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Tisa’s Tattoo Fest starts with the tatau

2023 Tisa's Tattoo Festival

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The18th Annual Tisa's Tattoo Festival at Alega officially started yesterday Tuesday, October 24, 2023. It will run through to Saturday, Oct. 28.

And, Tufuga or Master Tattooist Su'a Alaivaa Tikeli Loli is ahead of schedule.

He had two young men in his “apisa” on Monday where the pair received the beginning design components of the tatau — the va’a, pula tama and pula tele. They are usually outlined and filled in on the first day of tattooing, after the height to which the tattoo will rise is decided — Ano le Tua.

Jacob McBride 29, of Perth Australia and Nuuuli, American Samoa, wearing a blue printed cover lavalava, will be the first of his siblings to wear the traditional tatau, and is seen here during his tattooing session, with the beginning design components.

Faasegi Mua 26, of Leone, and in Samoa — Levi Saleimoa, Maagiagi and Samauga — wearing an orange cover up lavalava will be the second person in his family to wear a traditional Samoan tattoo — his mother wears the traditional Samoan female tattoo — “malu”.

Mua is a son of Reverend Fetuao. He said his father has always dreamt of wearing a tatau, but due to his calling his father cannot become a sogaimiti.

His son however has dedicated his tatau to his father he said. Although "my father cannot wear the tatau, I'm fortunate to wear it for him."

The new sogaimiti, Mua, is taking two weeks off from work. He is a Case Manager for the Department of Health.

Su'a, 33 , is the youngest tufuga in Samoa. He had his tattoo at age 24 and from then on he started practicing it as a career.

Su'a said his father was taught by the Tufuga Su'a Suluape Alaivaa and that’s the reason he, Alaivaa, is named after his father's best friend and Tufuga Su'a Suluape.

It's happening at Tisa's Barefoot Bar at Alega — It’s all about protecting the pe'a, our resources, culture, land and life.