Getting a traditional Polynesian tattoo might seem like an awesome idea, but anyone who has ever gone through the procedure could tell you that it may be one of the hardest things you ever attempt. It is extremely long, extremely painful, and not for the feint of heart!
The entire procedure for the traditional pe'a (fully covering the torso and upper legs) would take about three months to complete. Every day, the warrior would undergo as much work as he could stand before the pain became too great or until dusk descended. Sometimes it was necessary to take a few days off to let the extreme skin inflammation calm down. The healing process took up to a year, with extensive aftercare of salt water washes and skin massages being necessary to avoid infection. Simple actions like walking were difficult and required assistance by friends and family.
Avoiding or quitting the tattoo process had dire consequences. Those who could not endure the procedure would be shunned by society, considered a coward for life. Because of this, despite the extreme, long-lasting pain, there were few who shrank from the challenge of getting tattooed.
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