The islands of Hawaii have a long history of tattooing that extend back more than 2,000 years. Used to indicate status and as a rite of passage, early tattoos were created with thousands of individual pricks from a bird beak or bone. Black, geometric designs were based on ancient symbolism and applied in bands that covered an entire torso.
Today, Hawaiian-style tattoos can symbolise the natural elements of the island and your appreciate for this state's unique history. Whether you choose a symbolic floral pattern, a historic god image or an animal talisman, a Hawaiian tattoo artwork will make a permanent statement.
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The yellow hibiscus flower is the state flower of Hawaii; this beautiful, complex flower is a popular choice for a tattoo to honour this tropical state. Personalise the look by using different colours such as pink, purple and red or by using additional elements such as a water spray or a wave in the background.
Orchids are another flower favoured among Hawaiian tattoo enthusiasts. These exotic flowers offer the opportunity to create a dimensional, delicate and colourful image that symbolises "rare beauty." Lotus flowers are another popular choice that often represent spirituality.
A unique take on an armband, a lei image, which is basically a flowered necklace, can be an eye-catching tattoo on a woman's arm or around her ankle.
The Hawaiian islands have a rich cultural history of mythology and the worship of gods to quiet the area's chaotic environment of volcanoes and churning oceans. Human sacrifice was practised in Hawaii, and at one time temples and the Kahunas, or priests, that ran them ruled the villages. Tiki god tattoos symbolise the protection of a specific god or show respect for Hawaiian art and history.
There are numerous gods to choose from when considering a Hawaiian god tattoo. For example, Lono is the god of peace and prosperity, while Keuakepo is the god of "rain of fire," or volcanic eruptions. Kane is the god of light and life and symbolises life in nature, and Kauhuhu is the shark god, a meaningful tattoo for avid surfers.
Tiki god tattoos will give you a unique island art look; featuring a rectangular totemlike design that will fit perfectly on an arm or leg area, personalise the tattoo by incorporating imagery that relates to the specific god you are representing. For example, if you want a tattoo of Keuakeopo, add hot sparks and fire around the image to make it stand out.
Like most early civilisations, Hawaiian people felt a connection to animal energies on the island. Every animal that lived on the land or in the water represented life and death to islanders. As a Hawaiian child's personality developed, family would draw comparisons with a familiar animal, which determined the child's "totem" or protective talisman.
Using a traditional representation of a Hawaiian animal spirit as your tattoo design can express aspects of your personality as well as honour ancient Hawaiian tradition. For example, an owl was seen to have healing powers, while a turtle was believed to help ease the pain of childbirth. Tattoos are done in traditional black, geometric designs that fit nicely on a shoulder, arm or neck.
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