Forehead Tattoos

If you have ever seen the distinctive Maori forehead tattoos designs, you already know how beautiful and dramatic that they are. Maori forehead tattoos designs are striking, but their meaning is not always readily understood. What do these permanent marks mean, and how are they interpreted? If you are curious about this type of design, there are a few facts that can get you started.

You’ll find that while smaller spirals might predominate the design, you can often step back and see them forming a larger pattern in general. Maori tattoo designs often cover the face, though they can be seen on any part of the body.

The legend about how tattooing came to the Maori concerns a love affair between a young man and a princess of the underworld, named Niwareka. After their marriage, the young man beat his wife, and she left, going back to the underworld. The young man suffered greatly to find his princess again and to apologize, but when he got to her father’s kingdom, his face was dirty and stained. Niwareka’s family mocked him for his appearance, but he persisted, begging his wife to return with him, and when she agreed, he was given the art of tattooing to take back with him.

In this way, every man could be given the treatment that was his due, and to treat someone who was tattooed in a way that was not in keeping with their rank, then a grave insult could be taken. Maori women were not as extensively tattooed as the men, though they might often evidence a tattoo on their chin, or under their lower lip.

A centrally located forehead tattoos indicated a person’s rank, while their birth status would be tattooed on their jaw. Their position could be tattooed around the eyebrows, while the area of the temples was reserved for their marital state. On either side of the face, a man’s ancestry was inscribed, with the left side generally being for the father, while the right side was for the mother’s family.

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