art of the Maori
, originally applied with bone chisel
s and comb
s. Nowadays, as the practice is coming back into 'fashion' as the Maori rediscover their identity as a people, modern tattooing equipment is also used. However many modern artists go back to the use of the old instrument
Each Ta Moko has a meaning, Kaupapa, that has to do with familial ties
or tribe affiliation
s, or even with the relationship of the wearer with Io Matua te Kore, the Great Creator. They also involve dreams and aspirations for the life of the wearer and that of his/her people.
Ta Moko can cover most of the body. The designs are typically complicated and abstract, consisting of swirl
s that follow the muscle
structure and body contours. Most noticeable are the facial Ta Moko, that cover the whole face for men, and the lower lip and chin for women.
Interesting fact: Commander Chakotay (Star Trek Voyager) wears a very modest version of a facial Ta Moko, to honour his ancestors. Strangely the official website claims his background is Mayan.