Queen Kaahumanu was known to be tattooed on her legs, the palm of her left hand and her tongue.
Palm tattoos have been recovered on mummified remains.
Oral traditions tell of warriors defeated in battle who were taken prisoner, then beaten and tattooed.
Hawaiian tattoos were applied under strict religious rules.
It was an art attended by ritualistic ceremony, and often the designs chosen had kaona, or hidden meaning and power.
The word tattoo is one of only a few words used internationally that have a Polynesian origin coming from the word tatau used in Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. Interestingly, tattoo designs are thought to supply one more clue to the origin of the Polynesian peoples, as they bear close resemblance to the geometrical designs found on Lapita pottery.
The Lapita people originated in Melanesia and Southeast Asia about 3,000 B.
C., and early Lapita voyagers reached Tonga about 1,300 B.