Ta moko the traditional Maori tattoos

Maori, the aborigines of New Zealand use Ta moko as the permanent body and facial markings. These symbols were specific to the wearer and contained messages from their ancestors.

These days the moko is more commonly worn on the body, but they were worn on the face by the tribal men and the women wore them on the chin and lips. Initially they were chiseled on the face which left the grooves on the skin instead of a plain look with the tattoo. The Maoris considered the face and the head as the most sacred part of the body hence they used to tattoo it with spiritual messages.

The engravings on the face of Maoris had considerably subsided by the 19th century giving way to the regular tattooing but the traditional tattooing for women went up to the 20th century. More and more people outside the tribe were being influenced and drawn towards this tribal art hence the Ta moko became popular.

If you too are outside the tribe and are smitten by the Ta moko we suggest you take guidance from the Maori tattoo artist to get your tattoo done. He/she will be able to comprehend the meaning of the design for you and suggest the apt design for your personality. They can even customize the design to suit your needs.


Image courtesy Pitt Rivers Museum

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