Historically there was no writing in Polynesian culture so the Polynesian’s used tattoo art that was full of distinctive signs to express their identity and personality. Tattoos would indicate status in a hierarchical society as well as sexual maturity, genealogy and ones rank within the society. Nearly everyone in ancient Polynesian society was tattooed.
In Samoa, the tradition of applying the tattoo by hand has been unbroken for over 2000 years. Tools and techniques have hardly differed whatsoever. The skill is often passed from father to son, each artist learning the art after many years of serving as an apprentice.
The turtle or honu is an important creature throughout all Polynesian cultures and has been associated with several meanings. Turtles symbolise health, fertility, longevity in life, foundation, peace and rest.