Here are some of the reasons the Polynesian people had tattoos: The tattoos were a symbol of courage. The tattoo process was very painful and a lot of perseverance was needed to endure the long tattoo sessions.Getting the first tattoo marks the transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a rite of passage.Tattoos added to the sexual attractiveness of a man. Tattoos offered protection, they were a talisman.Polynesian tattoos read like a book. By looking at a tattoo, insiders get to know the social status and rank of the tattooed person.