When Captain James Cook made his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769 he commented on the beauty of the markings.
'The marks in general are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance,' he said Pictured left: Head-and-shoulders portrait of a Maori, facing front, in native clothing, circa 1890s.
The ta moko was originally carved with bones creating a scarring on the skin and each marking was unique to the wearer Women show off their unique chin moko markings with each tattoo depicting the story of the wearer's family, their ancestral tribe and their position within that group.
The pictures are thought to date from around 1890 These long-haired Maori women are wearing Maori kiwi cloaks, tiki (greenstone ornaments), and are holding traditional weapons. Called a 'visual language', moko was and is still used for a variety of reasons, including courtship, status and marking the milestone of moving from childhood to adulthood Europeans were aware of ta moko when Captain James Cook made his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769.
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It was originally carved with bones creating a scarring on the skin and each ta moko was unique to the wearer.
Captain Cook commented on the beauty of the Maori's markings: 'The marks in general are spirals drawn with great nicety and even elegance.'However when the British colonised New Zealand in 1841, the ta moko was discouraged as a cultural form.