The traditional Hawaiian art of “kakau,” tattooing, all but disappeared in the 1800s, under missionary influence. However, thanks to writers and artists like P.F. “Ski” Kwiatkowski and Tom O’o Mehau, their imagery and legacy have been preserved for future generations.
Kwiatkowski first self-published “The Hawaiian Tattoo” in 1996. Recreated with the same vivid intricacy as the first, the book is now more affordable and available to a wider reach.
Inspired by Bishop Museum resources—drawings of first-contact artists such as Webber, Choris and Arago, skin images of mummified remains, and kapa designs—Kwiatkowski details the history of various tattoo patterns, including deep religious or other significance.
“The Hawaiian Tattoo” is available at Mama’s House Thrift Store or Gallery of Great Things in Waimea, and will be available for sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, at the Feb. 16, “Pride in Hawaiian Arts” event at Kahilu Town Hall. In a special offering, Wahine Toa Designs will present a selection of their wearable art, inspired by Polynesian traditions and lifestyle.
Admission is free, and visitors can enjoy a variety of cultural artists in two- and three-dimensional media, Hawaiian music and hula. Waimea Artists’ Guild artists, including Mehau, will be on hand to share their works in bone and wood carvings, fine arts, and more. For additional information, contact Beth or Tom Mehau at The Pantry, 887-2289.