Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pe'a, Samoan for Tattoo

I entered the tattoo shop not knowing what to expect. Throughout my life I have always been a little grossed out when seeing someone in that kind of pain, even if they don’t feel the pain, I feel it for them. For example, when I got my ears pierced (when I was 16) I almost collapsed to the ground, and had trouble seeing straight for the next few days. When I was in my first year at school in Wyoming, I went with my neighbor Liz to get her tongue pierced. I almost threw up several times while she was getting it done. But I had never witnessed a traditional tattoo being put on someone, so I did not know what I was in for.
I flipped through the magazines and saw that the tattoo artists work was featured in an Australian magazine, and then looked at the trophies on the wall from all of the international competitions, and realized this would be a lot different than a normal tattoo shop in America. I then went through the photo albums and saw a lot of amazing designs, and tried to picture which one I could see on me. After a few minutes of viewing, it was time to begin.
There were four people to help perform the art of tattooing. First, the artist drew on the arm with marker to give a little idea as to how big the tattoo would be. Then, ink was put on one of the tapping devices, and spread on the arm. A stick was then put in his hand to tap down on the tapping tool. This opened the skin up for the ink to go inside. It was amazing how fast he could work, and how neat of a job he did. (Staying in the lines at all times, he would make any kindergarten teacher proud.) It was amazing to see him create such amazing designs based upon a few little lines. The tapping continued for several hours with one man fanning everyone, two others stretching the skin, and the final one doing the tapping. At the end of several hours the work was not done, but there was an amazing design around the arm. To thank them for their work, we then feasted on a giant meal, while I, not sure about everyone else, kept looking at the arm amazed with the work that can be done with such basic tools.
Being in the tattoo shop was intoxicating, as it was such an amazing thing to experience, but to your approval mom, it wasn’t me getting the tattoo. Someone else has an amazing souvenir of their Samoan experience, and believe me, it is an amazing souvenir to take home and show off.

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