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Name: Professor’s Date: Course: Date: Moko and the Culture of the Maori of New Zealand The moko, also called Ta moko, is a permanent body marking among the people of the Maori of New Zealand. The moko is a form of tattoo, the only distinguishing factor being that the moko forms crevices on the skin…
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Download file to see previous pages The moko symbolized several things. It created tribal identity for in individual and showed genealogy. Moreover, the art form showed an individual’s rank and status in society, with those having the mark considered to have a higher social status than those that did not. The moko marked the stage an individual was at in their life. It marked the transition of an individual from childhood to adulthood. In addition, some forms of the mark showed when an individual became eligible for marriage. The moko was a sacred abject highly valued by the Maori people. In recent times, the people in the rest of the world take interest in the moko with some opting to get the mark. However, the use of moko by the non-Maori in many ways alter the meaning and true function of the mark. One thing that stands out about the Maori culture from the moko is that status ranked importantly in society. Individuals interacted based on their status. Those who ranked lowly in the community worked hard to acquire some form of status. All through, the moko showed an individual’s status depending on the pattern that came with the mark. Several tattoos were unique to the women that were set aside as a result of their high rank in society. A partial facial moko signified a woman of such high rank in society that never married or got children as finding a mate to match her lineage status became impossible. (Simmons 87) Among men, tattoos on the right side of the face were a symbol of paternal lineage and rank; and showed whether this rank was hereditary or acquired. The left side face had markings showing the lineage and status an individual acquired from their side of the mother. Bravery gave an individual status in society. Warriors that performed exemplary well in war got a moko to show to everyone that met them of their bravery. (Durie 305) Such marks earned them respect and admiration from the society, and in turn added to their social status. The social structure of the Maori gave the first born sons a higher social status than that of lower born sons. These first born sons were the only one eligible to become leaders and chiefs. A special moko symbolized this status. However, lower born sons got a chance to achieve status by showing acts of bravery and kindness. Therefore, many used warfare as a chance to buy social status and get a tattoo showing they had rank. Leaders in Maori culture used Moko to symbolize their status. The type of moko showed the rank of a chief. The tattoo on a high ranking chief in the society was so unique that people who saw it immediately linked the individual with the mark with chiefdom and immediately accorded them the respect that came with that mark. Maori chiefs included their moko marks as signs on legal documents such as letters and title deeds. Any document bearing such a mark gained political recognition as validated by the chief; therefore asserting it eligibility. The Maori culture shows through the moko that it was highly stratified along gender lines. The moko on men and women had significant differences. In addition, the marks on men bore different meanings than those done on women. Many times, the moko on women revolved around their eligibility to marry, whom to marry and what status they had in society. On the other hand, the moko among men predominantly showed rank, superiority and bravery. Only men had mokos symbolizing political leadership such as the marks of chiefs. However, marks on women ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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