THE TATAU SONG

This is a lose English translation of the Tatau song as chanted by the twin sisters Taema and Tilafaiga depicted in the popular legend.

This is the known origin
Of the tattooing of the tatau in Samoa
A journey by two maidens
Who swam from Fiji across the open sea
They brought the tattooing kit
And recited their unchanging chant
That said women were to be tattooed
But men were not to be tattooed
Thus the reason why men are now tattooed
Is because of the confusion of the maidens’ chant
Arriving at the coast of Falealupo
They spotted a giant clam
As the maidens dived
Their chant was reversed
To say that men were to be tattooed
And not women
Pity the youth now lying
While the tufuga starts
Alas he is crying loudly
As the tattooing tool cuts all over
Young fellow, young fellow, be brave
This is the sport of male heirs
Despite the enormous pain
Afterwards you will swell with pride
Of all the countries in the Pacific
Samoa is the most famous
The sogaimiti walking towards you
With his fa’aila glistening
Curved lines, motifs like ali
Like centipedes, combs like wild bananas
Like sigano and spearheads
The greatest in the whole world

It is also the song sung while an individual is being tattooed. Here is the Samoan translation of the song.

O le vi’i o le tatau Samoa

O le mafuaaga lenei ua iloa
O le taaga o le tatau i Samoa
O le malaga a teine to’alua
Na feausi mai Fiti le vasa loloa
Na la aumai ai o le atoau
ma sia la pese e tutumau
Fai mai e tata o fafine
Ae le tata o tane
A o le ala ua tata ai tane
Ina ua sese sia la pese
Taunuu i gatai o Falealupo
Ua vaaia loa o se faisua ua tele
Totofu loa lava o fafine
Ma ua sui ai sia la pese
Fai mai e tata o tane
Ae le tata o fafine
Talofa i si tama ua taatia
O le tufuga lea ua amatalia
Talofa ua tagi aueue
Ua oti’otisolo le au tapulutele
Sole Sole, ai loto tele
O le taaloga a tama tane
E ui lava ina tiga tele
Ae mulimuli ana ua a fefete
O atu motu uma o le Pasefika
Ua sili Samoa le ta’taua
O le soga’imiti ua savalivali mai
Ua fepulafi mai ana faaila
Aso faaifo, faamulialiao
Faaatualoa, selu faalaufao
O le sigano faapea faaulutao
Ua ova i le vasalaolao

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: