The Marquesan people originally covered almost every inch of their body with tattoos. The penis and bottom of the feet being the only skin left without markings. They even tattooed the inside of the nostrils, eyelids and tongue.
Missionaries and the European settlers deemed this art of tattooing unlawful when they came to the Marquesan Islands. Not only did these foreigners bring disease, but they tried to wipe out the tattooing arts, spiritual beliefs, and other important traditions of the Marquesans.
Luckily, the Marquesans still carry on the tradition of tattooing to this day despite the repression of their culture and subsequent loss of many of their tattoo patterns.
A Marquesan tattoo represents one of the bolder styles of tribal tattooing. This boldness is due to the heaviness of black and full coverage of the body. The large black geometric patterns were taken from ancestral deity the tiki, nature, animals, ceremonial objects, and other tools used in every day life. However, the images are often abstracted beyond recognition.
Below you will find some examples of Marquesan tattoos by Dave Rodriguez…