In the 1830s, missionaries in French Polynesia sought to suppress the traditional art of tattooing, because they believed it to be a barbaric practice. More than 150 years later, tattooing is once again thriving in French Polynesia. This engrossing book documents the meaning of tattooing in contemporary French Polynesian society. As a permanent inscription, a tattoo makes a powerful statement about identity and culture. In this case, its resurgence is part of a vibrant cultural revival movement. Kuwahara examines the complex significance of the art, including its relationship to gender, youth culture, ethnicity and prison life. She also provides unique photographic evidence of the sophisticated techniques and varied forms that characterize French Polynesian tattooing today. Winner of The Japanese Society for Oceanic Studies Award 2005.