A business couple celebrated a family milestone yesterday evening.
Together, Molio’o Matafeo Fonoti Leo’o Pio and his wife, Mulipola Anarosa, completed the painful journey of getting their traditional tattoos. Molio’o completed his malofie while Mulipola finished her malu.
It was a great occasion for the family. Their children already have theirs and the parents complete the circle.
“It’s painful but it’s a rewarding experience when its completed,” Mulipola Anarosa said.
“The men’s tatau or the women’s malu is a very important part of the Samoan culture and it’s a test whether you can endure the pain of the sharp needle and the au. I’m glad we’ve completed ours.”
Mulipola said she is proud to wear a tattoo with a meaning.
“These patterns tell us a story about our Samoan families,” she said.
“The design of Samoan birds, wooden headrest used by old men in the island used as pillows, is our connection to the environment."
“Each design and pattern has its own meaning connected to the Samoan way of life. It’s what makes this unique.”
Mulipola added that the “traditional wear” comes with responsibility.
“It comes with a role as a matai in the family, village and the tausi and faletua in family and village,” she said.
“Having a good knowledge, about the uniqueness of Samoan culture and what it represents - is very important."
“For us, we have to wear it with pride not as a fashion item but wear it with dignity.”
Mulipola and Molio’o Teofilo are from Faleapuna. They have five children and four of them also received their traditional tattoos.
Both Molio’o and Mulipola made sure their children understand the meaning of wearing them.
“My children approached us to get tattoos when they were still in school,” Mulipola said. “And to us, we know that our culture is one vital aspect of our identity as Samoans, so we agreed to it.”
For Mulipola’s children, their tattoos is a rite of passage and it is part of who they are.
“We are always involved with cultural practices within our village of Faleapuna because of our titles are at Faleapuna and so we always take our children with us,” she said.
“The boys are usually the ones doing most of the duties of a Samoan young man (taule’ale’a) within the village and they thought that it would be better to have traditional tattoos so it can complete their attires."
“And it’s the same for my daughter as well.”
Mulipola explains that you can’t just get a traditional tattoo; you have to be prepared mentally and physically.
“To me, if you want to get the traditional Samoan tattoo, one has to be well-prepared,” she said. “One must know about the culture and all the responsibilities they should do and they must know how to carry it well.”