Polynesian Tattoo Symbols & Meanings – Human Symbols – Enata

Picture showing Polynesian tattoo symbol "enata" and its variations and combinations.

“Enata” is a typical motif in Polynesian tattoo designs to symbolize humans and gods. It originates from Marquesas language. It’s commonly used for representing life experiences, birth, rank in society, etc. It can be also used by combination to represent relationships, such as marriage, family, relatives and friends. Actions can be also represented, for example, a combination of enatas and a creature means defending this dangerous creature. A reversed enata is also used for symbolizing an enemy. The picture in this article shows a basic enata and its commonly seen variations and combinations. In Polynesian tattoo designs, you’ll commonly see a semi-circle of enatas, like the two semi-circles in the lower right corner of the picture, which means the sky, guarding all the Polynesians and their children.

Below are some Polynesian tattoo samples of the use of symbol enata:

Picture showing an enata sample used in a Polynesian tattoo design.

Picture 2 showing a combinations of enatas embedded in a Polynesian tattoo design.

Picture 3 showing an enata couple used in a Polynesian tattoo design.


  1. Tim estrela says:

    Big polynesian fan however am not sure of what the line on his chest represents or what it is, is it a form of a flax leave or a ti leave? /Users/nestrela/Desktop/TOM.jpg

  2. big fan of these tattoos and im looking foward to getting one soon. can you guys help me and explain to me what this tattoo means ?http://tattoospedia.com/Categories%202/Half%20Sleeve%20Polynesian%20Tattoos/Half%20Sleeve%20Polynesian%20Tattoos%2002.jpg

    • InPolynesian Tattooing there are so many motifs that represent something, usually expressed through nature, so youll never be able to say what does this tattoo mean? because of all the variations and different meanings that different Polynesian countries represent. However you can break down what this man has and what he wanted to represent. for example there are symbols of courage, strength, wealth, life, knowledge,overcoming obstacles, moment of awakening and family. Unfortunately as its coming more and more mainstream individuals are blindly tattooing themselves ignorant and unaware of its meaning and purpose, make sure you take time to research and really understand what your getting and respect this culture representation. Cheers

      • Yes, their meanings can vary from area to area, country to country, artist to artist. I’m not offering definition but brief introduction that I know to those people who do not know much about this culture.

  3. Colin Knuckles says:

    I have been an avid fan of the tattoo and especially the Hawaiian tattoos since my first trip to O’ahu and Kaua’i back in 2012. I have gone back this year and become more and more enthralled in it. I was curious how I would put together a Hawaiian style tattoo. For Instance, I would like it to start at the top of my shoulder and go down to my bicep, with things like, Family, Laughter, Success, the Ocean, Patience, Strength, Leader, God and Friendship. Where could I go that would be able to help me incorporate those all together. I have looked and looked for the meaning of each thing and have been unable to find the correlation between a Hawaiian tattoo symbol and the above words to be included in my tattoo.. Any help? Would be great appreciated.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Could the use of one enata represent a father and son relationship?

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