Traditional Samoan Tatau experience

This story about a visit with traditional tattoo artist Wilson Fitigo in American Samoa in 2002 was just so funny that I had to share it with you. The full size photos will be in the hand poked tattoo gallery in the update that I’ll have posted late tonight (argh, another late night).

“This wan’t the regular studio we’re used to in the Western World — this was the real thing. I don’t think a normal person would have accepted the conditions. There was a kid running around, the tools where whashed with an old toothbrush and soap, the ink was in an old clamshell, some puppies where sick, and there I was lying outside on the ground. Wilson Fitigo, the tattoo artist, had just cut himself with a bushknife and had a homemade bandage on…

I was shaking with fear… and had three nice boys around me holding me down. There was no pain as this pain… Nothing will hurt again… I spent six and a half hours on my back, triyng hard not to scream like a pig, but sometimes I almost fell asleep. Halfway through I threw up my lunch, and had never been so happy in my whole life.

And for the last hour, my mother had to hold me down, translating my Swedish cursing the whole time to Wilson! The tattooing was like someone punching you over and over again with a hammer, and I think the sound was the worst part.

Oh, and like any other tattoo, this one had to be washed in rainwater from the roof — but the massage was out of this world! But now… my precious!!! Six and a half hours later, and of course I’ll do it again!

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Traditional Samoan Tatau experience

  1. The following comments were imported from our old comment system:

    Posted on 04-18-2006 11:41:37 by Marie
    This is my favourite post in ages. Very interesting, thanks for sharing it.

    Posted on 04-18-2006 15:21:33 by LeeBee
    awesome post! i love reading about tattooing practices from places other than North America :)

    Posted on 04-18-2006 17:41:30 by eveldave
    I had some of a pe’a done that same year in Western Samoa. The bone combes they use aren’t all that sharp and they have to give them a good whack to puncture the skin.

    Then at 3pm all the schoolkids turned up to laugh at my skinny white arse!

    Posted on 04-19-2006 11:57:14 by Lostsally000
    That has to hurt sooooo bad, but guess that in the end the result is worth it…..

    Posted on 04-19-2006 20:57:41 by Zolish
    Never thought it would be so appreciated as this :)

    Posted on 04-20-2006 03:01:32 by k

    Posted on 04-20-2006 07:17:19 by Hellbo Rock City
    Haha. Sån hype! Kul att nån annan postat det åt dig Zola!

  2. I remember Wilson we were actually neighbors back then until he and his family moved out. He’s a really talented Samoan tattoo artist. I didn’t think I would actually find him here. Come to think of the date I do remember seeing some foreigners passing.

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