This year we’ve opened the year with now 4 of us women in our close family circle with Malu lima (female sacred Samoan hand tattoo) as I accompanied and supported them to Tautua Ink, Avondale (check our their Facebook page) with now two generations.
As I wrote in an blog post late last year, I wasn’t an easy decision for me to make but it was a one that I spent time considering in being a born again Christian for many years and in never being inked in my life until my birthday last year.
However, in teaching and reclaiming my own indigeneity as a Samoan woman, albeit NZ born, it became an important consideration as I wrote about ancient Samoan stories and shared them all over the world in print form, blogs, websites, talks etc. the consideration of having a male lima became an evident part of my journey.
I wouldn’t say that it is every Samoan women’s journey because it is very much frowned upon in the Samoan Christian community with in it being seen as a legacy of an ancient time that was pre-Christian but again for me it was about reclaiming and redefining it.
So that on my malu lima, the tufuga (expert) artist placed the depiction of the cross on the top of my hand piece and in trusting that his expertise and the process, I believe that it honours God in my not having told the tufuga about my Christian convictions and in his understanding, he placed it there.
I also had the consideration of having it either in NZ or Samoa, but with the timing and how the events lined up for my birthday last year, it was effortless as my sister and I shared the journey together and I think now the four of us are joined as women in our family reclaiming, reimaging and reconsidering what it means to be SamoaNZ.
One of the important priorities that I’ve placed upon myself is that I won’t post pics of it on social media due to it’s tapu nature which academics are still debating about whether the malu was hidden as a result of Christianity or pre-Christian. For me it’s due to the tapu (taboo) nature of it and that I choose not to share in being of esoteric and a connection to my past female ancestry.
So that in my direct line, there are now two of us as holders of the malu lima in having had no female members of my family, in living memory, holding these sacred markings due to the prejudice at the the time and also negative notions of the stigma attached to such markings.
As with many things in my life, I am thankful to our God above for the honour and privilege of these sacred markings that uphold the gift of bringing new life to the world and sanctity of the blessing of being a woman. I wear it with pride but also with humility that one should not show it off as it doesn’t belong to me individually but that I wear it collectively as a Samoan woman reclaiming what was once lost…