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Jack W. Grove’s Drawings of Samoan Tattoos

23 February 2015

Author : jamiejelinski

Jack W. Groves was born in 1925 of British descent. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Groves visited Apia, Samoa, creating an extensive collection of drawings depicting tattoos he had seen on the Samoan population

Now part of the British Museum’s collection, Groves’s drawings offer a unique insight mid 20th century tattoo practices in Samoa. The British Museum’s online collection holds 56 examples of Groves’s drawings, primarily illustrations of tribal tattooing on Samoan men (of the 56 drawings, only 2 are of women’s tattoos). One interesting feature worth noting is the appearance of distinctly Western motifs, which are in one instance applied alongside traditional tribal tattoos.

For more images and information see the British Museum’s online collection here.

“Drawing; image of a Samoan tattoo. 1940s-1950s.Pigment ink.”

“Drawing; three views of a section of Tafao’s leg, from the front, back and side, showing tattoos. May 1949. Pigment ink and watercolour.”

“Drawing; image of a section of the top half of a female leg and female genitals, showing tattoos. May 1951.Graphite.”

“Drawing; image of a male torso and legs; from the front, and from the back showing tattoos. January 1952. Pigment ink and watercolour.”

“Drawing; image of eighteen Samoan tattoos. 1940s-1950s. Pigment ink.”


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