In the traditional Maori world, the moko, or facial or body tattoo, was a sign of great mana and status. Male warriors wore elaborate tattoos on their faces and bodies; women took more delicate chin tattoos. After almost dying out in the twentieth century, Maori tattooing is now experiencing a powerful revival, with many young Maori wearing the moko as a spectacular gesture of racial pride.
Mau Moko is probably the most magnificent book ever produced about the moko, from pre-European times to the present day. It examines the use of tattooing by traditional and contemporary Maori and links it to other aspects of Maori culture. Gender issues are considered along with tattooing techniques both old and new. The book features case studies of modern Maori who have made a personal decision to be tattooed; the role and status of the tattooers; exploitation of the moko in popular culture around the world by figures such as rock singers and football players.