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Lonely Planet Samoa : Independent & American Samoa (3rd Ed)


TAEMA and TILAFAIGA – The patron deities of tattooing. These two goddesses were born as conjoined twins but as they swam the ocean to Tutuila and then Fiji they were separated by a collision with a floating log. On Fiji the twins learned the art of tattooing and when they swam back to the Samoan islands they introduced the artform there. As twins double yams, double bananas and other flukes are sacred to them. Because they were born conjoined it is considered an affront to Taema and Tilafaiga for humans to sit back to back.

PAPA – In other Polynesian island groups Papa is the Earth goddess. In the Samoan pantheon she is strictly the goddess of the flatrock base beneath islands. Admittedly that is an oddly specific designation. She mated with the supreme deity Tangaloa to give birth to some of the Samoan islands.


Samoan Islands Map Of the samoan islands.

An estimated 370,000 Samoan language speakers can be found around the world, the majority of them located in the Samoan Islands. Another major Samoan language location is New Zealand, where Samoan is the fourth most-spoken language.