Story: Tā moko – Māori tattooing

Haehae at funeral, 1827

Haehae at funeral, 1827

This engraving was made by Louis de Sainson, the artist with French explorer Dumont d'Urville's 1827 expedition around New Zealand. The body of a chief, with feathers in his hair, has been placed against the post and wrapped in a cloak. The two seated women are lacerating their upper bodies with sharpened shells, a traditional act of mourning known as haehae. Sometimes soot was placed in the cuts to preserve the scars, a forerunner of the practice of tattooing. 

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-327-004
Hand-coloured engraving by Louis Auguste de Sainson

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Rawinia Higgins, 'Tā moko – Māori tattooing - Origins of tā moko', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 June 2024)

Story by Rawinia Higgins, published 5 Sep 2013