Tattoo Designs

17 Amazing Maori Tattoo Designs And Their Meanings

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Tattoos are the best form of expressing one’s culture and identity using body art. Maori tattoos are one of the widely practised patterns by many tattoo artists all over the world. Maoris are a group of tribal originated in the country of New Zealand. In the year 1769, Captain James Cook along with the naturalist first saw the Maori tattoos while they were on a voyage to the South Pacific. They were really fascinated with the intricate designs and were quite intrigued by it. The fascination continues as people in modern times still continue to wear them. In this article, we shall explore some amazing Maori tattoo designs for some tattoo inspiration.

History and Significance of Maori Tattoos:

Maori tattoos are called Ta Moko in the native language. They were considered to be symbols of strength, power and valour. The number of tattoos inked spoke for the person’s achievements and status in his community. Maori tattoos were also used as a reminder of responsibilities towards their people and it was considered to be a great privilege to get a tattoo inked. Both men and women used to get these tattoos done. While men used to get the inking done on areas like face and buttocks, women tattoos were done on chin, lips and shoulders. The original Maori tattoos were done using the bones of Albatross birds using a permanent pigmented ink from the Carui gum and other roots, mixed with oil. Read on to explore some of the best Maori tattoos images.

maori tattoo designs

Best Maori Tattoo Designs and Meanings With Images:

Some of the best Maori tattoo meanings and symbols have been listed in the following paragraphs.

1. Maori Chest Tattoo Design:

Maori tattoos are very smart to look at and it looks even smarter when it is done to cover a portion of the chest. This is one of the Maori tattoos for men and is a miscellaneous combination of a number of Maori symbols and signs such as Celtic signs and knots, the human symbol, parts of arrows and much more worked out in such a great way. The tattoo also has touches of red along with the normal black which makes it look very bright and another thing is that this tattoo does not cover the whole chest but just the upper line of it.

  • Best for: This Maori tattoo designs is best suited for men who have warrior qualities and wish to fight their way out to get on to the top
  • Preferable ink: This tattoo is best done in black ink color with hints of brown ink
  • Where: This lovely patterned tattoo starts from below the neck line to the upper chest and is made up of various geometric patterns
  • Size: These types of tattoos are made using a group of small patterns to form a large tattoo design
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for wheat skin to fair skin tone.

2. Marquesas Cross Maori Tattoo Design On Foot:

Marquesan Cross Maori Tattoo

The Marquesas Cross is a popular Maori symbol. It carries great significance and tries to identify the balance between elements and harmony. Some archaeological studies also say that the cross is connected to the turtle shell. However, we must not overlook the beauty of this tattoo. It really looks stunning on the skin and gives you an ethnic and traditional look. This is one of the best Maori tattoos for females.

  • Best for: This is a delicate Maori tattoo for women due to its size and simplicity. The cross represents the zeal to achieve harmony and happiness in life.
  • Preferable ink: This tattoo is preferably done in black color
  • Where: This lovely tattoo is best done on the foot, but you can also get them done on your hands and neck.
  • Size: Small and medium sized tattoos look perfect for these designs
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for light and fair skin tones.

3. Leg Maori Tattoo Designs For Boys:

Maori tattoos are the best form of tribal designs and the best Maori tattoo designs need no particular space to be inked on. These tattoos indicate physical strength and achievements. They are made with a number of geometric patterns created in a symmetrical format to indicate balance and harmony. Common patterns include weapons, talent in a particular sport, prosperity or health. This is one of the best Maori tattoo designs.

  • Best for: Maori leg tattoos are perfect for men with athletic legs. They are made using complex, elaborate patterns to indicate physical strength and courage.
  • Preferable ink: The tattoos are preferably done in black ink to make the patterns come alive
  • Where: These types of patterns are done on the back of the legs to represent physical strength
  • Size: You can opt for medium to large sized tattoo designs for maximum coverage
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for light and fair skin tones.

4. Mid- Length Maori Tattoo Designs:

If you are looking for Maori tattoo ideas, this is one of the best patterns.This particular tattoo is a microscopic view of the Maori society. It is made using elaborate patterns of the tents, the people and represents their way of life. These tattoos are usually preferred by people who understand the Maori’s way of living and take immense pride in their roots. Tattoos of such patterns are quite complex and difficult to achieve due to the intricacies of details and the perfection with which the symmetry needs to be achieved,

  • Best for: These types of Maori tattoo patterns are preferably done by Men of good strength and age. They are a reminder of the all the sacrifices and deeds done by their ancestors.
  • Preferable ink: Maori tattoos are usually done in black or dark green colored inks
  • Where: Get them done on your biceps and arms to flaunt these amazing tattoos
  • Size: You can choose a medium or a large sized tattoo design depending on the surface area.
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for medium to fair skin tones.

5. Human Symbol Half Sleeve Maori Tattoo:

Human Symbol Maori Tattoo

“Enata” is a Polynesian word which means humans or God. It represents life, birth and experiences. Sometimes it is also used to express relationships such as marriage, friends and relatives. However a reversed enata could symbolize the presence of an enemy. Different designs and choices are available for those who would want one specific tattoo design.

  • Best for: Enata tattoos are ideally done by men to represent their relationships with their family and friends. These are very complex designs and must be done with care.
  • Preferable ink: Black is the best suited colored ink for such type of tattoos
  • Where: These tattoos are best done on arms and biceps. These Maori forearm tattoo designs also can be on chest.
  • Size: A large sized tattoo design best captures the details of these tattoo patterns
  • Skin tone: This is best suited for medium to fair skin tones.

6. Girls Maori Tattoo Designs On Thigh:

It is not at all true that tribal and Maori designs are only meant for men because women are doing it in great style and absolutely loving them to the core. Suppose we talk about this kind of Maori tattoo designs we will be able to see how a woman is flaunting her thigh tattoo in style.It is a combination of red and black and the Celtic patterns along with slight floral touches is making it look so beautiful and attractive. So the girls and ladies out there come out of the box and try something new. Try one of these very stylish Maori designs the next time!

  • Best for: This lovely Maori tattoo is custom made for women who wish for good health and happiness. They are made using attractive patterns to symbolise female beauty.
  • Preferable ink: These exquisite patterns are created using black and red colored inks
  • Where: Thighs are the best spots for these tattoos. You can also get them on shoulders or even as arm bands.
  • Size: Depending on the placement area, you can choose from a medium to a large sized tattoo.
  • Skin tone: These designs suit medium to fair skin tones.

7. Lizard Maori Tattoo Designs On Back And Chest:

Lizard Maori Tattoo

In Polynesian culture, lizards or geckos represent a God like figure. It is a very important part of Polynesian beliefs and ideals. They are known to guard all kinds of diseases and misfortunes and delivering people from enemies. The lizard tattoos are indeed very unique and creative in appearance. They are usually done on the upper parts of the body to indicate respect for the animal.

  • Best for: These tattoos are ideally done by men, who wish to safeguard their families and closed ones from enemies.
  • Preferable ink: Gecko tattoos are best done in black color or even brown inks
  • Where: They are done on the back or on the chest area to show their respect and honour to the humble animal
  • Size: You can opt for a medium to large sized tattoo depending on where you wish to get it placed
  • Skin tone: These designs suit light to fair skin tones.

8. Full Body Maori Tattoos:

If we talk about extremely traditional Maori tattoos then full body designs sound very common. This is because for tribal people, body art is a very good way to flaunt their culture and it is very surprising if you see the sense of art which they possess in spite of staying in such wild regions where nothing and almost not a single sign of civilization has reached as yet. This tattoo is a good example of fantastic body art where it is like a whole story which people can see on your body and it is definitely a challenge for tattoo artists to get this in proper place.

  • Best for: Full body tattoos are best done on men who are bold and are strongly connected to their roots. They used their bodies as canvas to narrate the story of the Maori culture
  • Preferable ink: Full body tattoos are best done in black, with hints of color to highlight.
  • Where: As the name indicates, these tattoos are done all over the body
  • Size: As it is a full body tattoo, the size doesn’t matter. A cluster of small patterns are used to ensure maximum body coverage
  • Skin tone: These designs suit light to fair skin tones.

9. Maori Flower Tattoos On Hip:

Flower Maori Tattoo

The flower Maori tattoo is very pretty to look at. It contains the image of a beautiful flower surrounded by tribal patterns. It is gorgeous in appearance and is best suited for women. It is worn mostly on the hip. It is one of the best Maori tattoo for Girls which is so beautiful and attracts the others easily also.

  • Best for: These tattoos are preferred by girls and women, who have curvy waistlines. These tattoos adorn their slender bodies and offer a sensuous look.
  • Preferable ink: Flower Maori tattoos are best done in medium to large sizes depending on the pattern chosen.
  • Where: These types of tattoos are preferred to be done on the waistline
  • Size: The size of the tattoo depends on how much of coverage one is looking for. You can go for a medium to large sized floral pattern.
  • Skin tone: They best suit light and fair skin tones.

10. Turtle Shell Maori Tattoo On Shoulder:

Shell Maori Tattoo

In Maori tattoo designs, some of the most common symbols used are shells, especially the turtle shell. The turtle is a very important sea creature and holds great significance among the Maoris. This simple Maori tattoo much more meaning as compared to other symbols and is a great idea for a tattoo design. Turtles symbolise health, happiness, long life, rest, peace and prosperity. They are considered to signs of good luck in the Maori culture.

  • Best for: These turtle tattoos are done by both men and women, who believe in the tales of the ancient Maori culture. Turtle tattoos are known to bring good luck and long life to the person.
  • Preferable ink: This back Maori tattoo is best done in black colored inks.
  • Where: Due to the small size of these tattoos, they can be placed anywhere on the body like arms, biceps, neck, back and even chest.
  • Size: A small to medium sized Turtle tattoo looks ideal
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for medium skin tone to fair tones.

11. Sun Maori Tattoo Designs For Girls:

Sun Maori Tattoo

The Sun Maori tattoo represents richness, leadership and brilliance. It is considered to be a source of brightness, natural wealth and nourishment. The sun tattoo is very dynamic to look. It gives you a very bold and strong appearance. It can be worn on any part of the body, although the upper body is preferable. They are known to bring good luck, health and happiness to the wearer.

  • Best for: Sun Maori tattoos are best worn by both men and women, who like to bring in a ray of hope, happiness and good health in their lives.
  • Preferable ink: These tattoos are best done in black and red colored inks.
  • Where: They are preferably inked on the chest, shoulders and biceps for better visibility.
  • Size: A medium sized tattoo design looks elegant and adds to the beauty of the wearer.
  • Skin tone: As the tattoo makes use of red and black inks, they are best suitable for light and fair skin tones.

12. Shark Teeth Maori Tattoo Designs For Men:

Shark Teeth Maori Tattoo

Shark Teeth is an important fish symbol among Polynesian tattoos. They stand as a representation of guidance, courage, strength and power and look stylish and trendy on the skin. Sharks were an important diet of the Maoris and their teeth were considered to prized possessions. Sharks were also quite revered among other seafood and their teeth represents strength, power and protection. This is one of the best Maori arm tattoo design for men.

  • Best for: Shark teeth tattoos are best suitable for men, who have traits of ferociousness and power. These people are also highly adaptable and respected by their clan.
  • Preferable ink: Shark teeth tattoos are best done using black teeth,
  • Where: This Maori sleeve tattoo design can be done on arms and biceps also.
  • Size: These warrior tattoos are best done in medium sized patterns
  • Skin tone: You can get them done on light and fair skin tones.

13. Spear Head Maori Tattoos On Arm:

The Spear Head Maori tattoo stands as a symbol of courage, wisdom and strength. It tries to express the image of a warrior and his great skills. The tattoo has very intricate designs and every line could stand as a symbol for something. It is very innovative and unique in appearance. It is one of the best Maori tattoo designs for both men and women.

  • Best for: Spear head tattoos are best for men who have warrior like qualities and have a focused aim on their goals. These people are go-getters and represent courage and valour.
  • Preferable ink: Spear tattoos are inked using black and brown colored inks
  • Where: They are best done as armbands, or on sleeves and arms.
  • Size: Spear tattoos looks great in medium or small sized patterns
  • Skin tone: They are best suitable for medium to fair skin tones.

14. Small Maori Tattoo Designs For Men:

We usually find out that most of the Maori tattoos are really rich and grungy and elongated which covers major portions of the body. If you want one of the Maori tattoos for men which are neater then you can go for one of such small patterns and get them inked on your chest like it is done here or behind the neck or anywhere else because smaller tattoos are easier to flaunt than the others.These tattoos represent the rich culture and heritage of the Maoris using subtle patterns and minimal details. They are made usuing a cluster of designs like the flora, fauna and other essential elements for the Maori living.

  • Best for: These tattoos are mainly intended for men who look to achieve more using less. They indicate the love for the Maori way of life and the pride with which they like to carry their heritage.
  • Preferable ink: Using black ink is the best color for such type of tattoos
  • Where: This pattern looks amazing on the chest, back or even the shoulders.
  • Size: A medium sized patterns is ideal to cover all the details, while ensuring its simplicity
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

15. Ocean Maori Tattoo Design For Men’s:

Ocean Maori Tattoo

Ocean Maori tattoos are very common. Some understand oceans as a symbol of death or the world beyond it. There are various patterns and designs available to choose from and people have really liked the idea as it makes your tattoo look strikingly amazing. Oceans played a crucial role in the lives of the Maoris, as they used to get most of their food from the waters. Seafood was the staple diet of the Maoris, who used a number of techniques to hunt the fish.

  • Best for: Ocean tattoos are usually done on men, who respect the Sea God for giving them plenty of food and offering them a source of living
  • Preferable ink: Maori upper arm tattoos are best done in black colored inks
  • Where: Ocean tattoos are best done on chest, shoulders, neck and even back.
  • Size: They are done using a group of smaller patterns to make one large Ocean pattern.
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

16. Maori Tribal Tattoo Designs:

Maori tribal tattoos are symbol of the rich culture and heritage of the ancient Maoris. They are made using many symbols and patterns to represent the ancient way of living. Each detail is carefully depicted using certain symbols like the tents, fish scales the Mackerel tail etc., with each of them associated with meanings like prosperity, health and courage.

  • Best for: Tribal tattoos are best done on men, who like to make their bodies as perfect canvas for etching the Maori way of life. These tattoos are symbolic stories of the then Maori way of living.
  • Preferable ink: Tribal tattoos are preferably done in black colored inks.
  • Where: They can be done on the biceps, chest and arms for better visibility.
  • Size: Maori tribal tattoos are ideally done in large sizes to ensure that all the details are accurately captured.
  • Skin tone: They are suitable for light to fair skin tones.

17. Maori Band Tattoo Designs:

This is one of the most stunningly done Maori armband tattoos. It is made using a series of patterns like spears, whale teeth etc. to symbolise protection, battle field and courage. Armband tattoos are quite popular with both men and women, who like to use tattoos are a permanent accessory on their bodies. Band tattoos can also be done on ankles and shoulders also. Although they are simple designs, they are highly detailed with inner meanings.

  • Best for: Band tattoos are best for both men and women, who like to add detailing to the most visible parts of their body like the wrists, arms and ankles.
  • Preferable ink: These tattoos look amazing when done in black colored ink.
  • Where: As the name suggests, band tattoos are preferably done on wrists, arms and ankles.
  • Size: They are best done in medium or large sizes depending on the size of the placement area.
  • Skin tone: They are ideally done on medium to fair skin tones.

Additional Tips to Retain the Elegance of Maori Tattoo Designs:

Maori tattoos carry a lot of significance with respect to the culture and heritage of the most celebrated clan of the world. Hence, it is important to understand certain aspects before zeroing in on a particular design:

  • Before choosing a design, understand the importance of different symbols used
  • You need to be fully aware of the significance of the patterns to make sure you know exactly what you plan to achieve with the tattoo.
  • Depending on the story you want to narrate, choose different small patterns to make one large pattern.
  • Placement area is also important for Maori tattoos. Certain tattoos with religious symbolism must not be done on foot and lower parts of the body.
  • Choosing an artist is also quite important. The artists must be well-versed with the Maori signs and patterns to get your money’s worth.

Thus it is a fact proved and sealed that tribal tattoos are a constant hit in the charts of the best tattoo designs and Maori tattoos simply never fail to impress people with the newer versions and more creative and beautiful patterns. We hope this article inspired you to get your story narrated using the Maori symbols. Maori tattoos are quite complex and it is difficult to achieve if the artist is not experienced. The easy way to achieve symmetry in a Maori tattoo is to use stencils to outline the patterns. So folks, get ready for these amazing Maori tattoos that are sure to grab some eyeballs!

1 Comment

  1. Pratima

    July 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Great blog. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading…