Maori Gallery

This tattooing instrument (uhi) is known as a uhi matarau because instead of having one blade there are several pointed blades. This uhi was used to insert pigment under someone's skin. The artist would dip the multi-pointed bone in ink and then use what is known as the tapping method to make the ta moko (tattoo). This instrument is made of wood, bone, and muka fibre (harakeke). It is currently located in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
This wood carving shows a full moko (Maori tattoo) with the exception of one half of the forehead and cleft. Mother-of-pearl shell is used to imitate the teeth of the figure. Having the tattoo present in this carving shows how significant the ta moko is to the Maori people and their culture.
This ipu ngarahu (pigment container) held specialist inks that were used to create a ta moko (tattoo). This ipu ngarahu (pigment container) is made of wood that was then finely carved with two figures on opposite sides with rauru spirals and carved hands. Traditionally, awheto (a vegetable caterpillar) was burnt in an ahi kauri (tattooing fire). Then the awe (ashes/soot) was mixed with water, fish oil, or resin from a hinau tree, mahoe, poroporo, and other plants. All of the ingredients were then kneaded to form kauri (small balls). The ngarahu (pigment) that came from the caterpillars were used for tattooing on the body. Pukepoto (dark blue clay) was mixed with resins to make a blue pigment that was applied to the face.
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