Title: Sir George Grey N.Z. Maori MS. 89

Author: Wiremu Marsh Te Rangikaheke

Editor: David Roy Simmons

Publication details: 1986, Auckland

Digital publication kindly authorised by: David Roy Simmons

Part of: The Moko Texts Collection

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Sir George Grey N.Z. Maori MS. 89

About Tattooing

About Tattooing

It is the chisel which cuts, but before the cut there is the drawing, the putting on of the pattern.

Drawing is the beginning of tattooing. Afterwards the tohunga takes up the chisel and the mallet.

Then it starts. The first chisel struck does not notch the skin; it is a big chisel, a broad chisel. When he arrives at the curves he takes a narrow chisel to use in the curves near the eyes.

The first tattooing is an opening of the way, a cutting of the skin, of the flesh of the body, to divide it in order to open a groove.

When the way is opened then the tohunga takes the notched chisel.

Then the tohunga takes the charcoal and the tow in one hand. The chisel is only in this hand, the left. In the right hand is the mallet, the charcoal and the tow, three things in one hand. The notched chisel is to notch the face to make the charcoal hold. This is the second chisel, the opening chisel is the one that cuts:

A broad chisel [is used again] until the temple is reached, that is to the eyes, when a narrow chisel is taken again to do the curves right and is right also for the pakati [inter­linear decoration]