Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/308

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Cook's Otaheiti. Not a trace of tattooing is now to be seen, though in olden days it was practised by almost all Tahitians, both men and women, simply as a personal adornment. Happily they seldom disfigured their faces, but the women tattooed their feet, up to the ankles, and marked bracelets on their arms and wrists. The men sometimes covered the whole body with intricate patterns, often gracefully drawn, as when a cocoa-nut palm was designed on the leg, or a bread-fruit tree, with twining vines, on the chest. Fishes and birds, flowers and fruits, spears and clubs, were favourite subjects; and sometimes a battle-piece, or the offering of sacrifice at the marae, were thus indelibly marked. In the character of subjects selected, the tattooing of Tahiti seems to have been nearer akin to that of Japan than of any other nation, though in this respect, as in all others, the Japanese lend to their work an artistic beauty of their own.

In all other groups, the patterns selected were generally stars or lines. By far the most elaborate designs are those of New Zealand and the Marquesas; but the former invariably adhere to curved lines or concentric circles, covering the whole face, while the latter make broad straight lines all over the body, with occasional designs of animals.

The only Marquesan whom I have seen here is most elaborately tattooed from head to foot, and I am told he is a fair type of his countrymen. All the Maoris whom we saw in New Zealand were so fully clothed, that I can only testify to the very finely marked intricate circles on the faces of the men, and the hideous blue lips of the women. In Samoa the men are so marked as apparently to be clothed in dark-blue-silk knee-breeches. In Tonga only the men were tattooed, the women never were. In Fiji, on the other hand, men were never tattooed; but, for women, a certain small amount was a compulsory religious act.

In all these countries so many idolatrous ceremonies were connected with the process, that it was invariably prohibited so soon as the people professed Christianity. In Japan, where it has hitherto been so practised as to be a really beautiful art, it has been declared illegal by the same police regulations which, greatly