Story: Tā moko – Māori tattooing

Tongan tattoo designs, 1820s (1st of 2)

Māori tā moko is related to the tattoo traditions of other Pacific peoples, such as these Tongans recorded in the 1820s by Louis de Sainson. He was the official artist on French explorer Dumont d'Urville's voyage throughout the South Pacific and Australia. This lithograph includes, in the centre, a detailed drawing of a male thigh design, showing some similarities to tā moko designs.

Using this item

Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Reference: 2010/5/18
Hand-coloured lithograph by Louis Auguste de Sainson

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki 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 10 December 2023)

Story by Rawinia Higgins, published 5 Sep 2013