Fiji Times – Tattooing has been practised in the Pacific region for ages and in the traditional societies of Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand, it is part of their identity.
In Fiji though, tattooing has become more of a fashion statement, if anything.
People of all ages, backgrounds and stations in life have tattoos, many of whom have large parts of their bodies covered in ink.
Mesake Singh is one of a number of highly professional tattoo artists in the country who service the growing demand for ink.
Operating from a studio at Ellery St in Suva, Mesake is a dedicated professional who goes all out to create the perfect body art.
He started off doing tattoos for pocket money while a student at Dudley High School in Toorak before following his older brother Billy into the business.
“I learned a lot initially from Billy but I have always had a personal interest of pursuing tattooing as a profession,” said the 29-year-old who has been in the business for 13 years.
“These days a lot more people are getting into traditional Fijian designs because Samoan and Tongan designs have become too common,” he said.
“They come to us to get real Fijian patterns which you hardly get to see now.”
To get the right traditional indigenous Fijian designs, the tattoo artist does a lot of research in places like the Fiji Museum and tapping into the knowledge of skilled handicraft workers.
“I usually consult with Fijian handicraft workers who explain to us the meaning of some of the designs.”
Designs like cannibal forks signify strength while other items like a traditional iTaukei comb, beauty.
Mesake said a lot of iTaukei designs were feminine, which was unique in the Pacific which made sense given it was mainly women in traditional Fijian society who had tattoos, particularly at the onset of menstruation.
Tattoo designs can be very complex and some take much longer than others to complete.
“I tattooed a full Fijian sleeve on a guy who came in from England once. I tattooed him for a straight 22 hours, with breaks in between, because he had to return to England in two days,” said the artist who travels on demand as far as Nadi for his work.
– Fiji Times