the Word Made Flesh
Mokomae is the name of an ancestral warrior of the Ure or Mokomae clan which used to live in the area of Poike. It is from the Araki tribe. One of their descendants is the Chilean – Rapanui Luis “Tito” Hormazábal Araki, today a Tohunga ta Moko, an expert in traditional Rapanui tattoo.
Before the Europeans arrived, the Polynesian languages were not written. They were just oral, but reinforced by tattoo and body painting. The symbolic designs of tattoo served to express identity and personality. They indicated social rank, sexual maturity and geneaology. Tattoo was considered sacred, to be practiced in secret and only in special places for the pertinent ceremonies. In the past, everyone from the onset of puberty was tattooed. Tattoo usually began around 8 years of age and was completed step by step. With the passing of the years, the human body would become a true work of art, with designs meant to last for eternity, as the word made flesh.
Soon after the arrival of the European missionaries, this practice was strictly forbidden. It’s just recently, at the beginning of the 1980s, that the art of tattoo has been reborn. Polynesians are renewing their relationship with their cultural heritage and are now proud of their identity. Mokomae spots a pregnant woman. “I think that I should leave a descendant who can do tattoo here on the Island. With the continual cultural mixing, this art could be lost…”
According to Rapanui mythology, the union of various elements gave rise to more complex entities, leading to the birth of the first gods. This creation resulted from the union of Rangi Nui, the god of the sky, and Papatuanuku, the goddess of the earth and sea. Initially, the sky and the earth were close, but Tāne Mahuta separated them to provide space and light to the world.
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