EPISODE 5 – SAMOA
Written and directed by Jean-François Martel
Western Samoa is one of the few places on the planet where traditional tattooing continued unimpeded through the colonial era. Sua Peter Sulu’ape is a contemporary master of the craft. With his father and brothers, he works out of a cultural village in the heart of Apia, the Samoan capital. The Sulu’apes are one of only two Samoan families who are authorized by tradition to create tattoos in accordance with ancient custom. Embracing their role, they carry on a sacred practice whose origins lie in legend, and which continues to shape the character of Samoa today.
Sua Peter Sulu’ape
Sua Peter Sulu’ape is the eldest son of Sua Petelo Sulu’ape, the patriarch of an important tattooing family of Western Samoa. Born and raised in the villages Matafa’a and Faleasi’u on the island of Upolo, Peter discovered tatau as a child when he began serving his father as a stretcher during lengthy tattooing sessions. A few years later, he learned how to craft traditional tools. After obtaining his pe’a tattoo upon reaching adulthood, he made the decision to devote his life to the art form that is his birthright as a member of the Sulu’ape clan.