THE HISTORY OF TATTOO IS HARD TO RECOUNT EVENTHOUGH IT’S AN ANCESTRAL PRACTICE WE CAN’T PLACE IT’S ORIGIN.
A TATTOO SESSION WITH THE MAORIS
the word tattoo comes from “tatau” (samoa). This practice well spread in oceania is origanaly done with instruments made with humans bones (relics) or sharp bamboo. a mix of water and coal was used as pigment. like male birds with beatyfull feathers men would have started to adorne themselves before the women mainly to seduce them.
Each tattoo is unique. it depends on the social rank, sex and age of the individual who wears it. Like body adornments and scarifications tattoo marks the peculiarity of the person. so only the visible parts of the body are tattooed: when the polynesians of the tropical islands would not wear much clothes they would tattoo th ebody then when they moved to colder climat like new-zeland they wore much clothes and concentrated tattoos on their faces.
In melanesia, polynesia and micronesia the most tattooed design are the curves, concentric circles and spirals lines with points, suns and stars. The concentric circles seems to have arrived later in the history of tattoo and reaveled a decadend period in oceanian art; because circles coming from spirals are closed designs witjout the possibility to generate new designs. those desings are frequently found on houses, masks, staues, boats…they sometime underline the shape of the face or can also cover the whole body like in the marquise islands.
Warrior’s tattoos cover them from the knees to the waist. the creation of such a work can take two or three months, during wich the tattooee will have to bear great pain and so proves his courage. In the past tattoo would go along with initiation rites. fisrts periods, puberty and marriage were moment where the body was marked with corresponding tattoos, to show the evolution of the individual and it’s submission to new tabous.
Traditionaly in the maori culture, the head of the enemies were kept as trophy, using drying technic and then tattooed wich would increas their value.
marquisians brought the aesthetic function of tattoo to it’s climax. they keep unity of each work by making more complexe designs using the old ones, sculpted on tikis (statues representing the ancesters). those elaborated signs could have led to the creation of writting but the europeans imposed anew cultural orientation. On the contrary to the marquisians maoris are inspired by tiki’s symboles in their developement of tattoo art. But the technical and aesthetical refinement of their instruments shows the value they gave to the achievment of this adornments.
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