How to Design Your Own Maori Tattoo

Written by william mccoy
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The Maori of New Zealand are known for elaborate tattoos, each of which tells a story. Maori tattoos are recognisable for their smooth curves and spirals and are worn traditionally on the individual's face. Celebrities such as Mike Tyson are known for their Maori tattoos. Today, many Maori still wear facial tattoos, but this art is now more commonly worn on other parts of the body. To design your own, you'll need to work with someone who understands the meaning of various Maori designs.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Locate a tattoo artist who is familiar with traditional Maori tattoos. Some Maori tattoo artists have businesses online; you can have one create a tattoo design with you.

  2. 2

    Work with the artist to decide where you'd like to place the tattoo, as well as how it should look. Because traditional Maori tattoos were placed on the body as a formal rite of passage with great significance, the Maori people consider it an insult for non-Maoris to wear tattoos copying this form of art. However, if you work with a knowledgeable tattoo artist, he can create a tattoo in the Maori style that does not use exact, sacred Maori symbolism.

  3. 3

    Learn about traditional Maori art at the library and online to design your own tattoo without help. If honouring the traditions of the Maori people is important to you, sketch a tattoo that is similar to Maori design but not an exact replica. The tattoo should be predominantly black.

  4. 4

    Visit a tattoo shop where the artists are experienced in tattooing Maori-style designs and have the tattoo placed.

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