Maori Moko Self Portraits, Ages Fifth Grade+
A Brief History:
Ta Moko is the ritual of tattooing in the Maori culture (ta referring to tap, moko referring to the tattoo). It is performed by a tapu, who is considered sacred. People who bear moko have more mana than those who don't. Moko are usually tattooed onto the body using a small needle-like chisel and a hammer. Maori men have moko all over their bodies, while Maori women have moko solely on their lips and chin. You can learn more about moko and its history here.
Image Source: National Geographic
For this lesson, you will need:
- Mirrors for each student (self-stabilizing preferred)
- No. 2 Pencils
- White Paper/Cardstock
- Fine Tip Black Sharpies or Micron Pens (NO ball point pens)
- Assortment of Colored Pencils
1. Have students look into the mirror and write one thing that they like about themselves onto their sheet of paper. This helps boost optimism going into a project, as it will hopefully become a mantra as students begin to work. (I would be interested to test out the differences in two classes- one who gets this step and one who doesn't)
2. Turn the sheet of paper over so that the sentence is on the back. Begin sketching the self portrait on the front. No "football eyes" or "disembodied heads" (heads without necks)- draw what you see, not what you know!
3. Use a micron pen or a fine tip sharpie (no ball point pens as they smear!) and commit to a line that outlines the basic shapes- face, eyes, pupils, structure of the hair, etc.
4. Use an eraser to erase all of the pencil marks.
5. Add in details that make you you! For example, I have a scar under my left eye and a small freckle above my right lip. Add in those special things that make you unique! Once these are established, draw flowing tangent lines to show texture for the hair.
6. Choose a symbol that is meaningful to you (I used a star). Mess with this shape in No.2 pencil on the portrait to create your moko. Don't forget- men can have moko all over their faces, women can only have them on the lips and chin (students don't have to follow these rules directly if they don't want to). Abstract that meaningful symbol and use it to create your moko.
7. Touch up the pencil marks with an eraser and then go over the shape with a blue colored pencil. Color the moko in accordingly.
8. Use colored pencils to color in the clothing, face, and hair. Focus on shading to show depth, if necessary.
9. Have students choose a symbol from the Maori culture that they can incorporate into the background. Color choice is unimportant as long as it doesn't distract from the self portrait.
10. Voila! Do a haku dance! You're done with your Maori self portrait!
Art terms for this lesson:
Line, Color, Shape, Pattern, Repetition, Balance, Emphasis, Contrast, Symmetry, Asymmetry, Self-Portrait, Shading, Depth