Are they not tribal? Is the trend from the 90s back?

Not at all! Maori tattoos are not so unlike the tribal patterns, but they have an incredible amount of history and are firmly anchored in the New Zealand Maori culture. Meanwhile, the Maori drawings are a tattoo trend worldwide.

The origins of the tattoo trend

For the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, the tattoos with the broad lines and clear patterns are closely rooted in their culture. Tattooing is part of a ritual that rarely uses templates. Each tattoo is individually engraved and adapted to the tattoo’s history. Most are the tattoos on the upper arms, back, calves and face. The stinging is traditionally quite painful. Deep incisions are made in the skin, which are then tapped into the resulting cracks with color pigments of, for example, fish oil. Ouch!

That’s what the Maori Tattoos mean

While for us a tattoo often has a purely aesthetic meaning, the tattoos for the Maori symbolize important aspects of life. Togetherness, culture, heritage or spirituality are all mapped on the bodies of the New Zealand people. Often the tattoos also reflect the success story of the person. The more tattoos, the more life goals she has achieved.

These symbols are used

Each symbol has its own meaning and says something about the person who wears it. Depending on your personality or story, the following symbols are tattooed:

The wave

The ocean and the sea are an important part of their culture for the Maori people. Therefore, there are also many versions of wavy tattoos in the Maori culture. The wave is to symbolize the ups and downs of life.

The Marquesas Cross

The Marquesas cross is reminiscent of the shell of a turtle. It is meant to express harmony and symbolizes the balance of the elements.

The manta ray

Assertiveness and strength are those who choose this tattoo. Especially on the back this tattoo is a real eye-catcher.

The Hei Tiki

A tilted head, big eyes and an open mouth: This ornament is a lucky charm in the culture of the Maori. Fertility, strength, loyalty and wisdom are represented with this tattoo.

The lizard

It is considered in the Maori culture as powerful and should bring good luck. According to the Maori, the lizard should enable communication between humans and gods.

The turtle

A particularly popular motif is the turtle. It is considered mystical and stands for fertility and a long life.

Shark teeth and spearheads

Differently thick lines and the different alignments of these lines make up the Maori tattoos. For example, a series of triangles is supposed to represent shark teeth – again a reference to the ocean. Even spiked spearheads are a common motif and should represent the fighting spirit of the Maori.

The Koru Tattoo

A spiral of even patterns that stands for new beginnings and harmony.

The fishing hook

… also called Hei Matau, stands for luck and a safe crossing of the water.