Maori tattoos are part of the culture of the indeigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Maori facial tattoos never cross the midline of the face and are tribal in design. Originally used to instill fear in invaders, it became a status symbol within the culture.
Maori woman. The permanent blue stain on a Maori woman’s tattooed mouth symbolized female beauty among her people in New Zealand. The personal facial tattoo, or moko, communicated her lineage, social position, and marriage eligibility. Photograph from Iles Photo/submitted by Chas J. Glidden, circa 1919