135 Sacred Samoan Tattoos And Their Meanings

The Rock has an amazing Samoan tattoo and it’s the perfect example of what you can achieve with this style. You are going to love these tattoos because they are mysterious and they look really cool. They are the kinds of tattoos that turn heads. The Samoan tattoo is a traditional tattoo design called the “tatau.” The tattoos are culturally depictions of Samoa. Getting these tattoos are considered to be a source of culture and heritage and the act of getting a tattoo for a young Samoan man is a very big deal. It’s considered to be an honor. These tattoos are often done in twos so the young man has to find a relative that is also worthy of the tattoo and they will get the tattoo done at the same time. In America, these tattoos are known as tribal tattoos and they are just as popular here as they are there. These tattoos are very popular with people over the years and they seem to be getting more popular. You won’t see many of the authentic Samoan tattoos around because they are only for the worthy so not everyone is allowed to get one.

We have a few amazing styles that you can take a look at and find something that you will love forever. These are eye-catching styles that are sure to make you popular wherever you go. Check out these amazing Samoan tattoo designs that you are sure to cherish always.

Sleeve Designs

You can get really creative with a sleeve design because you have a large area to work with. But not only that, you can get these designs that twist and turn around the arm as well. 

Circular Designs

Another cool design for a sleeve and this one is unique because the shoulder and the elbow are left open. It gives a cool and unique perspective to the sleeve design. 

Half Sleeve Designs

This style is a little more basic if you aren’t looking for something that is over the top. 

Cool and Bold

Samoan designs are great for sleeve designs because they are repetitive and they need a lot of room. 

Mysterious Images

Some of these designs almost look like puzzle pieces which makes them all the more mysterious. These styles are gorgeous and they are sure to turn heads wherever you go. 

Bold and Beautiful

These stunning images are going to make you the talk of the party. 

A Guide to Getting A Samoan Tattoo

What Is The Tattoo And How You Can Get One

These tattoos are ones that have a deep meaning in the Samoa culture and that’s why it’s such an honor to get one. It’s not about getting a sexy tattoo design or just like the way that a tattoo looks like. It’s about honoring the culture and being worthy of wearing the tattoo. These tattoos are traditionally done with long needles and not tattoo guns. So, they are very painful and they can even be painful while using the tattoo guns because there is so much detail involved in getting the tattoo as well as how long it takes to get the tattoo done. If you happen to be a thin person who doesn’t have a lot of cushion below the skin, you could find yourself really in a pickle and it’s just naturally more painful. This is something to consider before you get one of these tattoo designs.

What Is A Samoan Tattoo?

These tattoos aren’t usually done with a tattoo gun or a machine, they are typically done with a tattoo comb. In American of course, it’s not done that way, they always use the tattoo gun. The guns use a needle that punctures the skin in order to insert the ink. But that isn’t how it’s done in Samoa. Samoan tattoos are done with a tattoo comb that is put on the end of the stick. That stick is then dipped into the ink. The comb gets placed against the skin of the person and this is where the fun starts. The worthy man that gets the tattoo has the artist hitting the stick with a mallet to literally force the ink into the skin. You can imagine why it would be so much more painful than using the tattoo gun. The mallet is hit repeatedly until the tattoo is finished. Normally you would hear the buzzing of the tattoo gun but with the tattoo comb and mallet, all you hear is the tapping on the wood.

The Symbolism of the Samoan Tattoo

The images that you see in Samoan tattoos are similar to the images that they use in their artwork. These cultural symbols are seen all over the place in American culture. You might have even seen some of these design son American t-shirts that are based on Samoa. The styles are often curved or spiked which gives them that distinctive look that we all know so well. The Tap Put brand that puts out a ton of t-shirts typically has some of these styles on their t-shirts. Professional wrestlers are often wearing Samoa designs on their shirts, especially tribal ones. We have also seen these types of tribal symbols in fabric patterns and even wallpaper.

What Does It All Mean?

You might be wondering what these images even mean and it’s okay to have that question. They don’t all mean the same thing in fact; they all have different meanings. There are a lot of different types of tribal symbols that you will find in these tattoo designs. The symbols are lizards, fish, spearheads, the sun and the ocean. When it comes to the Samoan tattoo you will often see turtle shells in them. Each symbol in the tattoo can have four or five meanings and that what makes them so cool and honorable. The turtle shells have a special meaning and that includes longevity, fertility, peace or wellness. There is a chance that you might have the same symbols as someone else with a tribal tattoo but it would have a completely different meaning. That’s the cool thing about these tattoos because they ensure that your tattoo is one of a kind.

Can You Get the Tattoo Just Cause?

A lot of people just love the look of the tattoo and they aren’t necessarily worried about what it means or whether or not they are worthy of getting a Samoan tattoo. You can certainly create a tattoo that has symbolic meaning to it but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You don’t have to get a special meaning behind it but just make sure you have a good story to tell if someone asks. If you don’t you are sure to run into someone who wants to hear about the meaning behind it and you won’t have anything to give them. You will feel silly if you have this incredible design and someone approached you to ask about it and you have no story. Lots of people rip off tattoo ideas but that ends up being a lame story and you don’t want to have to say you have a cool tattoo but you don’t know what it means. It’s okay to want a cool design, just make it means something for you. If you tell the wrong person that your tattoo is meaningless, you will end up feeling pretty stupid because you might get asked why you got the tattoo at all. The reason for this is that these tattoos are made for history, culture and meaning so people usually want to hear the story behind it. They are the kinds of tattoos that deserve more than a little respect.

How To Get An Authentic Samoan Tattoo?

You might be thinking that you want to get an authentic Samoan tattoo but it’s not easy to do so. It might be simpler to get the tattoo at a tattoo shop with a gun. To get the authentic tattoo you have to be part of the Samoa community, you can’t just show up and ask for a tattoo. You have to be accepted and the community has to see you as worthy of the tattoo. As far as the community goes, you need to be accepted as one of them and that’s not something that happens overnight. You have to do things that make you accepted within the community like acts of kindness. Think about the things that you do for your neighbors like mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc. You have to show them how you want to be part of their community and it can’t be fake. You have to be committed to them and their way of life and prove to the community that you are trustworthy. But first, you have to be the kind of person that is trustworthy and committed. Gaining acceptance within the Samoan community is the only way to get an authentic Samoa tattoo. This isn’t something that is going to happen within a week or a month’s time. It can take years to be accepted within the Samoan community so don’t do it just for the sake of a tattoo, do it because you want to be part of their way of life. Once you are accepted into their community, you will be able to get the tattoo easily.

There Is An Easier Way To Get The Tattoo

Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to become part of a Samoan community but you still want the tattoo. There are actually tattoo shops in Florida and Hawaii that know how to do the traditional art of an authentic Samoan tattoo. These places do the tattoos without having to put yourself into the trenches of a community and a culture. You can get the tattoo without all the hard work. You won’t have to spend years living in another region to get the tattoo that you want. These artists will use the same methods and symbolism to get you the authentic tattoo that you want. You can certainly get a passable tattoo design from your local tattoo shop, it’s just whether or not you want an authentic tattoo. Any tattoo artist can replicate these symbols so if you want the design you can just go to an artist that you know.


These are tattoo designs that are one of a kind and that’s why they are so popular. They are styles that are bold, creative and meaningful. You can choose to get an authentic tattoo either through visiting Hawaii shops or going into the Samoan culture to get one. You can also hit up the local shop and just have the designs replicated. Whatever you decide to do try to have your tattoo have meaning behind it. You won’t regret it if you do. People are bound to ask about the tattoo and there should be some significance to such a special tattoo design. 

Aftercare For Your Samoan Tattoo

If you got the traditional Samoan tattoo with the tattoo comb then you will need to take extra care of your tattoo. It will require you to massage the tattoo three times a day. It might not be the most comfortable thing to do but it will work out the impurities, infection or any pus that is collecting under the skin. You will also want to wash the tattoo daily and it’s recommended that you do it with saltwater. The reason for this is to reduce the swelling and the pain that you might experience after.

Stay out of the sun when it comes to a fresh tattoo and keep it cool, this will help to reduce the chance of it getting infected. You don’t want to soak the tattoo in a bath, pool or anything like that. It’s best to have showers until your tattoo is healed.

Too much water will make the tattoo heal slower. You have to remember that a tattoo is basically an open wound so you have to treat it as such so that it can heal properly.

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