Unlock the Symbolism: Exploring 17 Mesmerizing Polynesian Tattoos with Deep Meaning

Polynesian Tattoos Ideas

Introduction to Polynesian tattoos

Polynesian tattoos have a rich cultural history and are renowned for their intricate designs and deep meanings. These tattoos originate from the Polynesian islands and have been passed down through generations, serving as a way to express one’s identity and tell a story. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of Polynesian tattoos, exploring their history, significance, and the common symbols used in their designs.

What is polynesian tattoo meanings ?

Polynesian tattoos have a deep meaning, tradition and history associated with it. When you talk about tribal tattoos it means you are talking about Polynesian tattoos. Traditional Polynesian tattoos stand out from a lot of tribal tattoos due to the deep and delicate detailing. Instead of adding some cool looking lines or solid black waves, the Polynesian tattoos have a story to tell.

They try to tell different abilities depending on the symbols on the skin. Thanks to the aftercare tattoo lotion, the risk related by these traditional tattoos is diminished to a great extent.

The history and significance of Polynesian tattoos

Polynesian tattoos have a long-standing tradition that dates back thousands of years. They were an integral part of the Polynesian culture, serving as a form of tribal identification, social status, and spiritual protection. These tattoos were not just mere body art, but rather a representation of one’s personal journey, achievements, and connection to their ancestors.

In Polynesian society, the process of getting a tattoo was considered sacred and required careful preparation. The tattoo artist, known as a “tufuga ta tatau,” held great respect and was regarded as a master in their craft. The tattooing process was a rite of passage, often accompanied by rituals and prayers to ensure the wearer’s safety and spiritual well-being.

Common symbols and their meanings in Polynesian tattoos

Polynesian tattoos are characterized by their intricate patterns and symbols, each with its own unique meaning. These symbols often represent elements found in nature, such as animals, plants, and celestial bodies. Here are some commonly used symbols in Polynesian tattoos and their meanings:

  1. Enata: The enata symbol represents human figures and is often used to depict ancestors, family, and personal relationships. It symbolizes the interconnectedness of individuals and the importance of family bonds.
  2. Shark: The shark is a powerful symbol in Polynesian culture, representing strength, adaptability, and protection. It is often associated with warriors and is believed to provide guidance and ward off danger.
  3. Sun: The sun is a symbol of life, vitality, and prosperity. It represents energy and power, shining light on one’s path and illuminating their journey. The sun is also associated with leadership and authority.
  4. Turtle: The turtle symbolizes longevity, wisdom, and protection. It is believed to carry the weight of the world on its back and is associated with stability and perseverance.
  5. Ocean: The ocean is a significant symbol in Polynesian tattoos, representing the vastness of life’s journey and the unknown. It symbolizes exploration, adaptability, and the ability to navigate through challenges.

Picture of Polynesian Tattoos with Meanings

The following are traditional tattoo polynesian designs that convey a meaning. If you are looking for a custom tribal tattoo design done quickly for you, you can check out Tattoo Stylist as your go to professional service for tattoo designs.

1. Polynesian Turtle Tattoo

Turtle and tiki tattoo

The art of tattooing is popular on almost every Pacific island. Turtle tattoo designs are primary symbols and used throughout the Polynesian society. Since it is a tribal culture, meaning for the tattoo can vary from tribe to tribe. A tribal turtle tattoo may have a lot of significance in one tribe than another gaining importance through an association to family genealogy. In the tribal culture, the war god Tu was represented by turtle and warriors wore more tattoos as an armor to protect them in the battle. Turtle and tiki tattoo is a popular choice of immortality, fertility, strength, security, creation, perseverance, endurance, good luck, faithfulness, guidance, stability and healer tattoo symbol .

2. Turtle and Spearhead Polynesian

Turtle and Spearhead hawaiian tribal tattoos

Turtle and spearhead tattoos are geometric designs that are an expression of courage in a battle. The line of spearheads in one direction is an indication of defeat for the army. The spear represents the warrior nature. This Hawaiian tribal tattoos design combined with the spearhead exemplifies endurance, security and stability in any situation.

3. Tribal Polynesian Inspiration Tattoo Design

Polynesian tattoos vary and have different symbolic meanings that depend on the culture of the island they come from. Each island has its own culture and tradition. These chest tattoos are used as protective talismans, while others used it more as a rite of passage to express their belonging to a particular tribe. These samoan design tattoos ideas for men are an inspiration of courage and strength and who wouldn’t want that on their arms.

4. Tiki Shark Teeth Spear Head Polynesian Tattoo for men

Tiki Shark Teeth Spear Head Polynesian Tattoo for men

Tiki is a human like figure that represents the Polynesian semi-gods. These were considered ancestors sublimed after death. They were believed to be protective and played the role of a guardian. Shark was also believed to be the god of Polynesian people and hence the shark tooth came to represent shelter, guidance and power.

5. Tiki and Ocean

Tiki Shark Teeth Spear Head Polynesian Tattoo

The Polynesian Tiki, the semi-god and Ocean tattoos of islands has a lot of meaning. The Ocean is the final destination when people die according to the Polynesian people. This symbol means death or afterlife. On the other hand it could also mean the source of food. It represents life, fertility and persistence. Ocean completes a lifecycle and the waves symbolize the other world that is beyond our control and is the land where our ancestor lives.

6. Sun, Turtle and Spearhead Polynesian Tattoo

Sun Turtle and Spearhead Polynesian Tattoo

The sun is seen together with other symbols to express specific meanings. A lot of rounded Polynesian tattoo designs include the suns meaning. In the Polynesian culture the Sun stands for brilliance, richness, leadership and grandness. The meaning of the tattoo design which includes the sun can vary from design to design. Turtle is often seen in various complex patterns and symbols that express different meanings. Spearhead is a symbol of courage and valor. When these three are combined together it can have many different meanings.

7. Sun and Shark Teeth Polynesian

Sun and Shark Teeth Polynesian tattoo

A shark tooth is another popular fish symbol in the Polynesian tattoo designs. Nearly 50 percent have shark teeth designs. It represents courage, shelter, ferocity and adaptability. Some even consider Sharks as their God. They come in any different combinations and display varied meanings. As sun too is important in these cultures, when sun is combined with shark teeth the meaning can change. The purpose of this particular tattoo is to convey the message of courage and valor with richness and brilliance.

8. Spearhead Polynesian with Flower Tattoos

This is a beautiful Polynesian tattoo that depicts flowers that is accentuated by ornate designs. They reach out like tentacles across the back and reaching out to the shoulders. Here two motifs of Polynesian culture has been incorporated, one being spearhead, which represents agility, power and swiftness.

9. Spearhead Polynesian on Leg

Spearhead tattoo can be found on almost every Polynesian tattoo design. The spearhead tattoo is designed to showcase courage and a fighting spirit. When combined with other patterns, the meanings can change.

10. Spearhead Polynesian Tattoos

Spearhead Polynesian Tattoos

Spearhead tattoo is a symbol of courage and fighting spirit. You can find these tattoos in several Samoan tattoo designs. One line spearhead with a line of enata drawn upside down is an expression that the wearer can defeat any enemy. An artist will be best able to give you an exact symbol that you want to express.

11. Spearhead and Shark Teeth Polynesian Tattoos

Spearhead and Shark Teeth Polynesian Tattoos

Spearhead is a classic symbol used to represent the warrior nature of the wearer. Spearhead is a very symbolic pattern in relation to sharp items too and used to represent the sting of some animals. Shark teeth also known as “niho mano” are also a popular symbol. The shark is believed to be the god of the Polynesians; as such it represents shelter, power and guiding force.

12. Spearhead and Ocean Polynesian Tattoos

Spearhead and Ocean Polynesian Tattoos

Ocean tattoos are another common Polynesian tattoo design. Polynesians believe that the ocean is their final destination when they die. Thus, the Ocean symbol could mean death or life after death. It is also believed to be a source of food and represents life, fertility and persistence. Spearhead means courage and ability to fight, so when these two symbols are combined in a tattoo it may have many different meanings.

13. Small Delicate Polynesian Ocean Tattoo

Small Delicate Polynesian Ocean Tattoo

Polynesian tribal believe that ocean is their final destination and it is this place where they will die. It symbolizes a world beyond death also. Water is their main source of nutrition it is a symbol of fertility too.

14. Fish Tattoo Design with Meaning

The fish tattoo is a popular polynesian tattoo design that symbolizes good luck and prosperity. Fish are also associated with new beginnings, making this an ideal tattoo for someone who is starting a new chapter in their life.

This tattoo design can be customized to include different elements, such as waves or coral. Adding these additional elements can help to further personalize the meaning of your tattoo.

15. Maori Lizard Tattoo

Lizards are a popular choice for polynesian tattoos because they represent fertility and new life. This makes them an ideal choice for people who are looking to start a family or who are expecting a child.

Maori lizard tattoos are usually done in black ink and feature a stylized lizard design. If you’re considering a Polynesian tattoo, be sure to do your research and find a reputable artist who can create a beautiful and meaningful design.

16. Stingray Tattoo

Traditionally, stingrays were a symbol of strength and power, as Polynesians believed that they could travel between this world and the spirit world. In Polynesian culture, stingrays are also associated with fertility and new life.

As a result, stingray tattoos often serve as a reminder to Polynesians of their connection to the natural world and their place in the cycle of life.

17. Hawaiian Shark Tattoo

Hawaiian Shark Tattoo
source : habitattattoo

The Hawaiian shark tattoo is a popular design in the realm of Polynesian tattoos. Polynesian tattoos have a rich history and are deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the Pacific islands. The shark symbolizes power, strength, and protection in Hawaiian culture. It is seen as a guardian spirit and a symbol of the ocean, which holds great importance to the people of Hawaii. The design of the Hawaiian shark tattoo is intricate and often incorporates other elements such as waves, fish, or tribal patterns. This tattoo is not only visually striking but also carries deep cultural significance for those who choose to adorn their bodies with it.


What is the difference between polynesian and hawaiian tattoos?

Polynesian tattoos are those that originate from the polynesian culture, while hawaiian tattoos are those that originate from the hawaiian culture. Both types of tattoos can be extremely beautiful and have a rich history and meaning.

Can polynesian tattoos be removed?

Yes, polynesian tattoos can be removed, but it is a difficult and lengthy process. If you’re considering removing your tattoo, it’s important to consult with a dermatologist or tattoo removal specialist to discuss the best options for you.

What are the risks of getting a polynesian tattoo?

There are a few risks associated with getting any type of tattoo, such as infection and allergic reactions. However, polynesian tattoos are generally considered to be safe. Make sure to consult with a licensed tattoo artist to reduce your risk of complications.

Polynesian tattoos are a popular choice for their beauty, meaning, and cultural significance. If you’re considering getting a polynesian tattoo, it’s important to do your research to choose a design that is right for you. With proper care, polynesian tattoos can last a lifetime.

Conclusion: Embracing the beauty and symbolism of Polynesian tattoos

Polynesian tattoos are a mesmerizing art form that carries deep cultural significance. Each design tells a story, reflecting the wearer’s personal journey, ancestry, and connection to the natural world. By understanding the history, symbolism, and etiquette surrounding Polynesian tattoos, we can appreciate their beauty in a respectful and meaningful way.

When considering a Polynesian tattoo, take the time to research and find the right artist who specializes in this unique style. Engage in open and respectful conversations, discussing the design, symbolism, and cultural significance behind the tattoo. By doing so, you can ensure that your Polynesian tattoo is a true representation of your vision and respect for the Polynesian culture.

Let us embrace the beauty and symbolism of Polynesian tattoos, honoring the traditions and ancestral connections that have shaped the Polynesian people for centuries.


  1. Polynesian origin and expansion – wiki
  2. Polynesian images and motifs – Zealandtattoo

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