What Are the Meanings Behind Some of the Maori Tattoos?


Quick Answer

Traditional Maori tattoos, also known as "ta moko," signify the bearer's ancestry and social rank. In Maori culture, the act of being tattooed is a rite of passage. Since its revival as an art form, tattooing has also become a symbol of pride and cultural identity among the Maori.

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Full Answer

Maori tattoos are generally applied to the entire face on men. Women are usually only tattooed on the lips, chin and nostrils. On a man, the tattoos on the left side of the face show his ancestry on his father's side, while the right side shows his maternal genealogy. The tattoos on a man's forehead depict his social rank.

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