Armband tattoo

Polynesian Armband Tattoo

Polynesian Armband tattoo

The intricacy and abstract nature of Polynesian armband tattoo armband tattoos has led to their continued popularity for hundreds of years. They are some of the most varied and eye-catching designs available anywhere in the world, and they have such a wide spectrum of meanings that just about anyone can find a tribal armband tattoo that fits with their life.


Tiki is a human-like figure that represents Polynesian semi-gods, which means deified ancestors and heads, who are sublimed after their death. According to its guardian role, they mainly symbolize protection. If you love playing pc games, you’ll find that in many lost temples, Tiki patterns are often carved on pillars or stone gate.

Tiki plays a very important role in Polynesian culture. For example, nose symbols mean sniffing danger before its coming. Tiki’s eyes, nose, mouth and side faces are all important design elements and most Polynesian tattoo designs contain one or more tiki symbols.

Sea Shell

In Polynesian tattoo designs, shells are very common in many designs, especially turtle shells. Turtle shell is a symbolization of turtle, which is a very important sea creature in all the cultures of the Polynesian triangle. It has more meanings than other symbols. Some complex turtle designs could have quite a lot of meanings, according to its elements embedded in. Basically, turtle shells symbolize longevity, wellness, fertility, and peace

Shark Teeth

Shark teeth are another fish symbol which is very popular among Polynesian tattoo fans.  Nearly over 50% Polynesian tattoo designs have shark teeth symbols embedded in.

Shark teeth usually represent shelter or coverage, guidance, power, ferocity, adaptability, etc. In Polynesian legend, sharks also represent the god of Polynesian people. It has lots of variations and combinations like the ones showed in the pictures above.


Ocean symbols are very common among Polynesian tattoo designs.  Polynesian people regard the ocean as their final destination where they go when passed away. So sometimes the ocean is a symbol of death, or the world beyond.

Polynesian Armband Tattoo

The Polynesian armband tattoo

Spearheads are usually in combination with other symbols to express certain meanings.

One thing that is certain is that the term Polynesian or Polynesia incorporates many tribes including Marquesans, Samoans, Niueans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, Hawaiians, Tahitians, and Maori.

However, Polynesian languages may actually vary slightly from each other, and in some cases, they actually differ quite significantly. There are some words, which are basically the same throughout all Polynesian languages, reflecting the deepest core of all Polynesian cultures. Moana (ocean) and mana (spiritual force and energy) are two terms that transcend all Polynesian cultures.

Moana (ocean) and mana (spiritual force and energy) are two terms that transcend all Polynesian cultures.

The Origins of Tattoo Art in Polynesia

Historically there was no writing in the Polynesian culture so the Polynesian’s used tattoo art that was full of distinctive signs to express their identity and personality. Tattoos would indicate status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and ones rank within the society.

However, the European navigators showed little interest due to the lack of valuable resources.

Captain James Cook (as mentioned in our comprehensive guide to Maori tattooing) was the first navigator trying to explore the aforementioned Polynesian triangle.

In 1771, when James Cook first returned to Tahiti and New Zealand from his first voyage, the word “tattoo” appeared in Europe.

He narrated the behaviors of the Polynesian people in his voyage, which he called tattaw. He also brought a Tahitian named Ma’i to Europe. Since then tattoo started to become rapidly famous, predominantly because of the tattoos of Ma’i.

Another legend is that European sailors liked the Polynesian tattoos. So much that they spread extremely fast in Europe because the sailors emblazoned the tattoos on their own bodies.

The actual tradition of Polynesian tattooing existed more than 2000 years ago. However, in the 18th century the Old Testament strictly banned the operation. But it became very difficult to sterilize the wooden and bone tools.

The revival of the art and practice of tattooing, particularly in Tonga in recent years.

Maori Polynesian Armband Tattoo

Polynesian Armband Tattoo

Amazing Polynesian Armband Tattoo

Maori tattoos are begin in New Zealand. They started from a love affair between a very young man called Mataora and a princess whose name was Niwareka who was from the underworld. It is said that Mataora beat Niwareka which resulted to Niwareka going back to her father’s home. Mataora was left alone and during this period, he griefed having hit Niwareka and decided to look for her. He went and begged for forgiveness and Niwareka accepted it. Mataora tattooed this form of Maori tattoo as a reminder to avoid evil actions of beating his wife.

Meaning of Maori Tattoos

Maori tattoos had great significance among the maori tribe. One of the main meanings of this type of tattoo is the world beyond. This is very important to some people who belief by having such symbolism in their body, it will keep them off diseases or any disaster that may befall them.

Polynesian Tattoo Dictionary

Enata: this Polynesian motif symbolizes both humans and gods. A reversed enata symbolizes an enemy.

Lizard: also portrayed as a gecko, this tattoo design represents a creature with the power to communicate with gods. That a lizard tattoo design brings good fortune to the wearer.

Marquesan Cross: based off of the turtle’s shell, this abstract tattoo design symbolizes the balance between the elements, as well as universal harmony.

Ocean: the Polynesians believed that the ocean was their final destination, the place where they would go to die. Hence, the ocean came to symbolize death and the world beyond. Since these people relied so heavily on the water as a source of nutrition, it also represents fertility abundance.

Shark Teeth: also known as ‘niho mano,’ the shark tooth is a popular Polynesian symbol. As such, the shark tooth has come to represent guidance, shelter, and power.

Shells: both turtle shells and seashells are important Polynesian symbols. Generally, they represent longevity, wellness, fertility, and peace.

Spearheads: these geometric designs are an expression of courage in battle. A line of spearheads facing the same direction represent the defeat of the enemy.

Sun: as the most important element of Polynesian society, the sun stands for richness, brilliance, and rebirth.

Tiki: this human-like figure represents the Polynesian semi-gods.

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