Ta Moko Maori tattoos: one of the most painful forms of tattooing
Getting a permanent tattoo can be a very painful process, regardless of the location on your body. Many choose to have a tattoo applied in less sensitive areas of the body because of how painful tattoo application often is. In some cultures, however, permanent tattoos are applied directly to the face–one of the most sensitive parts of the skin on the entire body.
Facial application of tattoo is called Moko Maori tattoos, or Ta Moko tattooing. This type of tattooing originated in New Zealand by various indigenous tribes. It was traditionally practiced by Polynesian cultures to mark certain ceremonies or monuments in a tribesmen’s life. Although primarily applied to men, female tribe members sometimes participated in the Moko Maori traditions as well, although typically not as extensively as the men did.
Many archaeologists believe that Moko Maori tattoos were applied using chisels rather than the traditional method; this left grooves in the face where the ink was applied. Applying a Moko Maori tattoo is still considered today one of the most painful types of tattoo to apply.
In eastern Polynesian cultures, the head was considered the most sacred part of the body, so Moko Maori tattooing would happen on the face. Usually, young boys reaching adolescence would begin the tradition of facial tattooing. Those who went without tattooing were seen as weak and of little social status.
Moko Maori tattoos are seen as a form of identity. Depending on your rank or level of authority, you receive certain designs. It also showed what tribe you belonged to or your family heritage. Today, Moko Maori body art still exists in some cultures, although not as extensively as it once did. Today it is used to honor ancestors and remember a disappearing culture.
Body Art Professional Organizations
Association for Professional Piercers is an international non-profit association dedicated to the dissemination of vital health and safety information related to body piercing to piercers, health care providers and the general public.
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