Posted on May 7, 2015 3:00 pm

Palauan Tattoos

“The Palauans call a tattoo dngod, the process, to tattoo, melngod, and a tattooist, chad er a omelngod, literally, a person who tattoos. Kramer uses the term dagalbai (today written dachelbai) for a tattoo artist… How fully a person was tattooed depended on rank and wealth, Palauan social organization was based– theoretically, or the ideal pattern– on a system of ten ranking clans being present in a village. Wealth was concentrated in the highest ranking clans so that the ability to pay for tattooing was greater at the top of the system than at the bottom, resulting in those in higher clans being fully tattooed and those in lower ones less so, or not at all. All, though, were supposed to have some tattooing. A person who was not tattooed was referred to as klemedu (meau) and therefore naked, a despised state to be in.” –Philip J.C. Dark

C. “Sha” Merirei Ongelungel completed her apprenticeship and began tattooing regularly in 2007. Presently, she is currently the only known licensed Palauan female tattooist who works almost exclusively on traditionally-inspired neo-tribal Palauan art.


You can learn more at her official tattooing site: