Maori tattoos in ethnic Polynesians – History and News

Tattooing has always been a means of expression of human beings, the most ancient cultures have used it as a method to define hierarchies, ethnic groups, cultural affiliations or as a demonstration of devotion to their beliefs. One of these guys are Polynesians Tattoos and more specifically Maori Tattoos. Today I’ll be talking to them about their history, their present, some good examples and more.

Geographical location of the Polynesians Tattoos

tatuajes-polinesias-mapTo understand the works, it is important to place ourselves in time and space of their creations. Polynesia (Greek: “Many islands”) is the region that lies between Australia and the continent of America, exactly in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean and consists of over 1,000 islands, the largest and mentioned are the Islands Hawaii, Phoenix, Cook, Easter, among others. All tattoos that come from this region could be defined as Polynesian tattoos.

Maori is an ethnic group within the ethnic groups of Polynesia, which has managed to have a majority number of members and have managed to inhabit a number of islands. Within their culture we can find what many call the Maori tattoos, which are a subset of the Polynesian tattoos.

The Maori Tattoos and their culture

Maori populated the region on the X and XIV centuries, expanding their culture with great force. Being geographically so far from other regions, their culture was formed on the basis of unique features and deep meanings. Among the most characteristic features is the use of tattoos, which in their language is defined as “moko” or “ta moko”.

According to some researchers, Maori tattoos and moko, began to perform to show hierarchy within settlements (these are the Enata tattoos), could be for religious reasons and even for military reasons, as a sign of being a great warrior (these they are the Etua). Also, some women chin tattoo themselves as a symbol that they are committed to a warrior. The body parts are beginning to cover, the most visible preferred, such as the arms, chest, back and basically the face, which could be covered completely.

Among the technical elements is important to recognize that not using needles as today, their technique is based on the use of bones of albatrosses, which are the family of seabirds large, say relatives of gulls, but much bigger. The bones of these birds, very sharp, are the working method, therefore, are very painful processes and involve great capacity for sacrifice.


The meanings are unique, like their jobs, are said to try to tell the personal story and experiences in each maorie tattoo design. Where each shape or line is a single message. That is why there have been and there are a number of designs. Then I show a short video of how these jobs are done.

Today Maori Tattoos or Polynesians Tattoos

I wanted to title this part with the two types of tattoos because currently it is very confusing terms. After the introduction of tribal tattoos in fashion, he began a discovery of Polynesian tattoos and its adoption as an aesthetic element. Since its symmetrical and meanings combination, many followers of these works.

Men become fond of Maori tattoos on the arms, the upper back, chest or biceps. In the case of women, much like in the back, hips, legs and hands. Remember his closeness in design to the henna tattoos.


Of these elements, if I want to convey a very important warning. Never copy maorie designing a tattoo. Due to the cultural impact and their meanings, you could be sending a message that is not according to your personality is like people who are tattooed Chinese letters without knowing they say. I recommend you based on your tastes, as their own.


Specialists tattooists this trend, generally from the region or close descendants can differentiate the moko designs contemporary designs Maori tattoos, their shapes and lines. I suggest also consult one of these specialists when deciding on one of these designs.

Here I show you a number of good examples to inspire a bit.

Maori Tattoos on Celebrities

Absolutely no one escapes trends tattoos, whether for fashion, aesthetic or sentimental affiliation, but always have famous fans of Polynesian tattoos in general. Now I show you some.


One of the most famous tattoos Maori is showing us every film or performance american actor Dwayne Johnson. In this case we understand to be in honor of his mother, who comes from the Polynesian culture. This work is immense and impressive.


The legendary boxer Mike Tyson also has maori descent, which is why we decided to get tattooed similar to tribal moko on his face, around his left eye.


During a trip to New Zealand, the famous singer Rihanna became a maorie tattoo on his right hand. According to some sources, its meaning is based on the strength and love. The truth is subjected to the traditional techniques of moko.

There are other Maori tattoo fans as musicians Ben Harper or Robbie Williams, who did not want to stay behind in trends.

But if you still want more tattoos to delight, I agree with others and in the end I leave a recommendation.

For those who wish to deepen

If you want to go deeper into the knowledge of culture and Maori tattoos, I recommend the book “Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo” of Dr Ngahuia Te Awekotuku. This author is a specialist singular subject, which has published several articles about it.

I can also recommend “Maori Tattoing (Dover Pictorial Archives)” author H. G. Robley, which is a 2004 edition and is very economical.

And if you want to know more about the culture of the Maoris and have a Kindle, I recommend this book: “MAORI RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY : History of Maori traditions life, and cultures base on ancient Maori religion (Annotate and Illustrated) (English Edition)” of Edward Shortland.