Inside: Samoan Tattoo Designs and Meanings.

What is the meaning of the Samoan tattoo?

The artwork and designs go beyond being skin deep—there is history and deep meanings behind them.
The tattoo and designs of the Samoa islands represent community, power, status, respect, honor, and are a mark of pride that are only to be worn by Samoans.
Samoan Tattoo Definition

How Samoan tattoos are done?

Samoan tattoos are done by placing a tattoo comb on the end of the stick, dipping the stick into the tattoo ink, placing the comb against the skin, and hitting the stick with a mallet to force the ink into the skin.

How long does a Samoan tattoo take?

Traditionally, this process takes five days (although often it can take weeks) and is extraordinarily painful.

Samoan Tattoo Ideas

1. Thigh Band Samoan Design

2. Detailed Samoan Half Sleeve Tattoo Idea

3. Forearm Design Piece 

4. Chest and Bicep Tattoo Idea

5. Samoan Leg Sleeve

Samoan Tattoo Ideas

Samoan Tattoo Designs and Their Meanings

They are all about symbolism in objects and animals found in nature and typical Samoan life.

They often are symbols that denote a meaning that is meant to be added to a larger tattoo, as they often mix symbols together into a large piece.

It is important to remember, though, that although many of these tattoos do have Polynesian and Samoan meanings, most of them are simply meant for decorating the body and bringing pride and honor to their culture by wearing them on their bodies.

Samoan Diagonal

This design of Samoan tatau reaches from the upper shoulder down to the lower midsection diagonally. It is typically an elaborate pattern with thick lines and has a powerful look to it. The diagonal body tattoo is a tattoo meant for a large decoration of the body and is a sense of pride in Samoan culture to receive such an elaborate tattoo.

Samoan Triangle

The Samoan triangle tattoos are done with black ink around the triangles leaving the skin showing to form the triangles’ shape. The triangle in Samoan tradition has a different meaning depending on how many triangles are present. Each amount of triangles signifies a symbol of respect to a different family member.

Samoan Flower

Often using a hibiscus flower, Samoan flower tattoos are often accented with Samoan patterns to shape the background surrounding the flower. The flower itself is lightly shaded to give the flower depth but not too detailed– this symbol is very simple and elegant. The meaning of the Samoan flower is common for Polynesian women to use as a decoration for their hands, arms, or anywhere on their body. It shows their femininity and decorates their body in a way that is pleasing and makes them more powerfully connected to their culture.

Samoan Sun Tattoo

The Samoan sun tattoo is designed in a geometrical pattern centered between different patterns which complement the sun. This is often a chest tattoo or done as part of a sleeve. The meaning of the Samoan sun tattoo is connected to the sun’s meaning of a rebirth. It symbolizes leadership and eternal life, as well as the brilliance of life on Earth.

Samoan Turtle Shell

The turtle shell is shown in Samoan tattoos as a symbolic image of lines and dots which signifies the meaning of the turtle shell. This turtle shell tattoo’s meaning is protection because the turtle shell is related to a shield. Another interesting interpretation of this tattoo is of intimacy, symbolizing both marriage and the love two couples share.

Samoan Shark Teeth

Shark teeth tattoos are similar to triangle tattoos but are many triangles put together in a row using thin black lines. Shark teeth tattoos can mean protection, as the shark is very powerful. The shark is also a ferocious being, so it also symbolizes power, and guidance through difficult circumstances.

Samoan Turtle Tattoo

The Samoan Turtle tattoo is a basic symbol using thick lines to create a turtle-like shape. This shape can be incorporated into larger sleeves, back, or chest pieces. The meaning of this turtle tattoo is the hope for long life or even an eternal soul. It also symbolizes harmony in the family and fertility in the family. Last, it symbolizes good navigation through life or literally through the sea.

Samoan Feather

The Samoan feather tattoo is common for women because it is absolutely beautiful. It can be a back piece showing two feathers flowing toward each other, for example. Samoan women would get a feather tattoo to show their respect for nature and the beyond and also to decorate their bodies with something beautiful to enhance their beauty and show their pride in their culture.

Samoan Spearhead Tattoo: Fa’aulutao

The Samoan Spearhead tattoo is a diagonal group of shapes linked together in a line. This tattoo used bold black coloring around the spearheads to emphasize their dramatic appearance. The spearhead tattoo’s meaning signifies the great courage of a warrior and the strength to fight a battle and to fight through to another day.

Samoan Ocean Waves

The ocean waves tattoo is done in a tribal manner with simple wave imagery done with thick black lines. The ocean waves symbolize both death and life because the ocean both brings sustenance but also is dangerous and brings death. Therefore, this tattoo symbolizes the delicate balance between life and death.

Samoan Lizard

The Samoan lizard tattoo is another tribal symbol created bylines and a central body that may not look like a lizard but is more of a symbolic representation of it. The lizard’s meaning to Samoan’s and Polynesians, in general, is a guardian of evil, sickness, war, and famine. Nearby cultures often associate the lizard’s meaning with survival from catastrophes.

Learn More About Tattoos

  • Humming Bird Tattoo Ideas – A popular subject in the tattoo world is the Hummingbird. It is a thing of beauty that has unique shapes and amazing abilities. Capturing those qualities in a tattoo can be really rewarding. Have a look at our list of the Prettiest Hummingbird Tattoo Ideas.
  • Half Sleeve Tattoo Ideas for Women – Tattoos have grown in popularity over the last decade but the half sleeve tattoos for women, in particular, have been growing rapidly. This tattoo begins either above the elbow to the shoulder or below the elbow to the wrist. This type of tattoo takes thought in creation, but it also takes thought in whether it works for each person, as it’s not as easy to cover up. Many questions arise and endless hours of research occur when looking for that perfect look. What is the statement I am trying to make? What will these tattoos represent? And the list could go on, and on, and on…
  • Semicolon Tattoo Ideas – Each tattoo is unique and a representation of its wearer’s style, emotions, and life. The semicolon tattoo is a popular symbol of an internal and silent struggle. Here are 89 of the most inspiring Semicolon Tattoo ideas.