After a long Olympic-inspired journey through ancient Greece and Rome, Tattoo Lou's is returning to New Zealand to pick up our investigation of Maori tribal tattoo practices:
Ta Moko, the Maori art of tattoo is created differently from most other types. Instead of a needle puncture, a traditional Maori tattoo is created by cutting deep grooves in the skin with a carved chisel made from Albatross bone. The word "Ta" means "to tap" or "to strike," which describes how the skin is cut. Sound painful? Apparently, it is.
After carving the pattern, ink is rubbed into the wound. For face Ta Moko, charcoal from burned wood is used, while body tattooing is done with a paste made from "vegetable caterpillars," which are actually created when caterpillars get infected by a particular fungus which kills and mummifies them. They were used for food by the Maori when fresh, and are said to taste like nuts. For ink, they would be dried and heated to turn them into charcoal, and mixed with muttonbird fat.