There are a couple of ways you can look at traditional tattooing. If you’re Japanese, you might think of the large koi fish or dragons that typically adorn the bodies of your local crime syndicate. Or you could imagine the tats seen on sailors in old cartoons, where most of the images comprise of ships, anchors, and sea faring motifs. But the most traditional might actually be the black Polynesian patterned work from the Samoan and Marquesan Islands. Besides pre-dating both American and Japanese traditional-style work, the word tattoo itself comes from the Polynesian word “tatau”. Suluape Steve Looney comes from the great tradition of Samoan tattooing through his teacher, Suluape Petelo, who can trace his ancestry back to one of the original families tattooing in Samoa. Although Steve uses tattoo machines, as opposed to traditional hand tools, he still has the knowledge and reverence that make him an excellent person to talk to about the subject of Samoan style tattoos.moreless
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