The Maori people have been observing the tradition of tattooing for centuries. This form of art is part of the culture of the place and is still practiced today.
Who are the Maori?
The cultural identity of today's New Zealand is strongly influenced by Maori traditions. The Maori people arrived in New Zealand around the 13th century from Polynesia. This people is composed of several tribes and sub-tribes having emigrated. The differences between these tribes are not very great and all use the arts, dance and stories as a means of expression. Their language is their pride: they wear it tattooed on the body and it also has a very important place in their other activities. Few people understand this language, apart from the members of these indigenous tribes. In addition to their intricate tattoos, they are also known for their war dance, known as kappa haka. Maori are first and foremost warriors, and for centuries they were thought to have a particular warrior gene.
Maori body art
The art of the Maori tattoo is called Ta Moko. The Maori tattooing process does not use needles but sculpts the skin of tattooed people. The Maori people wear these marks on the face and on other parts of the body. The tattoo is done using a specific tool called UHI, to differentiate tattoos printed with needles.
Ta Moko is the symbol of Maori culture. It represents the commitment and pride of belonging to the culture of this people. The men of these tribes place these engravings on their faces, their buttocks and their thighs. Women wear them on the lips and chin.
The tattoo artist is known as tohunga and is an expert in the creation of Ta Moko. The ritual of Ta Moko is considered sacred in this culture and is known as tapu. Each drawing is unique and represents the inner being of the person, tattooed on his skin for all to see. These tattoos also show the genealogical origin, the status, the successes and the tribe to which this person belongs. Ta Moko has a deep cultural significance, unlike Kiri. It is not necessary to understand the meaning of these drawings.
What is the difference ?
Kiri Tuhi is also an art form based on the Maori tradition of Ta Moko. But a great difference of identity separates the first from the second, because the Kiri Tuhi is a form of art engraved by a non-Maori tattoo artist and is carried by a person not belonging to this people.
In summary, if the tattoo was not made by a Maori or was tattooed on the body of a person not of Maori origin, it is Kiri Tuhi. Kiri Tuhi is a popular art form that aims to share Maori truth and culture with the rest of the world.
What does Ta Moko mean for this people?
The word Moko itself can be translated as "blueprint". It is therefore the imprint of culture and whakapapa. Complicated history surrounds this tradition and are considered the sacred truth of the Maori people.
Ruamoko would have made the first tattoo / Maori markings while he was in the depths of Mother Earth, known in the culture of this people as Papatuanka. This movement in the depths symbolizes volcanic activity and earthquakes. This activity causes flaws, lines and marks on the skin of the earth.
In addition to this version of the very first Moko, there are various adaptations of this story. A Maori tattoo must be worn by someone born in the culture of that people and, if not done in a traditional way, it will not be a Maori / Ta Moo tattoo.
Maori art has inspired many tattoo designs around the world. Following the presence of films and cartoons inspired by Maori culture, many artists tattoo artists offer. Your tattoo may look exactly like a Moko, but for tattoo experts, it's important to understand that what really makes a Moko is the cultural and traditional element of tattooing.
Non-Maori tattoo artists must pay close attention to details and learn the true culture of the Maori people. Using the correct terminology and imagery is extremely important when you are writing a Maori tattoo. If you have a traditional maori tattoo, it's better to call it Kiri Tuhi.
To better understand the process and how to use these traditional patterns to create your own personal drawing, keep reading.
Kirituhiwa tells your story
The modern definition of Kiri Tuhi concerns body creations performed on the body and arms, while Ta Moko is linked to the marking of the face. Some fundamental elements for Maori inspired the current drawings.
Markings that look like lines on the skin, in maori tattoos, are known as Manoah. These lines are symbols of your life, your earthly journey and the time you spend on this planet. The term Manuah can literally be translated as "heart".
When the Manuah, the initial marking, is realized, one develops the Koru: features that look like shoots, like textures that would form on the skin. The Korus, as they are called, are New Zealand fern shoots. Korus are the people who are important to you and can therefore symbolize loved ones like your father, your father, your spouse or anyone you love.
The Kiri Tuhi uses details to create the individuality of the tattoo and adapt it to the wearer. If you're thinking of getting one done, it's best to know what each brand means and what the scar on your skin means to you.
There are several unique patterns in Maori body art. You can choose to build a complete story by using them.
It is a delicate design made of two parallel lines on the skin. Small triangles are added between these lines and connect them. In the Maori tradition, this pattern represents whale teeth.
This pattern is also composed of parallel lines placed on the body but these parallels go in pairs and vertical lines are drawn, connecting these double lines. This drawing represents a feat, a success in the physical field, the field of sports. The motif can also represent a new challenge expected by the tattooed person.
We find again the same double parallel lines. But the interior designs represent a succession of lying forms resembling contours of leaves of very oval shape. This pattern represents fish scales, which symbolize health and abundance of wealth.
Another drawing placed between two parallel double lines. The interior design is, this time, a geometric form representing the Taranaki, a region of New Zealand. This pattern is very much like the tail of a mackerel, which symbolizes prosperity in the Maori tradition.
As is the case for all other reasons, it is also placed between two parallel double lines. A triangular pattern (commonly referred to as "dog skin coat") is placed within these lines. It represents the warrior gene of the Maori people and is designed to represent the battles and wars to which the tattooed person has participated. It symbolizes the strength and courage of the wearer of the tattoo.