The literacy of the tatau
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Citation:Tominiko, F. (2014, September). The Literacy of the Tatau. Paper presented at National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Wānanga/Fono 2014 : Navigating the Literacy and Numeracy Oceans in Aotearoa: Understanding the Currents and Tides, Auckland, New Zealand.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3714
Firstly, what is the Samoan Tatau? The Samoan tatau is the ancient practice of body marking or tattooing using the ‘au or traditional tools. The tatau is a body adornment given only to men and it covers roughly 60% of the body, starting from around the mid back area, down to just below the knees. It is a tradition that has been practiced by Samoans for many centuries. Although it has been often referred to as an ‘art form’, it is actually a living being. It is living in the sense that the canvas on which the tatau is printed is living, it breathes, it moves, it feeds and more importantly, it speaks. It is often assumed that the tatau is simply a form of body adornment that other than its aesthetical value, serves no other purpose. In this paper, I endeavour to illustrate that literacy is largely connected to the tatau. I will explore this notion of the tatau being able to speak to people, and look at it from a number of generational perspectives.