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Whether on male or on female bodies, tattoos have never been so popular. This is why many tourists take the opportunity of their visit to Polynesia to keep up with the fashion. With these two stamps, artist Jean-Louis SAQUET, by drawing his inspiration from well-known patterns, gives an idea of what the many and various signs imprinted in the skin in the Marquesas islands could look like.

Nowadays, apart from some tingling and transient discomfort, the tattooist’s customer is getting off more lightly than his ancient counterpart, as the latter suffered agonies according to Max Radiguet (1842): “The torture utensils comprised a bird bone that was sawn so as to form teeth, like a comb, and was thrust into a reed. The patient was firmly held while the tattooist, kneeling down next to him, would use a little hammer to make the comb’s sharp teeth penetrate into the skin. From time to time he would dip the comb into a colouring material”.

What was vaguely seen as cabalistic signs by Westerners was, for Oceanians, a whole conception of life itself, which could not be translated with sole words. Today, it is obviously difficult to give an esoteric meaning to the new designs.

Title: Tatoos
Date of Issue: 6 April 2010
Country: Tahiti
Denominations: 250 F CFP x 2


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