Maori Tattoos

Maori Tattoos are amongst the most unique tattoo designs and most advanced skin art designs in the world. Maori Tattoo design (Ta Moko) clearly has it’s own distinct identity within the various other types of Polynesian Tattoos.

Historically, tattooing was considered a sacred art among the Maori people of New Zealand and probably originated in the East Polynesian Islands.

Maori art consists of curved shapes & spirals in intricate patterns and has deep spiritual meanings of cultural significance.

Traditional Maori tattooing was known as “Ta Moko” and was carved into the skin with bone chisels (uhi) or knives using a ‘tapping’ method of application.

The ink for the body was made from an organism that is half vegetable, half caterpillar (the caterpillar is infected by a certain type of fungus that starts growing out of its head, killing the caterpillar). The ink for the face was darker (black) and was made of burned wood.

Most often the Tattoo designs consisted of bold spiral patterns covering the face, buttocks and legs of Maori men. The women normally received tattoos on the lips, chin and on some occasions they were applied to the neck and back.

Over the last 20 years, Maori Tattoo has had an explosive resurge where many famous musicians (Robbie Williams, Ben Harper) have chosen to brand themselves with this Art form alongside high profile sports people (Mike Tyson, New Zealand All Black Rugby players etc).

With this in mind, Maori tattoo design is also one of Zealand’s key areas of specialisation. Personally, Zane believes Maori tattoo design is one of the best ‘Tribal’ Art styles in the world. Compare the form and features of Maori Art against the likes of Borneo Tribal markings, Inuit Indian markings, Buddhist Scriptural Tattoos, Aztec designs, Aboriginal markings and African scarifications.

None of the aforementioned tribal or native styles are flowing like Maori tattoo design and overall Maori art is more ergonomical to fit the body shape. Of all art styles, Maori tattoo design can be the most likened to Oriental tattoo design given it’s body form fitting sculptured shape and patterns, such as Japanese ‘Koruing’ clouds.

View our Maori Tattoo Gallery here