They are the tattoos of Maori, a tribe of New Zealand, that contain meaning and holiness rather than fashion and showing off. For Maori, tattooing is a parade. This was highly respected and ritualize over the years. Tattoo making usually began during adolescence. Maori tattoo artist is called “tohunga ta moko”, which means moko expert. These tattoo artist are highly respected, untouchable and sacred. Tohunga ta moko mostly consist of men. Maori tattoos are always quite complex and detailed, and the display the craftsmanship and art of not only the artist but also Maori culture. The Maoris usually make their tattoos on their faces to determine power, prestige and social status. The Maori made their tattoos using shark teeth and sharp bone tips as a needle. They used completely natural coal, caterpillars and some animal oils as dyes. Black paint made of burnt coal is exclusively for face tattoos, those made of insects or burnt gum were used for outlines and less respectable tattoos.
Maori tattoo art was first discovered in 1769 by Captain James Cook. The world tattoo comes from the native Tahitian word, Tautau. Having Maori tattoos at that time was a very painful experience. First, the skin is cut with deep cuts, the chisel is immersed in the pigment and the cuts are entered. Maori tattoo was a long and labor-intensive process in the early days. There were two designs for Maori tattoos. The normal design was based anly on the darkening of the lines, the second was based on darkening the backround and leaving the lines open. This was called Puhoro.
The focus of Maori tattoos is usually the face. Men had full face tattoos, while women only tattooed their chin, lips and nostrils. Only people with rank or status were allowed to get a tattoo. A person who does not have a high social status, such as a slave, cannot have a face tattoo. Maoiri face tattoo was not only seen as a rank sign, it was also used as a kind of ID card. For men, he would show his tattoo successes, positions, lineages, and marital status. Some Maoris also tattooed other parts of their body, such as their backs, hips and legs. Women are generally known for their tattoos on their arms, necks and things.