The Maori people are indigenous to New Zealand, and tribal family groups still live in the area and across Australia. The Maori are well-known for their elaborate tattoos, Ta moko, which can cover a person from head to toe.
Maori Tattoo History
Because tattooing was brought to New Zealand from Polynesia, there are many parallels between Maori tribal designs and those of South Pacific islanders.
Maori tattoos are usually done with a knife and chisel, with ink created from burning wood or mashed bugs. Tattooing these designs is time-consuming and involves cutting into the skin and applying ink with a chisel. The whole thing is ritualized, including everything from fasting to abstinence. Maori tattoos include various symbolic elements, from their placement on the body to the design displayed, and essential persons are frequently tattooed from head to toe.
Maori Face Tattoo
For the wearer, the placement of tattoos on the body has a range of meanings. The most well-known example of Ta moko is the face tattoo, which is also one of the essential tattoos in Maori culture. Because the head is one of the holiest areas of the body, a face tattoo often indicates the wearer's tribal status and importance.
The following are some of the meanings of face tattoos:
- Center of the forehead (called a ngakaipikirau): denotes the person's rank
- Near the eyebrows (ngunga): the person's position
- Under the eyes (uirere): person's rank within the tribe
- Temples (uma): marital status
- Under the nose (raurau): represents the person's signature and was traditionally used for the transfer of objects and properties
- Cheeks (wairua): the person's type of work
- Jaw (taitoto): birth status
- Left side: paternal lineage
- Right side: maternal ancestry
Maori tattoos are an essential part of Maori culture and is seen as a rite of passage into maturity. Tattoo artists are known as tohunga ta moko and are revered as sacred figures.
Maori symbols frequently convey themes about integrating people, the land, and oneself. They can signify power and strength because important people wear them in Maori culture.
People who wear Maori tattoos are typically solid and silent individuals who value their bodies. Maori tattoos might have personal meanings tied to the symbol or a Maori story that you can relate to. Personal significance might be attached to their placement on the body.
Today you can try Maori face temporary tattoos to show yourselves!