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What You Should know about maori Tattoo Designs

June 16th, 2010

 In this maori tattoo design article i am going to let you know a few things about Maori Tattoo Art and what you should try not do.

 This is important especially if you are looking at having a unique and great looking maori tattoo design

Maori Tribal Tattoos found here

 There are many mistakes people make when getting traditional maori tattoo designs and i hope that by the end of this article you will avoid the most common mistakes made by most people these days.

  These days with the ever growing popularity of tattoo art amongst all cultures through our increasing multi cultural society, traditional maori tattoo designs seem to be the choice of tattoo at the moment, almost like a fashion statement.

 In fact traditional maori tattoo designs are some of the most popular tattoo designs around and there’s a valid reason why traditional maori tattoo art is so popular in our current multi-cultural societies.

  In today’s world with so many tattoo artists and so many people looking to get tattoo art, you will find them going through and looking at other cultures in the hope of borrowing or worse of stealing other peoples designs to come up with their own tattoos. This can lead to artistic flair, but not so when choosing traditional maori tattoo designs .

 To understand traditional maori tattoo designs you need to understand traditional maori terminology. As you know if you were learning about science or any field there will be terms associated with that particular study and so it is with  traditional maori tattoo art. The ta moko is the name of the family identification of Maori that form part of the group known as whakapapa.

 The reason it is important for maoris to know their family history is important especially when they were waring amongst each other over the centuries and before their arrival of the shores of new zealand.

  There are still Maoris that can trace their history with these maori tattoos, some chiefs can look at a Maori tattoo design, read it like a book, they do this by feeling the texture, looking at the design and the precision that went into getting the tattoo and will be able to trace back some of these Maori family trees. There are designs that date back over a 2,000 year period in maori history, these chiefs have the skill and ability by looking at the design and are able to tell how far this tattoo dates back to or this particular design origins.

 What most people don’t realise when looking at a design is that they tell a story, though they look like a swirl or twirl to us, they actually tell a full story when you know how to read these tattoos.

  So you have learnt about the “ta” form of the maori language now its time to introduce the “moko” part, that is the important part as it involves the chiseling of the tattoo into the skin.

  So you think that getting a tattoo by today’s standards is painful, well traditionally the maori made deep cuts into the skin using brutal tools and yes also the bones of albatrosses, for the maori to be able to distinguish themselves from the other tribes they used the color of the ink to tell the family history and the patterns on the skin would then allow someone to interpret the family history of these patterns.

 What this would essentially do for some one, is that they would, if they were an elder be able to tell the history by looking at the design the moko and of course the patterning of the skin. There is a common misconception around the world thinking that maori tattoos in their original sense were only done on the faces, however this is not true, they were also done on peoples bodies, what this allowed them to do was distinguish their chiefs or leaders by having these markings on their faces

 There are so many people copying maori tattoo designs these days, many people think there is no harm in doing this, at first sight but is it really ok to steal other cultures identities?

One should never just take words, images or symbols from the maoritanga or Maori culture without knowing what they are doing, as to the Maori this is seen as an insult, can you imagine walking around with some maoris family history? One thing not to do is to go out into the world of maori tattoo designs and just start copying any design, this could lead to a situation of stealing some maoris family tree

  How would you like to know what maoris really think about other cultures and especially now the western cultures stealing their identity and culture?

  The word “pakeha” might not mean anything to you as a westerner however in the maoris language it is associated with negativity, those that never ask for anything and simply take…….

……….without asking! Wouldn’t you say that this sounds more like stealing someones culture? Well this is what the maori think of other people and especially the western world for taking their tattoos, they feel that not only did they loose their land but also now they are loosing their culture of tattoo designs

  One thing that is annoying many traditional maoris as mentioned, is the stealing of these tattoo designs and the reason that it is annoying them, is the fact that they foresee a day when the maori will have lost everything, they believe they have lost their land, now they are loosing something that makes the maori for who they are today, and that is the maori through their tattoo designs, they feel that this is the last thing to go in terms of spirituality before they have lost all to the west, which is quite sad as all cultures on earth are only bound as a culture through their individual rituals and unique flair such as tattoos in the maoris case.

  So how will this effect your decision when getting Tattoo Maori Designs?

  The safest thing for anyone like you to do is to perhaps look at a few designs for inspiration but try never ever to copy the design like it is on maoris in newZealand.

The quickest way to get a traditional maori tattoo design would be to contact someone in new zealand who is in charge of a tribe or a tribal tattoo artist and ask if the design that you are looking at is not someones design already, though this might seem dumb as mentioned we have to be sensitive to a culture that has shrunk over the last 200 years, with the internet this could be done in a matter of hours Maoris are really only annoyed when you just take, they might even grant you a special maori tattoo for asking, do you want to know how many people would actually ask for a design?

Not many! That’s right if you ask you will more likely be given the go ahead for a special maori tattoo design, this way it will be even more unique and you will have a one of a kind maori tattoo design that you can be proud of.

 

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