Adze

Tattooing was practised throughout Polynesia. Men were tattooed more extensively than women in the Society Islands. Designs were applied with a dye made from baked candle-nuts and oil. A miniature adze was dipped in the dye and tapped into the skin with a spatula, which was also used to wipe away dye and blood during the painful process. Tattooing was performed by tahu’a, priest-like specialists. The practice was discouraged by missionaries but has recently enjoyed a revival. Gell (1993) has made an exhaustive study of Polynesian tattoo, analysing its significance as a means of ‘wrapping’ the body.

Donated by the Devon & Exeter Institution in 1872.

Length 170mm

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
E1760
Collection Class
Personal ornament
Collection Area Region
POLYN
Material
bonewood
Common Name
adze
Simple Name
adze
Production Country
French Polynesia (Overseas Collectivity of France)
Production Year High
1872

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tattooing adze