery over the seas, waves, and all the life which dwells within it. Instead they used sharp and pointy parts of animals, like bird beaks and claws, that were connected to a branch and hit with a mallet.The Hawaiian tattoo designs are larger compared to other Polynesian designs, and bolder as well.
Then, the ash and soot were allowed to get dry so that the ink pigment may turn black.This traditional Hawaiian style tattoo is a great example of what this style of tattooing is all about. In fact, within the islands currently known as French Polynesia (the Society, Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier and Marquesas groups), the individual island groups or even individual islands had unique designs. In Hawai'i, there was occasionally a fourth step in the process between the inking and the healing.
After the ink was inserted the first time, the uhi was sometimes darkened with the juices or saps of other plants, most notably the 'ilie'e (Plumbago zeylanica). In this case, the armor, along with the trident, is fairly common for any and all warriors intended to imply a connection to the sea. Common Hibiscus colors are yellow, red, pink, white and purple.Another popular Hawaiian tattoo design is the orchid tattoo, especially ghost orchid designs.
Unfortunately, while Tonga once had a strong tradition of tattoo (tatatau), the missionary presence of the 19th century completely extinguished the art.
The fisherman’s weapon was used by the Retiarius – gladiators in the Roman Colosseum who sported a similar single-arm shoulder and arm protection (known as a manica).But for those Polynesians who practice the art of tribal tattoos going back centuries (including the half-Hawaiian Momoa’s ancestors), marking one’s skin with ink was all the armor needed. The solid black lines and the flow of the whole thing give you the knowledge that this tattoo was most likely very painful but well worth it.But with the influence of Western culture, Hawaiian tattoos began to gain colour and each design started getting an exotic touch. In Rapanui, tattoos (ta') were used extensively as well, although not much is known by the outside world today about their meanings or usages. Techniques and purpose vary across Polynesian peoples, but several common images and spiritual connections persist.
But traditionally, the designs used to revolve around geometric patterns and symmetric designs, that too in black ink.The style followed by Hawaiians and Maori culture was the same.
Hawaiian arm tattoos are often a nod to the traditional Hawaiian tattoo style, though with a decidedly modern appearance.Michael Malone, tattoo artist and one of the students of Sailor Jerry (see further), created the Hawaiian armband tattoo in the 70s. Although, men and women both used to get those painful tattoos inked on their skin but men usually outnumbered the women. Although he based his designs on the traditional Hawaiian tattoo motifs, the armband itself is not traditional.
Though sharks are known to most mainlanders today for their lethality, the shark deity Ka-moho-ali?i is particularly revered, often credited with guiding the first peoples of Hawaii to the islands.Because of that, lines or fields of the triangular shark teeth are meant to communicate guidance, ferocity, and power.
But each tattoo held a deep meaning within itself and depicted a great story for its emergence.


These tattoos seem to be spread all over Aquaman’s sides and chest, once again implying his authority – and responsibility – over his people. As it happens, the armored bracer on Aquaman’s left arm is adorned with the exact same field of shark teeth Momoa already possesses.
Although full body tattooing was not meant for women, but still they had their fair share of them.
As he explained in an interview with Inked magazine, the shark is his aumakua, or family deity:“It’s something my cousins all have, and it goes on the left side of your arm—it’s like a guardian. It’s basically like your power animal, whatever animal represents your family or your tribe.
You appear to know a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the e book in it or something.
Even the parts of this tattoo that are more simple and less detailed like the pieces of his right side are eye catching. The negative space on this chest piece is used very well andAs Hawaiian tattoos possess deep meaning in themselves, they are worn by many men and women to represent the Hawaiian tradition and heritage.
These tattoos can depict the whole history of the great Hawaiian culture and portray a specific island or the state of Hawaii. They are as a symbol of respect for their ancient cultural heritage.SYMBOLS AND MEANINGSHawaiian tattoo designs symbolize religious devotion, rites , bravery, status, ranks and heritage. It is a conception that the green gecko brings illness and bad fortune to whomever it comes in contact with.3. What I love about this tattoo is that not only is it a gecko, but its also a beautiful tribal design at the same time. A very clever idea to add to this tattoo is that every limb of the gecko is a different style.
The dorsal fin was done really well and it wasn’t lost in the midst of the rest of the shark.
This shows what looks like an older man guessing from the body dressing up in traditional Hawaiian attire and taking on a whole other aura.
The oversized mask is very well illustrated but also gives this tattoo a sense of humor by the size of it. The symmetrical bottom legs and top legs give this turtle consistency but also individuality at the same time. The way that the color is popping out of the flower tattoo causes you to instantly be drawn to it. The perfectly placed yellows and shading create the feeling that this flower real enough to touch and pluck its peddles. The slight reds in the middle of the flower and the way that they oranges and yellows dance within the flower bring this tattoo to life. This classic traditional American style tattoo of a Hawaiian woman adds culture, flare, and style all on one piece.
This rib piece would have been painful but we can clearly see that the outcome was well worth the pain.
The tattoo artist could have taken the easy way out, but he or she decided to make this tattoo look like its popping off the skin. The green really stands out in the little tongue sticking out adds character to this little guy. You can see the smile on this lizards face and the hint of light blue within the tail is a good touch. I love the way that the yellow is mixed in with the green within the body of the lizard and how this tattoo almost looks like a child through it.
The way that the antennas of this lobster are underneath and backwards, you can assume that this guy is in movement. I like how an average fish hook was made to look like it was ready to kill or catch the most deadly animals in the sea. The consistent shapes within the hook are breath taking and the shading would impress even the biggest tattoo critic. The claws or blades on the outside of this hook would strike fear and cause damage to anything that it caught. I like how the rays are smaller at the top of the back and how they get longer as they go down the back. I have seen a multitude of turtle tattoos and wide range of Hawaiian tribal tattoos, but this combination of both trumps all of them. The way that the tribal part of this tattoo and the turtle mesh so smoothly together is breath taking.



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