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Traditional tattoo of Samoan women 'Malu' - 2-
Malu means to protect. While women's tattoo may have had protective significance in the past, today it is discussed in terms of family status and cultural commitment. When a women is preparing to get her malu, she (and often family and friends) will be interviewed by the tattoo artist (tufuga ta tatau) to determine the motifs to be used and their proper placement, so that the finished design will correctly express the family history and personality of the wearer.

Similar design personalization through personal interview is also the protocol for men preparing for their pe'a. Since most Samoan women keep their legs covered below the knee, malu is rarely visible in public. Rather it is primarily seen when dancing or sitting cross-legged to make the ceremonial drink 'ava, making the permanent commitment to culture directly relevant to ceremonial events.

Although seen on fewer women today, tattoo masters who perform the malu on women state that it is of equal importance as the male pe'a, and that they are worn today for similar reasons.

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