What Is A Maori Tattoo?
Tā moko is the permanent marking or ” tattoo ” as traditionally practised by Māori , the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is one of the main five different Polynesian tattoo styles (the other four are Marquesan, Samoan, Tahitian and Hawaiian).  Tohunga -tā-moko (tattooists) were considered tapu , or inviolable and sacred. .
- 1 What does Māori tattoos represent?
- 2 Is it disrespectful to get a Māori tattoo?
- 3 What tattoos are offensive?
- 4 What does a line down your chin mean?
- 5 Why should you not get a tribal tattoo?
- 6 Who can wear a moko?
- 7 Do Maori tattoo their lips?
- 8 What do Maori moko mean?
- 9 Can you get a Samoan tattoo if you are not Samoan?
What does Māori tattoos represent?
We take great pride in producing traditional Maori tattoo art – In the past, Ta Moko tattoos traditionally represented particular Maori tribes but for those of different heritage/ancestry – this is not the case. However, the tattoo can have a range of other legitimate meanings, such as your family (physical lives), prosperity, travel, strength, your career path etc.
Is it disrespectful to get a Māori tattoo?
DO POLYNESIAN PEOPLE CONSIDER DISRESPECTFUL IF OTHERS GET A POLYNESIAN TATTOO? No, and yes. It depends on how you approach Polynesian art and, ultimately, culture. Plain copying someone else’s tattoo is always disrespectful, because you are stealing their own story.
What are Māori tattoos called?
Tā moko reflects an individual’s whakapapa (ancestry) and personal history. In earlier times, it was an important signifier of social rank, knowledge, skill and eligibility to marry. Many of the designs are universal. In particular, the spirals that swirl across the nose, cheek and lower jaw.
The lines of a moko accentuate the lines of the face to emphasise the expressions. The main lines in a Māori tattoo are called manawa (heart). These lines represent your life journey. Common tattoo designs can include the koru, which represents an unfurling silver fern, and symbolically represents a new life or the unfolding of someone’s life path.
When used in tā moko, the koru normally represents a loved one or family member..
What is Māori face tattoo?
What’s the controversy? – Ms Anderson, who runs a life coaching business, had her moko kauae done a few years ago by a Maori artist. She has been quoted as saying it symbolises what she has gone through in life, including a violent gang rape in her youth.
- The simple design “explains the transformative work that Sally does”, said a statement on her website;
- The tattoo artist Inia Taylor has said he had “strong reservations” about carrying out the work, “but after many calls and discussions I realised that the only reason to denying her would be that of race”;
But he recently complained to Ms Anderson that she seemed to be using the moko to promote her business. In response, Ms Anderson took the references to her tattoo off her website, though pictures remained.
Why do Māori tattoo their chin?
For New Zealand Māori women, the moko kauae, or traditional female chin tattoo, is considered a physical manifestation of their true identity. It is believed every Māori woman wears a moko on the inside, close to their heart; when they are ready, the tattoo artist simply brings it out to the surface.
Last month, Nanaia Mahuta became the first member of parliament in the world to wear a moko kauae. The 46-year-old made history not only because of her decision to wear her Māori identity on her face in a political arena, but as part of the resurgence in Māori women receiving the traditional ink.
It’s been an interesting thing. People look at you differently. “There were a number of milestones in my life, and it felt right to mark them in a way that is a positive statement about my identity,” Nanaia (below) tells Broadly. “Who I am, where I come from, and the contribution I want to continue to make.
When I got it done, I felt incredibly calm. I felt like it had always been there. ” Nanaia’s moko marked the anniversary of her father’s death, and the designs incorporate the traditional carving patterns of her tribe, Ngāti Maniapoto.
But she also received the moko to inspire her three-year-old daughter. “As a young Māori woman I want my daughter to know that everything is at her fingertips; she just needs to reach forward and grab it. ” Nanaia Mahuta. Photo by Kina Sai Nanaia’s first time in parliament wearing the moko was emotional. “There was a huge amount of pride from other Māori women,” she recalls. “It’s been an interesting thing. People look at you differently. It’s a cultural marker, and it says clearly when I’m sitting round a table that I do represent a certain way of thinking.
” Māori facial and body tattooing is known as Tā moko. An ancient art form, its origin lies in West Polynesia. The intricate designs were chiseled into the skin using a tool called an uhi; ink was then smudged into the carved lines.
Tā moko represents the wearer’s family heritage and social status—it is believed that the receiver visits a spiritual realm where they encounter their ancestors, returning as a new person. For Māori women, as historian Michael King notes in his seminal book Moko , the moko was a rite of passage, marking the passage between girl and adulthood. Maori woman c. 1890. Photo courtesy of Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries But from 1840, with the influx of English settlers , Māori were pushed from their lands and assimilation began. Colonial laws were passed banning what are known as tohunga , or Māori experts, and children were caned for speaking Māori at school.
- By the 1970s, the moko had all but died out;
- Only a few female elders carried it, and elsewhere facial tattoos had negative connotations; adopted by disaffected urban Māori, they became associated with gangs and crime;
Things started to change in the 1980s, with a push to revive Māori language and culture, and in recent years there has been a revival in the ancient practice among both elders and young Māori women. Tā moko artist Pip Hartley, 33, is one of a new generation of Māori who are carrying the art form forward.
- When she was 18 she started traveling to remote regions of the country to learn the ancient art, before opening her Auckland tattoo studio, Karanga Ink , this year;
- The moko process is intensely personal, Pip tells Broadly;
“I prefer to draw straight onto the person, because it’s an exchange of wairua, or energy. It’s working with the contours of their body and translating their story, and for a lot of people it’s a transformative experience. Every time they see it, it’s a reminder of what they’ve achieved, and that their tupuna [ancestors] have their back.
- ” Pip Hartley using her uhi, the traditional ta moko tool;
- Video courtesy of Karanga Ink When a woman is ready to receive her moko kauae, there is an internal calling, Pip says;
- “It’s definitely them representing their culture and making a commitment to it, and having a closer connection to their ancestors;
There are people who might look at it with one eyebrow up, not understanding it, but I think that is something these wahine [women] are ready for—to feel confident within themselves. I can’t wait to get mine. ” For weaver Jude Hoani, receiving her moko last year was about defining who she is.
“I’ve got one of those faces that can fit in many cultures,” she tells Broadly, “and for me it was about making a statement about who I am in relation to this country. I’d been thinking about it for the past 20 years.
” I’d been thinking about it for the past 20 years. Jude (below) first broached the subject with her late husband. “He said, ‘I don’t want you to have it done. ‘ I said ‘Well, it’s not your business, and you’re not part of the decision-making process at all, and you need to understand that.
- ” Her cousin, renowned tā moko artist Gordon Toi, would tease Jude, telling her: “I’ve got a seat for you on my table;
- ” When Jude’s older brother died of kidney failure, her decision was made;
- “We were very, very close;
Around that time, Gordon just sort of reappeared in my life, and I said, ‘Well, I’m ready to get on your table. ‘ ” Jude Hoani. Photograph by Stephen Langdon Jude says the actual tattooing, which took half an hour using a regular tattoo gun, wasn’t painful. “It was more uncomfortable. A quarter of orange in the mouth to bite on, and we were done. ” The design on her chin is a stylised ruru, or owl.
- According to Māori tradition, the ruru is the kaitiaki (guardian) of the chin;
- Her moko also has elements of a carving design particular to her tribe, Ngāpuhi;
- Since receiving her moko, Jude says she feels more visible;
“A lot of people in my town who had never spoken to me started talking to me. They actually see me, they look at me, they look at my face, they look into my eyes. ” Now that I have this moko, I’m not invisible. “I was speaking to a Pākehā [white New Zealander] friend of mine the other day who is in her seventies,” Jude adds.
“She was telling me she likes going into the city less and less because when she stands at a counter she gets ignored. She said: ‘I’m sure it’s because of my age. ‘ Now that I have this moko, that doesn’t happen to me.
I’m not invisible. ” For More Stories Like This, Sign Up for Our Newsletter Forty-eight year old Benita Tahuri (below) spent more than half her life thinking about getting her moko, a time that was about average for the women Broadly spoke to. “I always knew inside I wanted one, and after going through a lot of life changes and challenges and much contemplation, I knew it was the right thing for me to do,” she says. ” Benita Tahuri. Photo by Stephen Langdon “There’s a lot of thinking that not anyone can wear one, that you’ve got to earn it,” Benita explains. “But my belief is that if you’re Māori, this is your birthright. No-one can stop you if you think it’s right for you. It’s something that was normal, and became not normal.
- “For me it spoke of healing, reflection, and empowerment and identity;
- It wasn’t any conscious kind of thought—the physical manifestation of moko kauae is the end of a journey;
- We’ve had to struggle to get back so many things, so we shouldn’t put up barriers;
” Benita is of the Ngāti Kahungunu and Tūhoe tribes. She grew up in the small town of Wairoa, in New Zealand’s North Island. The local pub had an unspoken rule: the back bar was for Māori, and the front bar for Pākehā [whites]. No-one spoke Māori in public.
- She moved to the city and sent her children to Māori immersion schools, and now her daughters Honey (23) and Anahera (25) have their own moko;
- Read more: The Enduring Friendship of Black Twin Sisters, in Photos “I wanted [the moko] to be part of what was normal for them,” their mother explains;
“For me it was more of a process, but for them it was just what they did. And that’s when it’s special. You know, you can’t just put it away, like if you have a tattoo you wear a shirt and it’s covered. It’s there for life. It’s a commitment to yourself and your identity. ‘ ” Benita with her daughters Honey and Anahera. Photo by Stephen Langdon As the needle pierced Drina Paratene’s skin, she felt nothing but peace. “I had been mentally preparing myself,” says the 52-year-old (pictured below). “We said karakia [prayers] before we started. I was expecting quite a high level of pain, and I had none at all.
“It’s saying ‘I stand in who I am, and this is who I am. ” Lying on the floor at home, Drina received her moko from artist Pip Hartley. Pip used the traditional tool, the uhi, which in pre-colonial times was a chisel made of bone, dipped into pigment and then used to cut the skin.
Pip uses a needle in her uhi, hand-tapping the ink into the skin in the traditional technique. Watch now: Australian Rapper Tkay Maidza is Ready to Take Over the World “I wanted her to use [the uhi] because it connects us to our ancestors and their experiences,” says Drina, a Māori language teacher.
“I thought ‘Okay, it’s probably going to get worse than this,’ but I lay there for six hours and there was no pain at all. ” Drina was part of the Kōhanga Reo political movement , which pushed to revive Māori language in the early 80s.
“I wanted to be part of the collective group of women who are wearing moko kauae to revitalise this tikanga [custom], so we could normalise it in our society,” she says. Drina’s moko symbolises the three values she believes are essential to a meaningful life: The first is tika, or honesty and integrity; the second is pono, or belief in a higher spiritual order; and the third is aroha, meaning love. ” Drina Paratene. Photo by Stephen Langdon.
What is the Māori symbol for family?
Maori koru symbol for family,unity & love~ family of five. Hand carved in bone. Hand carved from cow bone, this finely detailed carving is an original One of a kind Maori inspired design. I have combined five koru fronds together.
What tattoos are offensive?
What does a line down your chin mean?
Getting ink on the chin is a concept that has been used throughout history but has recently been making a big come back. Dating back thousands of years ago, the idea of tattooing the chin was not just used as a way of showing off one’s fashion. In the Arctic regions, such as Alaska, tattoos were done on almost everyone that inhabited the areas.
- The Inuit people especially practiced the art of tattooing, woman more frequently than men;
- To the Inuit people of Alaska, tattoos held a strong spiritual connection;
- They believed that our bodies are simply vessels that harbor many souls, these souls are trapped within the joints of our body;
Because these souls are inside of our joints, simple tattoos such as dots and lines would be tattooed on the joints, such as the elbows, shoulders, wrists, knees, and ankles. The tattoo artists of the time were both men and woman, but mostly woman. The reasoning behind this is the people wanted the tattoo artists to have needle threading skills, in those days, the elderly woman of the area would be best suited for this job since they were great at stitching and sewing. The people back then obviously did not use the ink that we use today for the tattoos.
- During this time, the tattoo would be done by using a large skin-sewing needle that would be dipped in a combination of seal oil, urine, and the black gunk that would be scraped off from a used pot;
- From here, the sewing needle would penetrate the part of the skin that was to be inked, a sort of stick and poke style of tattooing;
The chin tattoo was different from many of the other spiritual tattoos the Inuit people obtained. These chin tattoos were predominantly done on woman and although they were a simple design and pattern of lines, the significance of these tattoos on the chin were strong.
- The chin stripe as it is called, also known as tamlughun, was multiple stripes that ran down the chin;
- This chin stripe was used as a ritual for girls that have reached maturity;
- It was a signal to men that the particular woman had reached puberty, this tattoo was also used as a form of protection during enemy raids;
Although this practice has been outdated for thousands of years, there are still inuits of Alaska that still hold true to their rituals. They may not use the same ink as they did back then, but the concept of the tattoo on the chin remains the same. This is just an example of how tribes would get tattoos on their face and chin, all these years later, people of different backgrounds and ethnicities still get tattoos on their chins, designs and concepts for a piece such as this are endless.
Why should you not get a tribal tattoo?
Tribal tattoos have a deep meaning for people that are part of the culture they come from. Tattooing such sacred designs on you when you aren’t from that culture can be considered cultural appropriation and is damaging to the people and traditions of that culture.
Who can wear a moko?
In less than one generation that thinking has been largely discarded, as part of a deliberate ‘decolonising’ of those perceived barriers – and as a result the practice of moko kauae is widespread, with a general consensus that the only eligibility criterion is whakapapa – if you are a Māori woman, you have the right to.
What country are the Māori from?
Māori culture is an integral part of life in Aotearoa, New Zealand – For millennia, Māori have been the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of Aotearoa. Arriving here from the Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki over 1000 years ago, the great explorer Kupe, was the first Māori to reach these lands..
Do Maori tattoo their lips?
The Maori women of New Zealand find tattooing their lips and chins beautiful. The more ink the better. An all blue lip is considered the most beautiful. The Maori women of New Zealand find tattooing their lips and chins beautiful.
Why do NZ have Maori tattoos?
Ta Moko – To the Maori, tattooing is linked to mana or a sense of pride and prestige. The head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body, so ta moko was reserved for the face only and for Maori of high social status. Facial moko for Maori women was a chin tattoo or moko kauae. Portrait of a Young Maori Woman with Moko Google Art Project (Public Domain) The inking process was steeped in ritual and the designs themselves were considered highly sacred. The tattoo craftsman or tohunga ta moko was a respected specialist in a given iwi (tribe) and he was considered tapu (sacred and revered). Interestingly, Captain James Cook was also responsible for introducing the word “taboo” into the English language, which he heard as tapu during his 1771 CE visit to Tahiti.
The upper lips were also outlined, using a dark blue pigment, and the nostrils were incised. The tikanga (custom, values, protocol) behind moko kauae was that only kuia (elderly women) would receive them, but today in New Zealand, you will see many Maori women wearing moko kauae.
moko is the most common term for all forms of Maori tattooing. Most tohunga ta moko were men and the tattooing process, which itself was tapu , began at puberty as a rite of passage and would continue throughout life to mark important events and ancestral history.
A moko was an identity card that chronicled a person’s ancestral and life history, as well as their tribal affiliation. It indicated the whakapapa or line of ancestors a person descended from and the land to which they were connected.
A moko also carried values such as loyalty and commitment from the past to those in the future. Whakapapa was indicated on each side of the face with the left side being the father’s ancestry and the right side being the mother’s – although which side of the face was tattooed depended on iwi. Tāwhiao – Second King of the Māori Unknown (Public Domain) A warrior of the Urewera and Ngai-Tama tribes described moko in this way: You may lose your most valuable property through misfortune in various ways. your house, your weaponry, your spouse, and other treasures. You may be robbed of all that you cherish. But of your moko, you cannot be deprived, except by death. It will be your ornament and your companion until your final day. Netana Whakaari of Waimana, 1921 CE.
What do Maori moko mean?
tītī – 1. (noun) uppermost lines of moko on the forehead. Nōwhea e oti i a ia, i a Te Māhuki, ngā pūhoro, me ngā peke-ngārara – ngā pūtaringa, te ngū, ngā tītī , ngā tīwhana, me ērā atu hanga (KO 14/4/1883:5). / There was no way that he, Te Māhuki, could complete the tattoos on the thighs, on the limbs, the marks under the ears, on the side of the nose, the uppermost lines on the forehead, the lines above the eyebrows, and other ornamentation.
Is it cultural appropriation to get a tribal tattoo?
Tribal. There are many different types of tribal art, including Celtic, Iban, Mayan, and Aztec deities. Unless there’s a personal connection to the culture, these tattoos could be seen as cultural appropriation. Each symbol is rooted in the spirituality and specifics of what makes it traditional.
Can you get a Samoan tattoo if you are not Samoan?
The Moral of the Story is… – Do you have to be Samoan to get a Samoan tattoo? No. Should you be? You tell me. This article was first posted in 2014 on our previous website, One Samoana..
Can anyone get a Ta Moko?
– –> Ta Moko, the bodily artform of the indigenous Maori of New Zealand. An artform that traditionally marked status, social standing and now embodies a culture, history and family. Moko has in recent years been divided into two main branches; Ta Moko and Kirituhi.
Ta Moko is primarily for those of Maori blood and descent, while Kirituhi is for those of non Maori heritage. Ta Moko and Kirituhi tell a story, the story of the person wearing the tattoo. This tells of their family (whanau), their descent (whakapapa), their people and community (iwi), and tells of their life, their journey and the moments and details of significance in their lives.
Typically we would start the process sitting down with one of our Moko specialists to discuss your ideas you would like to represent in your tattoo, then designing freehand directly onto your skin with markers to craft a design that not only tells your story, but to create a tattoo that fits your body shape alone. com to start yourself on the journey to getting your own Ta Moko or Kirituhi today!
- According to Tahitian legend , the sons of Ta'aroa, the supreme creator, were the first beings to tat up;
- Ta'aroa's sons, in turn, taught the ink arts to men who relished the new form of self-expression;
- "My tattoos are all protection signs, symbols of nature and the world around us," Perez said;
- "They are meant to help gather more mana, or life energy;
- I have a wave shape and arrows on my right arm to give me more power and energy flowing to my mic while performing vocals;
Among the Maori , for example, both the one being tattooed and the artist carrying out the sacred art were forbidden from eating with their hands or speaking with anyone besides others being tattooed. Other Maori rules included abstaining from sex during the process and avoiding solid foods.The one being inked would be fed via a wooden funnel to keep food from falling into the swollen lines rising from the skin. Besides taboos, the placement on the body is crucial across Polynesia, with the lower body connected to the earth and worldly matters and the upper body turned to the spirit world.
For example, a tattoo on the head related to spirituality, knowledge, and intuition, while a design etched into the lower arms and hands connected to matters of creativity and creation. Some popular motifs included shark teeth, spearheads, waves, tiki figures, turtles, and lizards — each containing a meaning of its own.As American anthropologist and tattoo expert Lars Krutak wrote in his excellent introduction to Polynesian tattoos, the complex system of symbols and patterns found across the archipelagos are "veiled in a system of interrelationships between symbolic opposites (e.
- , life and death, darkness and light, impermanence and permanence, etc;
- ) that both accounted for and regulated the positive and negative forces held responsible for the origins of the Polynesian universe and the act of human creation, among other things;
Tohunga used what was called an uhi , or a wooden-handled chisel made from albatross or whale bone, which they hit with a mallet to create the distinctive Maori designs that resemble grooves in the skin.Maori with enough social standing to tat up had their faces marked to indicate rank and give a visual run-down of one's accomplishments, position, ancestry, and marital status, among other pieces of socially relevant information. Their inky masks contained spirals and curvy shapes, divided among eight sections of the face, each imbued with its own meaning.
- Maori women also wore lighter tattoos on their chin, lips, and nostrils;
- The art of moko was so revered that the heads of prominent figures were preserved after death as mokomokai;
- When possessed by families of the deceased, mokomokai were kept in ornate boxes and treated with great honor;
- From Repression to Rebirth Polynesia's long history of inking up was interrupted in the early 19th century, when Christian missionaries began to arrive on distant Pacific shores;
- The arrival of the foreign faith had a dramatic impact on the native spiritual beliefs of Polynesia;
A band of bards, priests, poets, and historians known as the ario'i led the movement, bolstered by social proof derived from their commitment to their patron deity ‘Oro, the god of war, for whom they threw lavish festivals.Taking a slightly different approach to the ban, the chieftains and elite of Tonga simply made the trip to Samoa, where missionaries held less sway and tattoo artists plied a brisk trade underground. Tattooists operating on the island of Savai'i, Samoa's largest, accumulated great wealth thanks to the glut of Tongans coming to their shore in search of ink.
This state of affairs continued to varying degrees across much of Polynesia until the 1970s and 1980s, when tattoos experienced a cultural rebirth just as they were in danger of being lost altogether. "Tattooing in French Polynesia was reborn by the end of the 1970s, but by that time ancient patterns and meanings were completely lost," Joaquim said."When people began to reappropriate tattoos, they used what was documented by a few German and American scientists [from the 19th century]. " Contemporary Polynesians who choose to be inked are making "a personal act of commitment to Polynesian culture," Joaquim said.
"Everyone can get a tattoo and put into it the meanings and beliefs that they want. This is no longer the choice of the community. Today, this is your choice. " This renaissance was part of a greater awakening of cultural identity, accompanied by a renewed interest in other practices like firewalking, chanting, and dance.This return to roots was largely spurred by scholars, researchers, and visual artists. Of note was the role played by Tavana Salmon, a former Waikiki nightclub owner, and Teve, a Marquesan dancer, who traveled to Germany in 1981 to research traditional tattoo designs.
- On their way back to Tahiti they stopped in Samoa, where the tattooing techniques of old still survived;
- In Samoa, they arranged for a tattoo artist to visit Tahiti to tattoo Tavana with Tahitian designs and give Teve a full-body Marquesan tattoo — using sketches from the journals of early Western explorers;
- Joaquim estimates that in Tahiti today, they are maybe four or five tattoo artists using the traditional method — sterilized, of course — which was reintroduced by Samoan artists;
- But not all Polynesians have embraced tattoos equally;
" Amid all this change, some Polynesian tattoo artists have begun to put a new spin on the ancient art. "Through different cultures sharing from around the Pacific, a fusion style has developed," Joaquim said."Today it is not rare to see Marquesan, Maori, Modern Tahitian, Hawaiian, and Samoan tattooing mixed into one tattoo. Some artists also use Japanese motifs, add colors or do anything else their mind can dream up. " The mix of people donning Polynesian ink has also diversified.
- "Tourism is the main industry here, and many visitors want to go home with an inked souvenir from their trip to the South Pacific," Perez said;
- "I reckon that helps Polynesian culture live on and tattoo artists know that;
"I grew up surrounded by tattooed people, in the street, at school, in offices, everywhere," Perez said. "I don't have the numbers, but I'd say that easily more than half the population is tattooed. " "Although I have almost half of my body tattooed, no one in Tahiti turns their head in the street or looks at them curiously," he added."It's more like no one notices them, since it's all too common here to have tattoos now.