Clan Markings

Primitive peoples also used tattoos to create what are called clan markings. These marking came in handy during battle to identify foe from friend. These tattoos also guaranteed that you would be able to greet your friends again in heaven, after you had passed away.

Family and marriage tattoos were also clan markings that enabled spouses who were separated in death to find each other again in the afterworld. A good example of this is the ancient Ainu tribe who believed that a bride without a tattoo would go straight to Gehenna - their version of hell.

In the Americas, native tribes used simple pricking to tattoo their bodies or faces. In California some native groups injected color into the scratches. Some northern tribes living in and around the Arctic Circle (mostly Inuit) made punctures with a needle and ran a thread coated with soot through the skin. The South Pacific community would tap pigment into the pricked skin using a small rake-like instrument.

In New Zealand, the Maori would treat the body like a piece of wood in order to make their world-famous moko style tattoos. Using a small bone-cutting tool, they would carve intricate shallow grooves on the face and buttocks, and infuse them with color. Thanks to trading with Europeans, they were able to make the method more efficient by using metal tools instead of bone.

A "moko", meaning to strike or tap, is the long-standing art form of Maori tattooing. This art form has been practiced for over a thousand years, and has withstood time and colonization. It was used as a form of identification with regards to rank, genealogy, tribal history, eligibility to marry, beauty and virility.

Moko designs were finely chiseled into the skin. Maori women were traditionally only allowed to be tattooed on their lips, around the chin, and sometimes the nostrils. A woman with full blue lips was seen as very beautiful.

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