Nicholas Thomas, Anna Cole, Bronwen Douglas (et al.)

Tattoo : bodies, art, and exchange in the Pacific and the West

Duke university press

Durham (North Carolina), 2005

bibliothèque insulaire


peintres des îles

parutions 2005

Tattoo : bodies, art, and exchange in the Pacific and the West / Nicholas Thomas, Anna Cole, Bronwen Douglas (et al.). - Durham (North Carolina) : Duke university press, 2005. - 256 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN 0-8223-3562-X

DESCRIPTION : The history of tattooing is shrouded in controversy. Citing the Polynesian derivation of the word « tattoo », many scholars and tattoo enthusiasts have believed that the modern practice of tattooing originated in the Pacific, and specifically in the contacts between Captain Cook's seamen and the Tahitians.

Tattoo demonstrates that while the history of tattooing is far more complex than this, Pacific body arts have provided powerful stimuli to the West intermittently from the eighteenth century to the present day. The essays collected here document the extraordinary, intertwined histories of processes of cultural exchange and Pacific tattoo practices. Art historians, anthropologists, and scholars of Oceania provide a transcultural history of tattooing in and beyond the Pacific.

The contributors examine the contexts in which Pacific tattoos were « discovered » by Europeans, track the history of the tattooing of Europeans visiting the region, and look at how Pacific tattooing was absorbed, revalued, and often suppressed by agents of European colonization. They consider how European art has incorporated tattooing, and they explore contemporary manifestations of Pacific tattoo art, paying particular attention to the different trajectories of Samoan, Tahitian, and Maori tattooing and to the meaning of present-day appropriations of tribal tattoos.

New research has uncovered a rich visual archive of centuries-old tattoo images, and this richly illustrated volume includes a number of those — many published here for the first time — alongside images of contemporary tattooing in Polynesia and Europe. Tattoo offers a tantalizing glimpse into the plethora of stories and cross-cultural encounters that lie between the blood on a sailor's backside in the eighteenth century and the hammering of a Samoan tattoo tool in the twenty-first.


Introduction, Nicholas Thomas

Part One : Histories and Encounters

  • « Curious Figures » : European Voyagers and Tatau/Tattoo in Polynesia, 1595-1800, Bronwen Douglas
  • « Speckled Bodies » : Russian Voyagers and Nuku Hivans, 1804, Elena Govor
  • Marks of Transgression : The Tattooing of Europeans in the Pacific Islands, Joanna White
  • Christian Skins : Tatau and the Evangelization of the Society Islands and Samoa, Anne D'Alleva
  • Governing Tattoo : Reflections on a Colonial Trial, Anna Cole

Part Two : Contemporary Exchanges

  • The Temptation of Brother Anthony : Decolonization and the Tattooing of Tony Fomison, Peter Brunt
  • Samoan Tatau as Global Practice, Sean Mallon
  • Multiple Skins : Space, Time and Tattooing in Tahiti, Makiko Kuwahara
  • Wearing Moko : Maori Facial Marking in Today's World, Linda Waimarie Nikora, Mohi Rua and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
  • Beyond Modern Primitivism, Cyril Siorat

Epilogue : Embodied Exchanges and their Limits, Nicholas Thomas

Select Bibliography
Notes on the Editors and Contributors
Photographic Acknowledgements


mise-à-jour : 14 août 2009