Tauron: A Guide to Tatau

The forum thread on Taurian tatau can be read here.

This page is a work-in-progress.

This wiki page is a repository for tatau styles used in Taurian culture. The term tatau is not a singular style, nor is its practice limited to Tauron. Just like not all tatau are Taurian, not all Taurian ink work is tatau. Tatau differs from standard tattooing in that there is always a ritualistic aspect to it, as well as some manner of cultural significance, which elevates it to something beyond mere body art.


For a Taurian, tatau may say something about a person's origins and of a person's own life, of ancestors and descendants, of migrations to homelands and, in more recent times, emigrations from such. Traditionally, tatau are representations of influence, strength, pride, rue, and even sanctification. Beautiful as some tatau may be, it should not be forgotten that they are but scars to the body, and are often indicators of scars upon the soul.

Forms of Tatau

Taurian tatau, regardless of stylistic rendering, are classified as follows:

  • Achyddiaeth are tatau pertaining to one's genealogy. This includes lineage and descendants, usually by blood, but also by marriage or adoption.

  • Kaupapa include primordial ancestor stories, mythology, and tales of journeys and deeds of the collective family/clan/tribe from which someone descends. Native Taurians have a set of stories based on their family history. This extends to expatriates, who may or may not also detail the story of their continued journey away from Tauron to their new homes. People from the same or related families have similar kaupapa, which makes them readily identifiable even to kin they may have never met before. This is why it is often used in tatau designs, so that not only can the stories of the family be 'read', but that people of related or intertwined families can recognize those relations when they read the tatau of others. (For example, the story of the exodus from Kobol would be a collective kaupapa of the Twelve Tribes of Kobol.)

  • Kirituhi denote personal accomplishments, failures, skills, and values. They are acquired to commemorate significant events. Although kirituhi of one style may share the same iconography of another kirituhi of that same style, the arrangement of those elements is personalized to a point that no two kirituhi are the same, even if they may seem identical to an untrained eye. Pending minor revisions.

  • Trwytho encompass wards of protection and infusions of qualities. In ancient times, warriors would receive trwytho to augment their battle prowess, and many coming from the roughest areas of Tauron, and those enlisted in the military or other lines of dangerous work, continue this tradition. It also is not uncommon for someone who has suffered a severe injury to have trwytho to promote healing and prevent further damage. The symbolism and placement of trwytho is fairly universal among all styles of Taurian tatau, although the overall look varies from stylistic tradition to stylistic tradition.

  • Whakapapa pertain to social standing and influence, whether based upon purity of blood lines or granted by accreditation and quality of participation. Pending minor revisions.

Other forms to be added.


The following terms are part of Taurian tatau lexicon. As far as the use of specific tools goes — because different traditions use different tools — please refer to the Process section of each tatau tradition's entry.


  • Kaiwhakairo — literally translates to "one who engraves". When it is capitalized, it refers to a Matatau of a tatau tradition that utilizes incisions. See also: Matatau.
  • Karakia — long chant recited by a Matatau during certain tatatau rituals.
  • Karakua — long chant recited by a Taiatau during certain tatatau rituals.
  • Matatau — literally translates to "tatau expert". In modern times, the title has come to also carry the meaning of "priest" because all true Matatau know all of the prescribed rituals, observances, and chants that are part and parcel of being initiated in the tatau creating practices of their specific tatau tradition. Due to such cultural significance, Matatau is considered a proper noun.
  • Pakeha — outsider; pejorative applied to non-Taurians wearing Taurian tatau styles.
  • Taiatau — literally translates to "one who has tatau".
  • Tatatau — the act of creating a tatau. Both a noun and a verb, i.e., tattooing or to tattoo.
  • Whakairota — literally translates to "engraved". When it is capitalized, it refers to someone who has tatau of a tradition that utilizes incisions.


  • Paatuketuke — wooden mallet.
  • Tau — dye, usually made of natural materials, fired to carbon and added to water to make a dyeing fluid.
  • Uhi — flat-bladed chisel, usually made of bone, tusks, shell or wood, and affixed to a wooden haft.
  • Uhi matarau — comb-chiseled blade, usually made of the same material as the flat uhi.

Stylistic Traditions

Although there is a limited number Taurian tatau forms, there is no shortage of Taurian tatau stylistic traditions.

Ta Moko

Ta Moko (or simply moko) is an ancient style of tatau that is absolutely unique to Taurian culture and particularly favored in the Black Country. (It is analogous to RL Polynesian styles, particularly those of the Māori and Samoan peoples.) For those familiar with tatau, Ta Moko is easily recognizable as being a Taurian style. In a manner similar to dialects, however, the meaning of the moko from someone hailing from one region will not be 100% decipherable to a Whakairota Ta Moko from another. Visual description to be added, including recurring motifs like the koru.

Those who wear moko hold an extremely negative view of non-Taurians co-opting any form of moko, as occasionally happens because some Pakeha (ignorant outsider) has no idea what the designs actually mean, simply wanting such because "it looks cool". Typically, this results in the visual copying a specific moko that they've seen on someone else, not realizing that this is considered a form of identity theft and a personal affront of the greatest magnitude to the actual owner.

It is not unheard of for the person whose moko was stolen to respond with violence, and many people still recall the Ovid Joyce incident of 2033 AE.

An extra layer of offensiveness comes from the fact that imitation moko are created with none of the rituals or tools of true moko. Unlike the standard needlework of different forms of tatau, the art of Ta Moko involves actually incising the flesh, which makes it exceptionally painful. An inability for the recipient to complete the process is deemed a mark of great shame. More to be added about pe'a mutu foo.

The Process

The process of applying a Ta Moko is done in two stages. In the first, after the designs have been drawn onto the skin, the uhi matarau is used like a rake by tapping with the paatuketuke to cut open the flesh. Once the design has been carved into the skin, the flat bladed uhi, which has had the dye or ink applied to it, is tapped with the paatuketuke into the grooves created by the uhi matarau, forcing the tau into the cut flesh. Usually, the Kaiwhakairo will strike and carve and dye with the tools, while one or two assistants stretch the skin and wipe away excess dye. The process of carving and inking results in a tatau that has a chiseled, textured quality that isn't readily evident from a distance. More to be added.


Knossian tatau, like ta moko, is a style absolutely unique to Taurian culture, and while it bears certain similarities to other Taurian tatau styles, it is identical to none. For those familiar with other forms of tatau, Knossian symbolism seems familiar, and is partially legible, but cannot be entirely deciphered. Originating with several families in Knossos, it is reputed by its practitioners to be particularly ancient.

Like many other styles of tatau, it includes information about a person's family lineage and history, as well as their personal experiences. Knossian tatau are updated continuously over the course of a person's life, whenever an event of sufficient magnitude to merit inclusion occurs. There are certain symbols and patterns that recur in Knossian tatau, and represent common events such as a death in the family, marriage, birth or death of children, service in war, etc. Beyond these elements, however, Knossian tatau generally involve a great deal of embellishment and detail, and the complex designs tend to be created by the wearer or to his specifications. There is, therefore, quite a bit of room for individual style and artistry, and less of the regimented structure utilized by some other tatau styles. Possessors of Knossian tatau are no more friendly towards outsiders who ignorantly copy their designs than any others.

The Process

Typically, Knossian tatau are first applied during the teenage years. The first application is accompanied by ceremony and ritual intended to induct the young person into adulthood and the community. The tatau given at this time include the achyddiaeth and the kaupapa and they are applied in a way essentially identical to the process described above for Ta Moko. Later additions, particularly kirituhi are generally done using modern tattooing equipment better able to accommodate the level of complex detail and shading that has become common in Knossian designs, though it is not unusual for additions to the achyddiaeth (to account for marriage and children, generally) to also be applied using the ancient tools.

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