Tuesday, February 28, 2006

crossing my fingers...

So this past weekend I came into my hometown tattoo shop to get my quarter sleeve worked on a bit. Over the course of the hour or so that I was there, my artist Chriss and I caught up on everything that had happened since my last time in the shop. As usual, my independent study course on body modification came up, and I eagerly told Chriss that I was planning to apply for a number of scholarships that would allow for me to do independent research this summer in a foreign country. I asked if he had any advice as to where I should go if I want to study a dying form of culturally significant body modification, and he mentioned that the Maoris of New Zealand would be an excellent peoples to look into. Upon talking about this prospect some more, I began to get really excited about the idea of studying the Marois, and so did Chriss. So much so, in fact, that he offered to come with me if I get a scholarship! I became further enthused when he reminded me that we could get traditional Maori tattoos if we go. Need I more motivation to kick this applications ass?
maoriTraditional Maori facial tattoo
Just when I thought I couldn't be more pumped about the idea of heading to beautiful New Zealand to study body mods, I found this story on BME's Modblog. Please please please check it out, it's an amazing story. It's basically about a girl named Olivia who is only slightly older than myself and is currently in Tanzania studying the Maasai peoples. Olivia's own blog page recounts every last detail of her amazing journey. Reading about her experience made me want to steal my tattooist away from his shop and hop a plane to New Zealand immediately. But I restrained myself...
So, wish me luck with my applications; I'll be needing it. Hopefully my school recognizes that this experience may be the single most fascinating thing I have ever done and decides to fund it. Sure, if I don't go I can still spend my summer working and getting modified, but if I do end up going I will gain more than some ink and metal under my skin - I will have had the opportunity to be a part of one of the few remaining cultures who still modify as their ancestors did. I cannot even describe how much that would mean to me.


Anonymous said...

Kia ora Tanya,
Introduction first, I am Tim, a young euro-maori(Ngapuhi) half-caste currently battling the urban grind in Auckland, New Zealand. I'm glad that you share such an interest in Ta Moko & would be happy to talk to you about any questions you may have about maori culture. I've got a word of warning though, don't come to Aotearoa simply if you believe you will acquire an authentic Maori moko while you are here. To obtain an authentic moko you must have Maori ancestry, not because we are a bunch of elitist bastards, but because a moko is like a name-tag stating your tribe, sub-tribe, birth-rights, position in the tribe, etc... so without having Maori ancestry, the moko is impossible. An alternative however is what we call 'Kirituhi' which basically means 'Skin art' in Maori, and is used to label moko-influenced tattoo art to seperate it from traditional moko. I don't mean to offend you with this comment, in fact I mean the opposite, I am a big fan of your blog & think that you are very talented, I just wanted you to know this before you showed up on our shores, especially because as a foreigner without whakapapa asking for moko could be taken as an insult to a maori tattoo artist. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your only chance to gain whakapapa (Maori lineage)would be to marry into a maori family, but that's probably not something you'd want to do just for moko. Anyway, if you end up coming to New Zealand I would be more than happy to meet up with you & Chriss & show you around, even point you in the direction of Ta Moko practitioners (keeping in mind the above) until then, if you have any questions about modern maori feel free to ask, I look forward to future correspondence.

4dprince at g mail dot com

Chip Emrich said...

This comment is just here to indicate my envy. By the by, what's your opinion on the pain-aspect of Maori tattoo methods? From what I understand, they're significantly more painful to make than typical tattooing methods, and I'm curious how that figures in your wish to pursue something done in that style and with those methods.