Tribes in New Zealand called Maori are known worldwide for their unique culture, traditions and, of course, tradition of body tattooing. Maori tatoo is more popular among men yet women from Maori tribes are used to get tattoos as well. The body art called Moko or in other words Maori tattooing derived from Polynesia and has much common with Polynesian tribal tattoos. Maori tribe is known for impressive body tattooing; as Maori consider head he most sacred part of body, they used to ink face with special symbols. Facial tattoos indicated social status and prestige of the wearer.
The process of body tattooing for Maori is a sacred ritual; it needs skills and professionalism of tattoo artist that is called tohunga. Plus, there are no two identical Maori tattoos and this requires professionalism as well. For tattooing artist uses knives instead of needles. For ink Maoris used natural coloring products.
There is a legend about the origin of ta moko. According to legend, Maori tattoo came from underworld. A young warrior named Mataora falls in love with the princess Niwareka of underworld. They marry, however, Mataora mistreats his wife and she returns to the underworld. Mataora follows her to bring Niwareka back. While being in the underworld he learns the art of ta moko and presents it to humans.
Maori tattoo is a complicated pattern where each symbol has its meaning. For some Maori tattoo may look like a chaotic combination of meaningless lines and symbols. Still, those who know the symbols can read tattoos and learn about the status of the wearer. Traditional Maori tattoo covers the whole body including face, shoulders, arms, chest, back and feet.