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Maori tattoos are traditional tattoos that have a great historical value, a solid artistic quality and a great cultural identity. They are truly unique tattoos and because of this, they have become a classic style that has crossed all borders. These are native to eastern Polynesia, New Zealand. And where they usually wear this style of tattoos, is in the arms and legs.
We call Maori an ethnic Polynesian woman known worldwide for her unmistakable war dance and her magnificent Maori tattoos with denomination of origin. But few know that in the past just two centuries ago they lived divided into tribes of aristocratic form but also practiced shamanism and were cannibal. This last one gives a little bit of fear, does not it?
First, it is important to know that there is no total security with respect to the symbolism of Polynesian tattoos, as there is no 100% accurate information about these Maori tattoos and for the most part, these are historical interpretations or assumptions. The different clans of Polynesia are very reserved in terms of the symbolism of their art, which has much to do with philosophical, religious and cultural issues.
There is a lot of information that is handled in the West that may contain errors, since the meaning of this unique style of tattoos has been misinterpreted on more than one occasion. For this reason it is that many of the Maori tattoos of the West, have been made only for aesthetic purposes without the deep weight that of a meaning to the artistic style they have chosen.
Maori influence on Maori tattoos
By knowing this information, you may find it a bit strange how many Maori tattoos we find and see in people on the street without any other transcendence than aesthetics, are more than we might think. And is that these aborigines of New Zealand have influenced both the designs of Maori tattoos, being the true pioneers in this beautiful art. In Polynesia, a special type of Maori tattoo is made, reserved only for a clan called “ta moko” that has even influenced modern tattoos. What is curious, right?
Tribal tattoos we know today would not have been possible without these traditional Polynesian tattoos, as they were quite influential in the style we now know as tribal. Usually, the Polynesians tattooed these designs on their faces and other parts of the body in order to symbolize their status in the tribe. There is a specific design for each part of the body. Nowadays many people decide to tattoo their face, a practice that also drinks from the Maori influence.
The design of the tattoos depends on the place where it is located, so the designs are usually always unique, and created to decorate and mark a part of the body in particular.
The Maori culture is quite complex and every corner hides a lot of symbolism: in some cases they are secret meanings that only clan members know, codes shared only among them. This is why it is almost impossible to make generalizations and to know everything about this culture, you have to travel there and know their cultural traditions to investigate deeply.
The inks used in Maori tattoos were the result of mixing certain natural elements such as burned wood, this is mainly used for tattoos on the face, also caterpillars infected with a fungus that were allowed to dry once they had rotted, then crushed to death. obtain a fine black powder that was combined with oils.
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