Tattooing is a rite of passage in Samoan societies. Anthropologist Anne-Sylvie Malbrancke prepares to attend an ancestral tattooing ceremony with clan chief Magic. She must wear a lavalava, the traditional Samoan outfit.
Magic plans a celebration for his younger brother; Stevie will get the last part of his tattoo. Stevie has been living away from the family, getting tattooed every day for two weeks. The tattoos are about service to the family.
Magic's nephews prepare a pig using the Polynesian method of umu. Tattoos symbolize entrance into Samoan society. Uncles and aunts oversee the cooking, explaining the meaning behind their tattoos.
Magic gets Malbrancke a meeting with the master tattooist, an honored position. Samoan legend states that the gods gave the gift of tattooing to two families. Li'aifaiva explains his tools and process.
Stevie receives the last section of his tattoo around the navel; it is considered the most painful. Body markers and modification are commonly found in anthropological study. Stevie's family provides support.
All the island's chiefs welcome Stevie as a full member of the community once his tattoo is finished. At the closing ceremony, the community presents gifts to the tattooist and Stevie performs a traditional dance.
Credits: Samoa: Tattoo Heritage
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For the past two weeks, Stivi has been getting tattooed every day. In a few hours, he will start the final and most painful phase of his tattooing: The navel. The tattooing practiced in Samoa is not comparable to the fashionable trend in Europe, where tattoos remain fairly soft.
Length: 27 minutes
Copyright date: ©2019
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