Maori Tattoos. ‘Ta Moko’ Is a Legendary Art Full of Old Meanings

Maori Tattoos. ‘Ta Moko’ Is a Legendary Art Full of Old Meanings
Isabel del Rio

Maori tattoos. Tā moko is the permanent body and face marking by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Maori Tattoos. ‘Ta Moko’ Is a Legendary Art Full of Old Meanings

Maori Warrior

Each moko (tattoo) contains ancestral tribal messages. For example, they tell people’s family history, tribal affiliations, and social standing.

Moko (tattoos) were applied to the face and body. In men the moko could cover the whole face. Women were traditionally only tattooed on their lips, around the chin, and sometimes the nostrils

Traditionally, Moko is distinct from tattoo. There, the skin was carved by chisels rather than punctured. This left the skin with grooves, rather than a smooth surface. It’s very painful!

Maori Tattoos. ‘Ta Moko’ Is a Legendary Art Full of Old Meanings

Maori Princess

In 1769, Captain James Cook, one of the first Europeans who met Maori people, wrote about Maori tattoos:

“The marks in general are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance. One side corresponds with the other. The marks on the body resemble foliage in old chased ornaments, convolutions of filigree work, but in these they have such a luxury of forms that of a hundred which at first appeared exactly the same no two were formed alike on close examination.”

In the late 19th century, needles came to replace the chisels as the main tools. Most tā moko applied today is done using a tattoo machine.

Maybe you also like this post: Lionel Messi & his New Tattoo. Sports & Body Art.

Since 1990 there has been a great resurgence in the practice of tā moko for both men and women. Now, it’s a sign of cultural identity and a reflection of the general revival of Maori language and culture.

Te Uhi a Mataora was established in 2000 “to preserve, enhance, and develop tā moko as a living art form”.

Do you like tattoos? Tell us your opinion!

Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is everywhere and up to you!

Video: Maori tattoos.

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