Stories behind the book — 'Tatau: A History of Samoan Tattooing'
The Public History Talks are hosted by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage History Group at the National Library of New Zealand. They are usually held on the first Wednesday of the month from March to November.
- Date: Wednesday, 5 June, 2019
12:10pm to 1:00pm
Free. You don't need to book.
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon
- Contact Details:
Hear Ockham winning author Sean Mallon talk about his book
In this talk, Sean discusses the book’s development and its key themes with reference to specific and some possibly surprising stories.
Tatau won the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award at the 2019 Ockham Awards.
3000 years of Samoan tatau
The Samoan Islands are virtually unique in that tattooing has been continuously practiced with indigenous techniques: the full male tattoo, the pe’a has evolved in subtle ways in its design since the nineteenth century, but remains as elaborate, meaningful, and powerful as it ever was. This cultural history is the first publication to examine 3000 years of Samoan tatau.
Through a chronology rich with people, encounters and events it describes how Samoan tattooing has been shaped by local and external forces of change over many centuries. It argues that Samoan tatau has a long history of relevance both within and beyond Samoa, and a more complicated history than is currently presented in the literature.
The book is richly illustrated with historical images of nineteenth and twentieth century Samoan tattooing, contemporary tattooing, diagrams of tattoo designs and motifs, and with supplementary photographs such as posters, ephemera, film stills and artefacts.
About the speaker
Sean Mallon, who is of Sāmoan (Mulivai, Safata) and Irish descent, is Senior Curator Pacific Cultures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
He is a co-author of both 'Tangata o le Moana: The story of New Zealand and the people of the Pacific' (Te Papa Press, 2012) and 'Art in Oceania: A new history' (2012), which was awarded the Authors’ Club’s Art Book Prize.
Sean has been a council member of The Polynesian Society since 2008.