Mālofie is the Sāmoan term used exclusively by chiefs for traditional tattoo. The common term used, pe'a, for traditional tattoo.
The tatau process for the Pe'a is extremely painful, and undertaken by tufuga ta tatau (master tattooists), using a set of handmade tools: pieces of bone, turtle shell and wood. The tufuga ta tatau are revered masters in Samoan society. In Samoan custom, a Pe'a is only done the traditional way, with aspects of cultural ceremony and ritual, and has a strong meaning for the one who receives it. The process takes place with the subject lying on mats on the floor with the tattooist and assistants beside them. Family members of the person getting the tattoo are often in attendance at a respectful distance to provide words of encouragement, sometimes through song. The Pe'a can take less than a week to complete, or, in some cases, years.
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