Traditional Marquesas Island Tattoo Designs Incorporating Tribal Symbols

Double-hulled voyaging canoe

Double-hulled voyaging canoe of the Marquesas Islands

A painting by Herb Kawainui Kane

Courtesy of Herbert K. Kane, LLC

Preparations for a voyage of discovery

Chief who wakes up [for] war

Thunderstorm over a sea at high tide…

Chief buries war beneath many mists

The cave where the war-god, Tu, makes peace

Tana’oa, what may bring you back, bring you back?

May the northeast wind blow gently.

Come hither, come this long distance,

As [surely as] the growing of coconuts,

Swing your gentle winds!

Like the petalling of handsome flowers,

Murmuring a prayer in the forest,

Come Tana’oa!

(From Chants and Love Songs of the Marquesas Islands, French Oceania, 1941, by Samuel H. Elbert in “The Journal of the Polynesian Society”, Volume 50, No. 198, pages 56, 62-63)

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