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Traditional Hawaiian Tattooing: Unpublished Works

Selected annotated bibliography on traditional Hawaiian tattooing.

Research Papers & Theses

Coryell, Jill. "Kukui." University of Hawaiʻi, 1986.
UHM Call Number:
SD397 .C337 C67 1986
71 pages. This undergraduate paper received the Library Prize for Pacific Research. It gives comprehensive information on the kukui tree and its varied uses, with a short section (p. 30-31) dedicated to use of kukui as the main ingredient in traditional Hawaiian tattooing.

Faust, David W. [pseudonym: "Kwika."] "The Art of Tattooing in Polynesia." University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, Art #287.
UHM Call Number: Pac f GN419.3 F38
95 pages. This student paper apears fairly early in the research of Polynesian tattoo. It is not dated, but was completed prior to the masters thesis by Sparks listed below. Pages 68-83 are dedicated to the art of tattoo in Hawai
ʻi, mostly reciting the research of Kenneth Emory and quotes from early voyagers.

Gurnani-Smith, N. Ruth. "Ka ʻaʻahu, nā mea hoʻohiehie a me ka hoʻohehelo o ka poʻe kahiko = Fashion and Personal Beauty in Old Hawaiʻi." University of Hawaiʻi, 1991.
UHM Call Number: DU624.65 .G87 1991
81 pages. There is a dedicated section to tattoos (p. 38-42), which mainly draws on accounts from the early voyagers.

Johnson, Ruby Kawena. "Hawaiian Language and the Geometry of Arts and Crafts." Presented for the Hawaiian culture lecture series, fall 1986 and spring 1987, a program of the Continuing Education Program, Extension Education Division, The Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate. Honolulu, 1986.
UHM Call Number:
NK1410.H3 J64 1986
30 pages. Compilation of forms in Hawaiian art and design collected from earlier studies into the aesthetics of tapa, tattooing (Emory, 1946), petroglyphs, and sculpture. Illustrations from Rubellite K. Johnson and Jerome Feldman's "Understanding Hawaiian Art Through Language
" provide interpretation of a variety of designs and patterns.

Kaholi, Richard M. "Tattooing in the Hawaiian Islands." Hawaiiana 155, University of Hawaiʻi, 1976
UHM Call Number:
DU624.65 .K336 1976a
16 pages. Includes a brief overview of tattooing in the Pacific. Discusses how tattoos were applied and the equipment used. Table of terms used in various Pacific Island languages for: comb, tapper, ink, tattooing and tattooer is a useful guide.

Kanoho, Charles L. "Ke Kauwa: the Slave Caste of Ancient Hawaiʻi." Anthropology 386, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, 1977.
UHH Call Number: GN1 .H3 no.77-1
34 pages. Mention tattoo on kauwa or slaves (p. 11 & 20). Page 11 cites Malo's Hawaiian Antiquities and the writer explains that kauwa were freed and ceased to be tattooed by 1819 following the abolishment of the kapu system. Although the information relating to tattoo on kauwa comes from Malo, the text is useful to further explore the Hawaiian slave caste which is largely forgotten.

Kohatsu, Tennye. "Hawaiian Tatoos." LS 693v, University of Hawaiʻi, 1986.
UHM Call Number: GN419.3 .K64 1986
11 pages. This bibliography on Hawaiian tattooing was found by searching subjects; unfortunately the spelling "tatoo" was carried throughout the document including the titles listed. It contains a bibliography, much of which continues to be useful and has been incorporated here; plus a search strategy which is essentially obsolete.

Losch, Kealalōkahi C. Hoʻōla Hou Ka Moko A Me Ka Uhi: The Revival of Cultural Tattooing in Aotearoa and Hawaiʻi." Master of Arts in Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaiʻi, 1999.
UHM Call Number: CB5 .H3 no.2785
92 pages. This study notes interviews with eight artists including four working in Hawai`i at the time of publication: Tricia Allen, Mike Malone, Ipo Nihipali, and Keone Nunes. Chapters include a background, traditional trails, and contemporary paths. There is an appendix on tattoo terminology and a glossary of terms.

McLaughlin, John. "Hawaiian Tattoo Motifs." University of Hawaiʻi, 1973.
UHM Call Number: GN419.3 .M33
47 pages. Provides an introduction to the various European artists on the early Pacific voyaging expeditions. Serves as a compilation of quotations from the first-hand accounts of voyagers to Hawaiʻi. Contains a list of prints in the Bishop Museum Archives arranged by negative number.

Sparks, Robert William. "Polynesian Tattooing: the Techniques, Iconography, Patronage, Profession, and Esthetics." Master of Arts in Pacific Island Studies, University of Hawaiʻi, 1965.
UHM Call Number: CB5 H3 no. 612
137 pages. This lengthy study covers equipment and technique, iconography, patronage, profession and esthetics. Limited focus on tattooing in the Hawaiian Islands (p. 75-78). It is good for comparative purposes to the other tattoo practices in the Pacific Islands.