As part of our inquiry into a traditional Maori community we compared the role of a weaver and a tattooist.
In Maori communities there are many roles related to storytelling such as singers, carvers, tattooists and weavers. We are comparing two different storytellers, the tattooists and the weavers.
One similarity shared by both the tattooist and weaver is that they both require a lot of skill. The weaver must be able to work with a range of materials to make clothes such as piupiu, decorations for the wharenui such as tukutuku panels and also baskets (kete) to carry food. The tattooist needs a different range of skills for instance a tattooist must be able to keep a steady hand and be a great artist.
Both tattooing and weaving contain symbols which tell stories. Tattoos contain images that represent the wearers family ancestry and their place in the tribe. For example a moko containing the mako (shark) could represent that the wearer is strong, powerful and a warrior. Weaving also contains images such as the kete which represents a container of knowledge and wisdom.
Both the traditional methods of tattooing and weaving has evolved from their beginnings of using tools such as bone and chisel to using equipment such as electric tattoo machines and stencils.
Tattooists and weavers play a significant role in a traditional Maori community. However if there could only be one of these positions in the tribe we believe that position should go to the weaver because they provide more necessary items such as clothing, bags to store food and traps to catch food. Weaving is also an art form that could be used to tell similar stories to tattoos.