What Do Maori Tattoos Mean

Maori tattoos, known as tā moko, have a long and important role in Maori culture. The tattooing process is steeped in symbolism, spiritual significance and cultural meaning. For Maori, getting a moko is an expression of identity and pride in one’s ancestry. Tā moko represent status and power within Maori culture and community, as well as a bearer’s genealogy. In this way, the tattoo can be seen as part of a larger cultural narrative and regalia for a particular individual. They also depict the wearer’s life journey and how they came to be in the present. The design of a moko often has a personal and intimate meaning that is based on the wearer’s life story and cultural heritage. In this way, moko are an artistic expression of a person’s identity, spiritual heritage, and cultural participation.

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