03 April 2010

Maori Tattoos: The Legend

The precise history of the Maori tattoo is rather vague, but we do know the legendary source. According to legend, ta moko came from the underworld:

Te Puni Maori Chief
When Mataora, a young warrior, fell in love with Niwareka, the princess of the underworld, she agreed to come aboveground to marry him. When he mistreated her, however, Niwareka went back to her father’s kingdom.

Eventually, sick with guilt and with his face paint smudged, Mataora made his way down to the underworld to try to win her back. He succeeded, and Niwareka’s father taught him the art of Maori tribe tattooing as well! Mataora brought ta moko – Maori tattoos - as well as other skills he had picked up in the underworld, back with him, and the ideas caught on.

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