Thursday, October 24, 2002

Ta Moko

I love solid-black tattoos. Bold lines, solid fills. Like Maori tattoos. For the Maori, ta moko is a rich cultural practice and heritage. Originally carved into the skin (more akin to scarification), ta moko was, and is, much more than a simple tattoo - it's sacred. And they don't particularly like other people inking their history and mythology:

"Pakeha (whites) are distinctly known for not asking, [and] for assuming that how they see the world is [how] others do so also...[They] bastardize our spirituality and culture and claim it as theirs...Non-Maori wearing it as a form of body art are generally considered wannabees, fakes and frauds that show not only a disrespect for our culture, but lie about their own. (How can you respect your own family when you wear the family signature of strangers?) Even if non-Maori do it in a 'respectful' fashion (according to what their non-Maori values dictate is respectful), this is still rude. There is not, in other words, any sense of it being 'okay' for non-Maori to wear Maori Ta Moko."

Harsh. But fair enough. Admiration doesn't require imitation or submission. I'll keep my opinions on the "Modern Primitive" movement to myself for the time being, but as I look at my tattoos and think about the next one, my primary concern is coming up with a solid-black design that can be at home on my skin.


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