Maori Tattooing Practices

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The Maoris of New Zealand had several art forms that were distinctive to their culture. These art forms included woodcarving, cloak weaving, and tattooing. The most unusual of these crafts was the tattooing, which they traditionally placed on their faces, thighs, and buttocks. They tattooed by dipping a sharpened piece of bone into pigment, which was then tapped, on the area of skin to be tattooed, with a mallet. This art form was practiced universally …

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…what it has evolved into today. One Maori man, who choose to have ta moko be inked onto his face said what these tattoos meant to him and he said, " 'My moko is my book to my generations, and they read it, not to forget their roots' " (Iti, Turei, MacDOnald, & Neleman, 1999). This is a small part of ancient Maori culture, but it is a large part of what they left behind for their ancestors.