Perceptions on the Commercialisation of the Malu: A Case of Samoa


The art of Samoan tattooing or Tatau has been widely researched by scholars. Most scholarly, medical and artistic studies examine Samoan tattooing with greater interest on the male tattoo (pe’a) while the female tattoo (malu) is insignificantly explored. Traditionally, the malu was reserved for the taupou, (the daughters of high chiefs). Today, no such reservation seems to be in place and pretty much any woman or girl, Samoan, part Samoan or non Samoan may receive a malu provided they can afford the costs and tolerate the pain. Perceptions on the commercialisation of the malu are deeply debated and vigorously contested on social media and online discussion forums. Perceptions on the commercialisation of the malu from Samoans and non Samoans residing in Samoa are nonexistent in academia. This research paper presents the results of a small scale study that investigated the perceptions of Samoans, part Samoan and non Samoans living in Samoa on the commercialisation of the malu. The paper intends to highlight similarities and differences in perceptions amongst participants living in Samoa and bloggers residing outside of Samoa. The paper presents a number of interesting themes drawn from the study on the commercialisation of the malu.

Keywords: Commercialization, Malu, Online Discussion Forums, Perceptions, Samoan Tattooing, Social media, Tatau

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 20-31 (Download PDF)

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