Monday, December 1, 2014

Mr Tele'as Tatau

This term we have been learning about ‘Art’. So in extension we have been studying about symbols, and mostly island patterns and designs. One of the studies were the Samoan ‘Tatau’, meaning the Samoan Pe’a for mens.

So not long ago, Mr Tele’a (Mrs Tele’as husband) came in and showed us his Pe’a. We had a lot of questions that had been answered. One of the questions that were said was ‘‘Did you get to choose the style of how you wanted the tatau?’’ Mr Tele’a said no because the tattooist looks at your background and gets all the information there. So the info that the artist got from his background is permanently on Mr Tele’as body.

For his tatau, it took more than 1 week, it took 17 sessions. So basically it was 17 days. We asked him “What inspired him to get it?”. His answer was, that his brother was wanting to get a tatau, but he needed a partner. So Mr Tele’a bravely volunteered to be his brother soa (tattoo partner). The tattooist that did Mr Tele’as and his brothers Tatau was Tuifa’asisiga Su’a.

Mr Tele’a said that when he unravelled the pe’a and put it on a paper. It will look just like a bat. One of the symbols on the Tatau is at the back. It is the va’a (boat), the representative of the va’a is the mans family. So you have to protect them under your arms, it is really cool because the va’a is right under your arms. It is around your back on the ribcage. Another desing on the Tatau was on the belly button. Mr Tele’a said it was a relief when the tattooist were up to the belly button because it was that last part to tattoo.

When getting a Tatau, you need to be respectful. You cannot show your pe’a when it is still getting done, because that is rude. But if the pe’a wasn’t finished and you just gave up. You will be walking around with an incomplete tatau, and I tell you it won't be good, because you will be living in shame.

I have learnt so many things about the Tatau that I didn’t even know. Like how the tattooist looks at your background to get ideas for your pe’a. It takes really long to do your Tatau, and also one thing I am really surprised with is that he memorises everything in his head, he doesn’t copy off a paper. It is all on his mind. Also that the Tatau is very special to the Samoans.

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