New Ink, Big Meaning

Beez Neez now Chy Whella
Big Bear and Pepe Millard
Wed 7 Oct 2015 22:57
New Tattoo with So Much Meaning
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When Edgar had finished his demonstration in the Cultural Centre, I asked him what he would draw for a boat setting off on a long journey as a token of safe passage. Immediately he drew a grid and began the continuous line that would become an elaborate turtle. We both looked at each other and tattoo was the unspoken word. We left the museum and headed straight to Vila Tattoo, Bear looked through one of the books and pointed to a manta ray, a plan was coming together. I had been told firmly by many not to have any ink work done anywhere in Fiji. This was not a problem, one day we walked past a seedy joint in Lautoka with a scruffy board outside advertising “We sterile our needle”........... nuff said. Lucy the receptionist booked me in for a planning meeting at ten in the morning.
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That evening we looked at words. I really wanted Fair Winds and a Following Sea. In Chinese writing it didn’t look the part and then we fell about remembering the joke “who would trust a language that looks likes a bunch of tattoos”, that’s a no then.......... The words Edgar had written didn’t tick the box either. Hmmmmm.
We jumped up this morning and colour me happy, as we pulled onto the main road Bear took this picture, albeit through a very dirty window – a Bug convertible. Vanuatu is indeed the happiest place on earth to live.
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Final plans were very much a team effort, Dokie seen putting the finishing touches to the template. Lucy got everything ready and Bear took a picture in the mirror showing the plan on the computer.
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Bear then sat quietly until the proceedings began.
Even the cows approved of the final draught. Cattle here are grass fed from birth and the beef is seen as some of the tenderest and tastiest in the world.
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Template in place. First ink struck, then Bear went to see a solar man opposite. Needles to say after his hole falling incident, he was under strict instructions concerning crossing the road, talking to strange ladies and a definite must was to miss all holes. I’m pleased to report he was safely back fifteen minutes later and at two hours thirty, Dokie was taking pictures for his album. This pernickety, talented and fast man had worked magic, his machinery was the quietest ever, no pain, no bloodshed and not much bruising save for the tender bit under my knee, well there’s not much traffic there. Thank you for that. You’re entirely welcome.
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Happy poses for Bear.
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The finished piece. The noble manta ray connects the sea to the heavens.
The central piece is a lovely lady, her head on the right is a set of stars, on the left the moon and the sun, all essential markers for us at sea. She wears two frangipani flowers, one each for us for safety at sea and a tropical essence to carry with us. Her shell is a decorated tamtam, very imbedded in the culture of Vanuatu, used for signalling and sounding dance rhythms, seen by the door to protect the home.
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The words. Magandang Hangin at Mapayapang Dagat. Chatting to Dokie about my wish for Safe Winds and a Following Sea and how ugly it looked in Latin and Chinese, hoping for something other than English, he wrote it out in his native Filipino. In the literal meaning it says Beautiful Winds and Peaceful Sea – perfect for us.
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On the i I have a tiny wisp of wind and the cross of the T is a little wave.
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The tail. Beginning with a lotus flower in traditional pink, happily living on water, coming out of the mud to succeed, overcoming life’s obstacles. The lotus flower is always seen at the bottom of  the Saint Thomas Cross, a cross which belonged to the ancient community of Saint Thomas Christians of the Indian sub-continent who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Saint Thomas in the 1st century thus making it one of the oldest Christian communities of the world. Below is the & to go with the words.
Then comes Dokie, he was surprised I wanted him to sign his work but found this very subtle way to add it in the piece.
The simplistic butterflies – Pepe in Tongan means butterfly.

Whether it be the snake that is seen wrapped around the Rod of Asclepius [which takes its name from the god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicinal arts in Greek mythology] or part of the two-snake caduceus design which has ancient and consistent associations with trade, eloquence, trickery and negotiation. Tangential association of the caduceus with medicine has occurred through the ages, where it was sometimes associated with alchemy and wisdom or the Lemniscate of Bernoulli - the symbol of infinity. The 8 on it’s own made the chap have too shorter tail hence the other loop.

I went back to our digs a very happy soul, then I won at backgammon and Mexican – a thoroughly good day.

                     VERY, VERY BEAUTIFUL