Tribal Tattoo Designs For Men Biography
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The advent of Christianity in Tonga witnessed the loss of several indigenous practices such as the practice of tatatau or tattooing. Although the art of tattooing was retained in the nation of Samoa, it was completely erased in Tonga. However, the art and practice of tattooing has been enjoying a revival in Tonga in recent years. This is a result of the work of scholars, researchers, visual artists and tattoo artists such as the two brothers – Carl and King Afa Cocker. Carl and Afa’s knowledge of Polynesian art and culture – specifically the art and tradition of tattooing – has influenced and inspired their approach to reviving the art and practice of Tongan tattoo. All of the tattoos shown on this page are original designs by Carl and Afa and should not be copied or replicated without their permission.
Shown above is a picture of a Tongan Kalia. Artistic skill and astronomical expertise went into building and navigating canoes of the early Tongans, who were among the greatest Polynesian seafarers. Depicted here are some of the vessels used around 1773. Larger war canoes, capable of carrying up to 200 men, had previously allowed Tonga to extend her domain to Samoa, the Wallis and Tokelau Islands, Fiji and elsewhere.
This picture is of a Tongan warrior complete with his sharks’ teeth necklace, a war club and the traditional warriors tattoo. Notice that the tattoo covers half of his body with solid black. This particular type of tattoo was symbolic of defiance and self confidence in the face of the enemy. (1827)
Tattooing designs on this Tongan woman’s arms from 1793 are characteristic of the general simplicity of tattoo patterns for women. In contrast, men in Tonga were tattooed more intricately and extensively, particularly on their trunks and thighs.
This picture shown above is from an engraving of a Tongan man’s thigh. This picture, drawn from life during Captain Dumont d’Urvilles voyage of the Astrolabe, is the only visual account left of a traditional Tongan male tattoo. Captain d’Urville became immortalized later in life for his discovery of the Venus de Milo on Melos.
King ‘Afa is proud to have been tattooing Polynesian art for over a decade. His technique and experiences stems from his place of birth, historical knowledge, and ability to take your idea for a tattoo and making it into a Polynesian master piece.
He grew up in Tonga and was taught about the art and history of his culture by his grandmother. Realizing that the art of Tongan tattooing was near extinction, he and his brother, Carl, began to revitalize the art form. They taught themselves how to tattoo by tattooing each other. His love for all Polynesian culture and design is what inspires his work.
King ‘Afa primarily sees clients on the West Coast, Hawai’i, and on occasional visits to New Zealand. King ‘Afa has a wide range of clientele ranging from citizens of the Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia and the United States. People from around the world come to Polynesian Tribal Tattoo for King ‘Afa’s creativity, uniqueness, customization and willingness to think outside of the box in creating tattoos for his clients. King ‘Afa’s philosophy is simple; he will not do a tattoo unless it has meaning for the client. He doesn’t copy tattoo’s or use templates. Each and every tattoo King ‘Afa does is unique and customized to the person who is getting it. It’s an art that was created to show identity, ranking or status. There are people today that are tattooing Polynesian art without knowing what it is simply because it looks good, and it’s the artist’s obligation to educate them. It’s important for tattooists and their clients to learn the designs and their history.