Maori are the first inhabitants of aotearoa the most widely known maori name for new zealand which means the land of the long white cloudtheir ancestors were the east polynesian people. Although many years have passed the tools and techniques of polynesian tattooing have changed very little.
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However even though these european mariners thought women with tattoos were unattractive they became interested in tattoos for themselves and even returned home with tattoos.
Traditional maori tattoos for women. They were hunters fishers and gardeners. It is done by pressing your nose on the nose of person you meet. There is an old maori belief stating that during hongi the ha or breath of life is exchanged and intermingled.
The maori have a traditional greeting known as hongi. In the past ta moko tattoos traditionally represented particular maori tribes but for those of different heritageancestry this is not the case. When someone with moko died often the head would be preserved.
Tattoo arts are common in the eastern polynesian homeland of maori and the traditional implements and methods employed were similar to those used in other parts of polynesia. For a very traditional design the skill of tattoo art was usually handed down through generations. This leaves the skin with textured grooves rather than the smooth surface of a normal tattoo.
In pre european maori culture many if not most high ranking persons received moko and those who went without them were seen as persons of lower social status. The brain and eyes were removed with all orifices sealed with flax fibre and gumthe head was then boiled or steamed in an oven before being smoked over an open fire and dried in the sun for several days. Both the men and women in the tribe would get tattooed and not merely for the look of it but for different purposes.
We take great pride in producing traditional maori tattoo art. Ta moko often referred to as maori tattoo is the traditional permanent marking of the body and face by maoribut ta moko is distinct from tattoo in that the skin is carved by uhi chisels instead of being punctured with needles. Click here for our old school tattoo gallery with 55 awesome old school tattoos including gypsy ship anchor pin up eagle and sailor jerry designs.
In fact the very art of tattooing is deeply embedded in the maori culture. A little light thrown on the maori culture will help you understand the significance and symbolism of these tattoo designs.
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