‘Tatau: Marks of Polynesia’ coming to Bishop Museum

Oahu’s Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum will debut a new exhibit in its J. M. Long Gallery: Tatau: Marks of Polynesia that will be on view from Nov. 13 through July 4, 2022.

Tattooing has long been held as not just a practice in art but also a way to tell stories through art, through the intimate painting of one’s body. Samoa’s tatau is one of the world’s most distinct tattoo traditions. An indigenous artform, it dates back 2,000 years and has played a pivotal role in the preservation and propagation of Samoan culture.


Through photographs taken in a studio and on location in Samoa, “Tatau: Marks of Polynesia” will showcase the work of traditional tatau masters alongside that of younger practitioners and artists who are adopting tatau’s motifs and styles for new media and art forms.

Thes exhibition is an opportunity to learn what tatau signifies in Samoan culture, and how it helps Sāmoans and other Polynesians living abroad stay connected to their identity and heritage.


Additional photographs taken in Hawaii, New Zealand, California, and Nevada demonstrate the spread of the art form outside of Samoa and some of its newer interpretations.

Tickets will be available soon at www.bishopmuseum.org.

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