Covering a very large triangular area in the central and southern parts of the Pacific Ocean, and stretching from New Zealand to Hawaii and Easter Island, this vast oceanic region is depicted as the Polynesian Triangle which made up of at least one thousand islands. The word Polynesia is derived from the Greek language. Poly (πολύ ) means “a lot,” and nesos (νησος) means “isles” or “islands”. The Pacific islanders speak a similar mother tongue which is originated from the proto-Austronesian language. They also share the same traditions, religion, arts, and knowledge.
Some major ethnic groups residing in these areas are the Native Hawaiians, Maori of New Zealand, French Polynesian, Tonga of Cook Islands, Samoa, Marquesas, and etc. Their arts consist of various unique circles, spirals, curves and lines that make the artworks so attractive and pretty. Some of the remarkable and creative works of arts can be seen through the popular Samoan, Hawaiian and Maori tattoo designs.
The Maori tribesman who is the native of New Zealand is well-known for their Ta Moko. It refers to a tattooing process, or carving of skin on face and body using an “uhi” or bone chisel by a tohunga, or a priest during rituals and ceremonies. This inking method is quite different from the present-day tattoo which is created using needles. Rough grooves are formed on the skin using this traditionally method.
The traditional Maori designs are embedded with various attributes of the tribes. The Moko arts are marked on the body of those who are prominent and with social standing. Tattooing is sacred to the tribesmen, and it helps to convey their ancestry, social status, family ranking and identity. In some cases it is also used as a divine symbol. When a person has grown up to be an adult, he would be given the specific Moko rank to mark his new social status. To the Pacific islanders, tattooing is a way to connect themselves with their heritage and to recognize a person to be a warrior.
The table below explains eight locations on the face that has different significance for inking Maori Moko.
Today, many non-Polynesian are amazed by the remarkable Moko arts. If you think that the tattoo is cool and pretty, you can avoid picking those designs that carried the attributes and representation of the Maori cultures. It is advisable to research the cultural significance behind those designs and learn the significance of the Maori tattoo meanings.
While Polynesian tattoos offer a unique style to the wearer, they certainly look great when placed on the shoulders, arms, and chest. With beautiful black curving lines, spirals and circles, the Maori symbols are certainly a popular choice for many people today. While the Moko looks different from one tribe to another, the design can be creative and focus on the aesthetic beauty rather than the cultural importance.