(Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Tim McKenna)
© GIE Tahiti Tourism / Tim McKenna

Pareo, monoi, tattoos and tiare flowers

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

These words are already a journey. Before discover Polynesia in 2012, I thought it was mostly folklore for tourists in search of exoticism. Not at all. These are really strong cultural symbols, rooted in the everyday life of Polynesians.

The ubiquitous tiare flower

(Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Sébastien Joly)
(Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Sébastien Joly)

The Tahiti tiareit's the emblem of French Polynesia! Men and women wear the flower by the ear (in button for the first, in corolla for the seconds) and one takes the habit to do the same, during a stay in Tahiti and its islands. This is perfectly normal ! It smells wonderfully good and the scent of the necklace of flowers that we give you around the neck on arrival is unforgettable. Good to know: the flower in the left ear means that your heart is already taken, to the right ear that you are available ...

Monoi and its sweet fragrance

(Photo : Monoï de Tahiti / FlickR)
(Photo: Monoï de Tahiti / FlickR)

I did not know, before bringing back a bottle to my home in Brittany, that this sweet-scented oil froze below twenty degrees ... But it's enough to pass under hot water so that it becomes liquid again and it has no effect on its preservation. Monoi is obtained by maceration of tiare flowers in refined coconut oil (coconut). It should not be put before sun exposure, but instead use it after, as do the Polynesian women, to moisturize the skin and nourish the hair.

Polynesian tattoos

(Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Nicolas Pérez)
(Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Nicolas Pérez)

I do not think I crossed a Polynesian without tattoos, during my trip there in 2012! Banished by Western missionaries landed in the Pacific in the late eighteenth century, a little "forgotten" until recently, the tatau is now again very popular. This tradition once had a sacred and social dimension, it was a sign of prestige - warriors and chiefs sporting the most elaborate. Today, Polynesian tattoos are really a symbol of identity.

The indispensable pareo

(Photo : © GIE Tahiti Tourisme / Tim McKenna)
(Photo: © GIE Tahiti Tourism / Tim McKenna)

This piece of brightly colored cloth is worn in loincloth by men and knotted in a thousand clever ways by women. Essential ! In the islands, the sarong is the perfect beachwear adopted by tourists from all over the world. On vacation, I always have several with me. It remains the emblem of the wahine, the Polynesian woman, and it is often found in the paintings of Paul Gauguin.

  Polynesia: Maupiti + Rangiroa + Moorea - October 2012