For the Maori, who are indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, tattooing holds a sacred significance to them. Their permanent body and face markings called moko, was an important milestone between childhood and adulthood. Today the style of Maori tattoos are becoming more popular because of the intricate curved shapes and spirals that make these some of the most creative designs to be had.
Tattoos of the Maori would be full face designs, as the head was considered the most sacred part of the body. Warriors would also sometimes have swirl tattoos on their buttocks and down their legs to the knees. Instead of needles the Maori used knives and chisels and the ink was applied by means of incisions. At puberty is when a young man would get his first tattoo, and then more would come to celebrate important events in his life such as rites of passage and to make himself more attractive to women. Enduring these painful tattoos was a sign of status, strength and courage. Tattooing was a very important Maori ritual that would include music, chant and fasting. Women were tattooed less frequently than men and their tattoos would usually be on the lips, chin or shoulders.
For the Maori, each pattern of their tattoo is a symbol of personal identification showing their rank, status and ancestry. If you are interested in this type of tattoo, you should never copy their designs. If you desire to have a Maori style design, you should find a tattoo artist that has experience with these types of tattoos and he or she can design one for you that doesn't have the symbolic meanings that are sacred to the Maori.
Today popular locations for a Maori tattoo is the arm, the top of the shoulder and down the arm, legs, the occasional buttock, on the back, and lower back for women. However some people do choose to have Maori designs on their chins and faces.