Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Samoan Tradition

This past weekend was pretty crazy. Friday night was the welcoming fiafia for the newest group of trainees. However members of group 1 and 2 were here for a renunion and the fortieth anaversery of Peace Corps Samoa. The night opened with an Ava ceremony thatI got to be a part of though my role was to just sit next to the ava bowl, Dylan and Vik did the serving. But it was great to learn a little bit more about what all the roles are and how it is organized first hand. This was followed by the usual introduction and rounds of dancing by the volunteers. However there was a little change this year. The new head of state was in attendance and I ended up starring straight into his eyes for the war dance. The night went well but long with all the added events that are usually not part of the fiafia. And the next day I had to be up early…

To get a traditional Samoan Tattoo. Julya and I went visit Suluape the best at his craft. Samoa has the longest unbroken tradition of tattooing in the world it is the one place missionaries were unable to break it and Suluape continues that tradition today using the same types of tools, most of his needle combs are steel instead of the traditional bone. I chose to get the top half of the pe’a on a smaller scale on my calf. The pe’a is the male body tattoo that extends from knees to mid chest. The portion I got represents from the waist up. He started on the back and worked his way around. The whole process took about four hours including a short break. It went pretty quickly and I got to watch the final of the rugby world cup which helped time move along. (Rugby is a huge sport in Samoa and I have started to enjoy it some myself but find 7’s more exciting and Samoa is much better at it.) The process is kind of where you just give an idea, location and size, example a band, on the ankle three fingers wide, and then turn your self over to let him do his work and see what happens. The tattoo turned out very well and I think even the guys who work for Suluape were surprised at the amount of detail he put into it. Getting the tattoo pretty much wiped me out and I ended up going to bed early and just laying around most of Sunday as well.

Walking around since getting it reminds me of when I first got here. You can see peoples eyes following it and many people have stopped me to comment on it. Everyone seems to think it’s great, Samoa is different from the US in this respect it is almost more common to have a tattoo than to not have one, but most importantly I am really happy with it and that’s all that really matters.

Ava ceremony

Suluape getting started and the guys who strech and hold your skin.

The needle combs used for traditional tatooing.
Laying out the back.
The inside of my calf.
Front and side
The Back


Blogger Emily said...

Looks good Timmy!! All of the kids at school have spent a lot of time staring at it and trying to figure it out! Miss ya, much love Em

9:30 AM  
Blogger Village Boy said...

Nice ink work...Suluape is the MAN. Thanks for the great work you're doing home...

8:00 PM  
Blogger Bjorn said...

Someone's jealous...

That's awesome Tim. I know it wouldn't be hard to convince me to get one if I were to visit... (...another reason I'm disappointed that we can't.) :(

Hope it's healing well. Thanks for the update.


3:58 PM  

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