Tahitians today have inherited a rich, expressive culture from their ma’ohi ancestors. From the ma’ohi, came the pulse of Tahitian life, a world where the lives of gods, warriors and men crossed in colourful legends.
THE ORIGINS OF TATTOOS
The word tatau originated in The Islands of Tahiti, and the symbols have meaning and the meaning tells the story of each Tahitian’s personal history. In each line drawn on the body, the ma’ohi of the past is connected to the Mana of the present and future.
In pre-European Polynesian society, tattooing constituted a valuable social marker. It could indicate one’s exact place in a territory, tribe and family and one’s level on the social scale. It could also mark the accomplishment of important social rituals such as the passage from childhood to puberty or marriage. It also could represent remarkable events in the life of the person concerned: acts of bravery in war or prowess as a hunter or fisherman.
MUSIC AND DANCE TAKE CENTRE STAGE
When the missionaries came to Tahiti, they tried to suppress the powerful, lifeaffirming and sensual sounds and movements that embody the music and dance of Tahiti. In the dance and rhythms, Tahitians give voice to their Mana, allowing it to rise from the sea, descend from the hills, and emanate from the soul of every man and woman who falls under its mesmerising spell. Today’s Tahitian dance and music celebrates the resilience of Polynesian culture to overcome and maintain their sacred expressions of life. In ancient times, dances were linked with all aspects of life. One would dance to welcome a visitor, to pray, to challenge an enemy or to seduce a mate.
A PLETHORA OF CRAFTS
The art of plaiting is found in various forms such as hats, bags baskets, mats etc. The women from the Austral Islands are noted as experts of this discipline that uses vegetal fibers from the screw pine, the coconut or the reed or a’eho.
The taste for observing and loving nature is revived in the sumptuous tifaifai or bed covers with hand-sewn vegetal or ethnic motifs. The enthusiasm of the women for this typical element of the decoration of fare or Polynesian homes has given rise to the organisation of an annual show of tifaifai.
Artistic expression also finds an outlet in woodwork, the prerogative of the men. They sculpt, according to their inspiration, and according to ancestral, diagrammatic or symbolic patterns in precious wood.
- The famous Tiare Tahiti flower is used in a garland to welcome travellers and returning family.
- Many tours to visit the architecture in districts made with migrations of people
- Discover the nature and go off-road with guides to see a number of cultural sites
FRENCH POLYNESIA CULTURE, BY NUMBERS
- 16 days of pure traditional dancing & singing performance (heiva)
- 192km The Hawaiki Nui canoe competition
- 10+ The Hawaiki Nui canoe competition Films in competitions (FIFO)