Tattoo Art among the Maori Essay
We are studying about the Maori people who are the indigenous Polynesians. These people are found in New Zealand. They arrived in new Zealand in voyages as settlers and later became residents. They were isolated by other people and eventually decided to do this type of special art for the beauty purposes which has given them a special identity.
The art as commonly known as ta moko, are permanent tattoos made on the body and the face. These tattoos are made on both sexes of the Maori people. The skin was skillfully decorated with different pictures obtained from the environment. Upon the completion of the curving process, the body was left with beautiful chisels that were appealing to the observers. The skin was left with beautiful grooves rather than the usual smooth skin that was not appealing to many people. This created uniqueness among the people.
Tattoos among the Maori people were considered as sacred. They were therefore very selective on the patterns that they drew as tattoos. They used bone chisels and knives to make the grooves. The ink that they used to decorate the grooves was made from an organism that was half vegetable and half caterpillar. The ink that was used to decorate the face was darker than that of other body parts. The major reason to this color difference was that the ink used on the face was made from special species of burned wood. This made the ink darker than the one made from the organism.
The major patterns that were used were known as spiral. The spiral patterns covered external body parts that include; face, legs and buttocks especially for the men. These were the areas that the patterns could be easily be seen by the observer. The buttocks were left uncovered because the tattoos appeared as clothes for the men. The women and young girls received tattoos on their lips, neck and the chin. The tattoos on the neck were occasionally depending on the type of attire being put on by the lady.
Maori tattooing was used in rituals such as marking the adolescent stage of the youths. This was done to celebrate the important occurrences in the life history of the adolescents. This included marking the rite of passage from childhood to adulthood through the middle of the two stages. On the other hand, according to the culture of the Maori people, possessing a tattoo marked a status one belonged in. If one lacked this kind of tattoo, then he or she was considered to be without any worthiness or status. The process of tattooing was a painful experience. Sharp objects were used to make the grooves. This experience was not only meant for decorative purposes but also to proof status, strength and courage among the men and women of Maori. Women on the other hand were not tattooed painfully as men. The reason for this was that they needed not to proof the values mentioned earlier. Rituals attributed to music, chat and fasting were proved through tattooing. Among these rituals, fasting was more emphasized because one could swell on the face hence making him or her unable to eat or drink anything. These were some of the rituals done through tattooing.
Tattoos had a lot of purposes traditionally. They symbolized status and position. The tattoos were won by blue blooded people and their heirs. This marked their status. In New Zealand among the Maori people, there were tattoos that were special for the royal family and their lineage. The tattoos also symbolized spiritual and religious devotion as already discussed. Medal to prove courage was also the major purpose of the putting tattoos. On the other hand, tattoos were used as punishments. Captives who were exiled or captured for their criminal activities were given some tattoos for their identification. This could shame them and give warning to other criminals because of the torture and discrimination they received.
Practically, tattoos have the purpose of creating false impressions. This is useful for bald people because they are able to put some marks that resemble hair. Tattoos on the other hand save on the cost of putting make up and removing the makeup. The tattoos tend to be long lasting as compared to the makeup that are temporal and needs to be replaced daily. Putting a tattoo is a painful experience but is experienced only once and thereafter pain is relieved. This actually sounds practical for the people who believe in the beauty of their own kind.
In the western culture, tattoos are commonly used by musicians and other professionals such as footballers especially in the English premier league games. This is for decorative purposes and also for status. Tattoos are also used in medical quaters. This is an instrument used in radiotherapy and also in some forms of breast reconstruction in women especially with those with complications of breast cancer. This shows that the tattoo aspect has been adopted by almost all cultures in the world.
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