Until the early 20th century, pigment used in #Samoan #tatau was made from lama or #candlenut (Aleurites sp.) soot. Once collected, these tree nuts were baked in an underground oven for two days before being cracked with a stone and strung together on a #coconut rib. They were then transferred to a specially-made coconut-leaf shed. Therein a fire was built between a set of three stones, two set upright and one laid across the top to bridge the fire. As the prepared candlenuts burned they emitted an oily smoke which collected as soot on the face of the upper stone. That soot was later scraped off and stored in a coconut shell.
To make #tattoo pigment, lama soot was ground up inside a coconut shell mortar (Ipu lama) using a wooden pestle (Tu’i). As the soot was pulverized, water was introduced to create the desired consistency.
Here you see some recent #fabrication work on a Samoan-style Ipu lama and Tu’i for a historical tool display for @devinwilsontattoo. The Ipu lama has been sanded and burnished, and here is being worked with a combination of mineral oil and beeswax to create a light handling polish. The outer rim and inside of the mortar are stained using a pigment made from hand-ground wood charcoal and mineral oil. A portion of that same mixture is then further processed inside the Ipu lama using the Tu’i and allowed to dry within the mortar and on the the pestle end in order to form visible working deposits.
#tattoos #tattooarchaeology #tattoohistory #artifact #traditionaltattoos #Samoa #tribaltattoo #tattootools #handtapping #tatu #handtappingtattoo #traditionaltattooing #tattooink #reproduction #craft #museumreplicas #candlenut #mortarandpestle