Samoan dating customs
Because of the pain involved, though, it is also considered a rite of passage into adulthood.
In my experience though, it’s usually the young man who approaches his elders with the desire for a tattoo, and as long as he hasn’t done anything horrible to make his family hate him, his request is usually approved with pride.
I loved sitting in his class, listening to his stories about old Samoa, absorbing his profound wisdom about the Fa’asamoa – but I was probably the least knowledgeable of all his students. I had so many questions, and with great enthusiasm he helped me to understand.
I was the only one who would reply to him in English when he asked a question. In my time with Tanuvasa, this is what I learned about the Samoan tattoo: We call it ‘Tatau‘, and according to legend, it was brought to Samoa by two sisters.
The only requirement now is that the young man find a ‘soa’, another worthy relative who will receive the tattoo at the same time as him.
I’m not sure how the tradition of the came about, but I have heard that having a loved one with you through all that pain is often a great source of comfort, a real bonding experience. Once a tauleale’a receives a malofie, he is now known as a ‘sogaimiti‘.