Friday, July 22, 2005

Ta Moko

"Ta moko, meaning to strike or tap, is the long-standing art form of Maori tattooing. This art form has been practiced for over a thousand years, and has withstood time and colonization. It was used as a form of identification, rank, genealogy, tribal history, eligibility to marry, and marks of beauty and/or ferocity.


a painting of Ena Te Papatahi by Charles Goldie
"Ta moko designs weren't merely tattooed upon their wearers; they were finely chiseled into the skin. The art preceded wood carvings, so accordingly the first wood carvings copied moko designs. Ta moko are most recognizably done on the face, although other parts of the body are also tattooed.

"Women were traditionally only allowed to be tattooed on their lips, around the chin, and sometimes the nostrils. A woman with full blue lips was seen as the "epitome of Maori female beauty."

"Men, on the other hand, were allowed to have a full facial moko. However not all men were permitted to have their entire faces tattooed."

from Heather Dill: What is ta moko?
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