Tribal tattoos are often generalized together as if they came from one big tribe. I’m sorry to say but that’s just not the case. It’s true that the different types of tribal tattoos did influence each other in various ways but for the sake of this article, we will be discussing one particular type of tribal tattoo which originated with the Maori tribe in New Zealand.
After getting fed up with all these lists floating around the web of so-called “Maori Tattoos”, which in fact turned out not to be Maori at all, I decided to put together a collection of tattoos that were of genuine Maori influence.
Maori style designs are usually what one thinks about when someone utters the words “Tribal Tattoo”. Their unique pattern of curved lines and almost paisley-like tails makes them easy to differentiate from some of the other more difficult to distinguish tribal tattoos associated with the Polynesian and Islander cultures.
The Maori tribe believed that their ink work, also known as Ta moko, or just moko, had a much deeper symbolism than just being a decorative design to look at. Maori tattoos were believed to contain deep ancestral messages specific to each bearer. Other things like social standing, tribal affiliation, and genealogy were all incorporated into each design.
In modern culture, most people choose to get Maori ink specifically for it’s aesthetic characteristics alone. Traditional Maori tattoos were most commonly done on the face, but in today’s society you’d be hard pressed to find a Maori facial tattoo on anyone but Mike Tyson outside of the tribe.
Let’s take a peek and some of the most unique and spectacular examples of Maori tattoos.
This act of total devotion
Like a boss. I think it’s safe to say that this guy is the Chairman, Vice President, and CEO of the Maori tribe.
This large back piece
One large warrior flanked by two smaller warrior designs.
This amazing full frontal mural
The swirling designs in the middle are particularly appealing. Two floral badges adorn the shoulders to bring the whole piece together.
These Maori tribal necklace tattoos
I’ve always been fascinated by these designs. Much more appealing than facial tattoos.
This black and red Maori tribal sleeve
The decision to add just a touch of color to the design paid off big time. There are a number of other neo-tribal tattoos out there that use this exact color scheme with similar results.
This leg medallion
The symmetry and technical detail of this tattoo is simply mid-blowing.
This beautiful belly button design
The overall design and execution of this piece is pure genius. It’s not so often that you see tribal tattoo designs that incorporate the belly button.
This Maori tribal flower tattoo
Although this is probably not something you’d see on a Maori warrior, there’s no denying the strong Maori influence seen in this design.
This V-shaped back tattoo
This hidden face
Lots of stuff going on here, but if you look closely you can see a brilliant face design hidden in the chaos.