vintage, nostalgia and memories


July 11, 2017

Moko Kauae: 30 Incredible Portraits of Maori Women With Their Tradition Chin Tattoos from the Early 20th Century

For New Zealand Maori women, the moko kauae, or traditional female chin tattoo, is considered a physical manifestation of their true identity.

It is believed every Maori woman wears a moko on the inside, close to their heart; when they are ready, the tattoo artist simply brings it out to the surface.

The Maori are indigenous people that originated in New Zealand. They have a form of body art, known as moko but more commonly referred to as Maori tattooing. The art form was brought to the Maori from Polynesia and is considered highly sacred.

Since the Maori people consider the head to be the most sacred part of the body, the most popular kind of Maori tattoo was the facial tattoo, which was composed of curved shapes and spiral like patterns. Often this tattoo covered the whole face and was a symbol of rank, social status, power and prestige.


For Maori, tattooing was (and for some, still is) a rite of passage, which meant it was highly revered and ritualised. The tattooing would begin usually during adolescence.

The great thing about Maori tattoos is that to this day, no two tattoos are alike. Maori tattoos are one of a kind. They are always highly intricate and detailed and display the craftsmanship and artistry of not only the artist but of the Maori culture.

































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