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Teacher of English
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For some people, the tattoo is an ornament, for others, a symbol carrying information about the man's life. For the Maori, who are living in the southern part of Oceania, the tattoos are a way of communication with the world.
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Maori are native people of New Zealand and they belong to numerous nationalities of Polynesia. The very name of the tribe ”maori“ means “ordinary, normal, natural”.
The people of Maori are still very devoted to their traditional tattoos – Moko.
The word “tattoo” in most of the Polynesian languages, ??means “scheme, image, picture”.
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Tattoos of Maori are one of the most distinctive in the world. The Maori culture of tattooing has history of thousands of years. It is one of the oldest tattooing styles in the world.
Maori tattoo designs are traditionally done in black ink and vary in size.
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In ancient Polynesia the tattoo was not just a decoration. These tattoos were man’s life's story, they could tell you about the person, his tribe, his main personal qualities, position in society and the most courageous deeds in life.
The tattoo on a forehead spoke about position of the person as soldier on a scale of ranks, drawings round eyes could tell everything about family affairs, cheeks spoke about a profession and a kind of activity, the area of a jaw and a chin — about the status at the birth. The images on the right part of the face bore information on genealogical mother, and images on the left — about the father.
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Male and female tattoo were very different. Maori women usually got tattoos on their back, neck, chin and lips. The main places for the male tattoos were the face, shoulders, legs, and buttocks. Today these types of tattoos are usually done on the arms.
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For Maori people applying a tattoo on the body was a sacred ritual. Each of the ornaments and figures had its own name and value.
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One of the most popular symbols of Maori tattoo is a spiral bark. It symbolizes the beginning of new life or a new phase of life, spirit of changes. The spiral will give you change, hope, harmony and personal growth.
A dolphin is a symbol of protection. They drove away the sharks gathering around tribe boats. Tattoos of dolphins represent freedom of spirit and unity of the person with the sea and the nature.
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Tattoos in Maori style are now popular among fans of tattoos all over the world. But you should remember one thing. The Maori believe that Moko can be applied only on the body of a Maori because the traditional Moko has a sacred status and applying it on the face and body of those who are not Maori, is regarded by the Maori as a crime.