Art. XLVI.—Polynesian Folk-lore.—Part II.: The Origin of Fire.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 19th October,1887.]
In my first paper on the subject of Polynesian Folk-lore,* I compared the stories treating of the adventures of Hina, the sister of Maui. I will now attempt to compile the different versions of the legend relating the procuring by Maui of fire for the use of man. This tradition is related everywhere in the Polynesian islands with wonderful faithfulness—wonderful when we consider how many centuries must have elapsed since the dispersion of the Maori tribes in the Pacific. I believe that a vast extent of time lies between the parting of New Zealander and Samoan, of Tahitian and Hawaiian; but if the opinions of some scholars (Hale, the American philologist, notably) should be verified concerning the comparatively late departure of the New Zealanders from some South Sea island, still the lapse of years necessary to account for the widely differing customs (kingship, idols, tattooing, tapu, etc.) and the divergence of dialect, must be very great. The more I become conversant with the Polynesian languages, the more thoroughly I feel assured of very ancient branchings in the meaning of expressions common to all; and that it is only those investigators who are satisfied with comparing the most common and vital words (such as those for fire, water, etc.) who can consider the dispersion or migration as recent.
However that may be, we have in the story of the Polynesian Maui, in his character of Prometheus, a tradition more clear and faithful than any which treat of his labours as Hercules—the solar mythologists claim Maui, with I do not know how much reason. Maui is pre-eminently the Hero of Polynesia: sometimes Maui the cunning, the evil; sometimes the kind (atamai) and the benefactor. In the “origin of fire” story he is the benefactor. The legends I have gathered together are those which have been told in New Zealand, Samoa, Manihiki, Mangaia, and Nukuhiva (Marquesas). In commencing the New Zealand story I must preface the actual tradition with a short extract from a prior part of the Maui legends; this extract relating to the power Maui possessed of turning himself into a bird at pleasure.† This is necessary, because the bird-dress of Maui plays an important part in the legends of obtaining fire, as told in the South seas. I will quote Sir George Grey's version as the classical one:—
[Footnote] * “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xix., p. 486.
[Footnote] † See “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xix., p. 502.
“His brothers felt quite surprised and pleased with their little brother when they heard him talk in this way; and when after a little time they had recovered from their amazement, they told him to try and find their father and mother. So he said he would go. It was a long time ago that he had finished his first labour, for when he first appeared to his relatives in their house of singing and dancing, he had on that occasion transformed himself into the likeness of all manner of birds, of every bird in the world, and yet no single form that he then assumed had pleased his brothers: but now when he showed himself to them, transformed into the semblance of a pigeon, his brothers said: ‘Ah, now indeed, oh brother, you do look very well indeed, very beautiful, very beautiful, much more beautiful than you looked in any of the other forms which you assumed, and then changed from, when you first discovered yourself to us.’ What made him now look so well in the shape he assumed was the belt of his mother, and her apron, which he had stolen from her while she was asleep in the house: for the very thing which looked so white upon the breast of the pigeon was his mother's broad belt, and he also had on her little apron of burnished hair from the tail of a dog; and the fastening of her belt was what formed the beautiful black feathers on his throat. He had once changed himself into this form a long time ago, and now that he was going to look for his father and mother, and had quitted his brother to transform himself into the likeness of a pigeon, he assumed exactly the same form as on the previous occasion; and when his brothers saw him thus again, they said, ‘Oh brother! oh brother! you do look really well indeed;’ and when he sat upon the bough of a tree, oh dear! he never moved or jumped about from spray to spray, but sat quite still, cooing to himself, so that no one who had seen him could have helped thinking of the proverb, ‘A stupid pigeon sits on one bough, and jumps not from spray to spray.’ Early the next morning, he said to his brothers, as was first stated, ‘Now do you remain here, and you will hear something of me after I am gone; it is my great love for my parents that leads me to search for them: now listen to me, and then say whether or not my recent feats were not remarkable. For the fact of transforming oneself into birds can only be accomplished by a man who is skilled in magic, and yet here I, the youngest of you all, have assumed the form of all birds; and now, perhaps, after all, I shall quite lose my art, and become old and weakened in the long journey to the place where I am going.’ His brothers answered him thus: ‘That might be, indeed, if you were going on a warlike expedition, but, in truth, you are only going to look for those parents who we all so long to see; and if they are found by you, we shall ever after all dwell happily, our present sorrow will be ended, and we shall continually pass backwards and
forwards between our dwelling-place and theirs, paying them happy visits.'
“He answered them, 'It is certainly a very good cause which leads me to undertake this journey, and if, when reaching the place I am going to, I find everything agreeable and nice, then I shall perhaps be pleased with it; but if I find it a bad disagreeable place, I shall be disgusted with it.’ They replied to him, ‘What you say is exceedingly true, depart then upon your journey, with your great knowledge and skill in magic.’ Then their brother went into the wood, and came back to them again, looking just as if he were a real pigeon. His brothers were quite delighted, and they had no power left to do anything but admire him.
“Then off he flew, until he came to the cave which his mother had run down into, and he lifted up the tuft of rushes. Then down he went, and disappeared in the cave, and shut up its mouth again so as-to hide the entrance. Away he flew very fast indeed, and twice he dipped his wing, because the cave was so narrow. Soon he reached nearly to the bottom of the cave, and flew along it; and again, because the cave was so narrow, he dips first one wing and then the other, but the cave now widened, and he dashed straight on.
“At last he saw a party of people coming along under a grove of trees; they were manapau trees,* and flying on, he perched upon the top of one of these trees, under which the people had seated themselves; and when he saw his mother lying down upon the grass by the side of her husband, he guessed at once who they were, and he thought, ‘Ah, there sit my father and mother right under me,’ and he soon heard their names as they were called to by their friends, who were sitting with them. Then the pigeon hopped down, and perched on another spray a little lower, and it pecked off one of the berries off the tree and dropped it gently down, and hit the father with it gently on the forehead; and some of the party said, ‘Was it a bird that threw that down?’ but the father said, ‘Oh no, it was only a berry that fell by chance.’ Then the pigeon again pecked off some of the berries from the tree, and threw them down with all its force, and struck both father and mother so that he really hurt them. Then they cried out, and the whole party jumped up and looked into the tree, and as the pigeon began to coo, they soon found out from the noise where it was sitting among the leaves and branches, and the whole of them, the chiefs and common people alike, caught up stones to pelt the pigeon with, but they threw for a very long time without hitting it. At last the father tried to throw up at it. Ah! he struck it; but Maui
[Footnote] * “The manapau was a species of tree peculiar to the country whence the people came, where the priests say it was known by this name.”—Grey.
[Footnote] The manapau is a tree of Samoa.—Tregear.
had himself contrived that he should be struck by the stone his father threw; for, but by his own choice, no one could have hit him. He was struck exactly upon his left leg, and down he fell, and as he lay fluttering and struggling upon the ground, they all ran to catch him, but lo, the pigeon had turned into a man!
“Then all those who saw him were frightened at his fierce glaring eyes, which were red, as if painted with red ochre, and they said: ‘Oh, it is now no wonder that he so long sat still up in the tree; had he been a bird he would have flown off long before, but he is a man;’ and some of them said, ‘No, indeed, rather a god—just look at his form and appearance, the like has never been seen before, since Rangi and Papa-tu-a-nuku were torn apart.’ Then Taranga said, ‘I used to see one who looked like this person every night when I went to visit my children, but what I saw then excelled what I see now: just listen to me. Once as I was wandering upon the sea-shore, I prematurely gave birth to one of my children, and I cut off the long tresses of my hair and bound him up in them, and threw him into the foam of the sea, and after that he was found by his great ancestor Tama-nui-ki-te-Rangi;’ and then she told his story nearly in the same words that Maui-the-infant had told it to herself and his brothers in their house, and, having finished his history, Taranga ended her discourse to her husband and his friends.
“Then his mother asked Maui, who was sitting near her, ‘Where do you come from? from the westward?’ and he answered, ‘No.’ ‘From the north-east, then?’ ‘No.’ ‘From the south-east, then?’ ‘No.’ ‘From the south, then?’ ‘No.’ ‘Was it the wind which blows upon me, which brought you here to me, then?’ When she asked this, he opened his mouth and answered, ‘Yes.’ And she cried out, ‘Oh, then, this is indeed my child,’ and she said ‘Are you Maui-taha?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then said she, ‘Are you Maui-tikitiki-o-Taranga?’ and he answered ‘Yes.’ And she cried aloud, ‘This is indeed my child. By the winds and storms and wave-uplifting gales he was fashioned and became a human being: welcome, oh my child, welcome! by you shall hereafter be climbed the threshold of the house of your great ancestor, Hine-nui-te-po, and death shall henceforth have no power over man.’”
I now pass over the parts of the legend treating of the wonderful feats performed by Maui, and take up the thread of the tradition concerning the search for fire.
“The hero now thought that he would extinguish and destroy the fires of his ancestress Mahu-ika. So he got up in the night, and put out the fires left in the cooking-houses of each family in the village: then, quite early in the morning, he called
aloud to the servants, ‘I hunger, I hunger; quick, cook some food for me.’ One of the servants thereupon ran as fast as he could to make up the fire to cook some food, but the fire was out; and as he ran round from house to house in the village to get a light, he found every fire quite out—he could nowhere get a light. When Maui's mother heard this, she called out to the servants and said, ‘Some of you repair to my great ancestress Mahu-ika: tell her that fire has been lost upon earth, and ask her to give some to the world again.’ But the slaves were alarmed, and refused to obey the commands which their masters, the sacred old people, gave them; and they persisted in refusing to go, notwithstanding the old people repeatedly ordered them to do so.
“At last Maui said to his mother: ‘Well, then, I will fetch down fire for the world; but which is the path by which I must go?’ And his parents, who knew the country well, said to him: ‘If you will go, follow that broad path that lies before you there, and you will reach at last the dwelling of an ancestress of yours; and if she asks you who you are, you had better call out your name to her, then she will know you are a descendant of hers; but be cautious and do not play any tricks with her, because we have heard that your deeds are greater than the deeds of men, and that you are fond of deceiving and injuring others, and perhaps you even now intend in many ways to deceive this old ancestress of yours; but pray be cautious not to do so.’
“But Maui said: ‘No; I only want to bring fire away for men, that is all, and I will return again as soon as I can do that.’ Then he went, and reached the abode of the goddess of fire; and he was so filled with wonder at what he saw, that for a long time he could say nothing. At last he said: ‘Oh, lady! would you rise up? Where is your fire kept? I have come to beg some from you.’ Then the old lady rose right up, and said: ‘Au-e! who can this mortal be?’ And he answered, ‘It's I.’ ‘Where do you come from?’ said she; and he answered, ‘I belong to this country.’ ‘You are not from this country,’ said she, ‘your appearance is not like that of the inhabitants of this country. Do you come from the northeast?’ He replied, ‘No.’ ‘Do you come from the southeast?’ He replied, ‘No.’ ‘Are you from the south?’ He replied, ‘No.’ ‘Are you from the westward?’ He answered, ‘No.’ ‘Come you then from the direction of the wind, which blows right upon me?’ and he said: ‘I do.’ ‘Oh, then,’ cried she, ‘you are my grandchild! What do you want here?’ He answered, ‘I am come to beg fire from you.’ She replied: ‘Welcome, welcome! here, then, is fire for you.’
“Then the aged woman pulled out her nail; and, as she pulled it out, fire flowed from it, and she gave it to him. And when Maui saw she had drawn out her nail to produce fire for
him, he thought it a most wonderful thing! Then he went a short distance off, and, when not very far from her, he put the fire out, quite out; and returning to her again, said: ‘The light you gave me has gone out; give me another.’ Then she caught hold of another nail, and pulled it out as a light for him; and he left her, and went a little on one side, and put that light out also; then he went back to her again, and said: ‘Oh, lady, give me, I pray you, another light, for the last one has also gone out.’ And thus he went on and on, until she had pulled out all the nails of the fingers of one of her hands; and then she began with the other hand, until she had pulled all the finger-nails out of that hand too; and then she commenced on the nails of her feet, and pulled them also out in the same manner, except the nail of one of her big toes. Then the aged woman said to herself at last: ‘This fellow is surely playing tricks with me.’
“Then out she pulled the one toe-nail that she had left, and it, too, became fire, and as she dashed it down on the ground the whole place caught fire. And she cried out to Maui, ‘There, you have it all now!’ And Maui ran off, and made a rush to escape; but the fire followed hard after him, close behind him, so he changed himself into a fleet-winged eagle, and flew with rapid flight; but the fire pursued, and almost caught him as he flew. Then the eagle dashed down into a pool of water; but when he got into the water he found that almost boiling. The forests just then also caught fire, so that he could not alight anywhere; and the earth and the sea both caught fire too, and Maui was very near perishing in the flames.
“Then he called on his ancestors, Tawhiri-matea and Wha-tiri-matakataka, to send down an abundant supply of water; and he cried aloud, ‘Oh! let water be given to me to quench this fire which pursues after me;’ and, lo! then appeared squalls and gales, and Tawhiri-matea sent heavy, lasting rain, and the fire was quenched; and before Mahuika could reach her place of shelter she almost perished in the rain, and her shrieks and screams became as loud as those of Maui had been when he was scorched by the pursuing fire: thus Maui ended this proceeding. In this manner was extinguished the fire of Mahuika, the goddess of fire; but before it was all lost she saved a few sparks which she threw, to protect them, into the lcaikomako and a few other trees, where they are still cherished; hence men yet use portions of the wood of these trees for fire when they require a light.”
Many versions of this story are related in New Zealand; but they differ little, and in no essential particular. Taylor gives a brief account of the legend,* and enumerates the trees which
[Footnote] * “Te Ika a Maui,” Rev. Richard Taylor, ed. 1870, p. 130.
contain the “seed of fire”—these are the patete, kaikomako, mahoe, totara, and pukatea; the trees which refused to admit the seeds of fire were the rata, hinau, kahikatea, rimu, matai, and miro. The late Rev. Mr. Wohlers, a missionary long resident in the South Island, relates the story as preserved among the southern natives, and told in the Murihiku dialect;* there is little variation except in the concluding portion. Mr. John White gives many versions of the story in the second volume of his “Ancient Maori History;” but they are all coincident with the tales told by Sir George Grey and Mr. Wohlers; the only important point which is new being that (at page 71): “Te-raka was the father and Mahuika the mother of Maui. The kahu (Circus gouldi) was also her child, and was the god of fire. The feathers of the kahu resemble fire, whence their red colour originated.” Here we have a direct reference to the hawk-god (Ra) of ancient history, and a point is lost when Grey and Wohlers (for poetry-sake, doubtless) translate kahu as “eagle.” The eagle is unknown in New Zealand, and the hawk is mythologically the right bird. These legends of Grey, White, and Wohlers are the principal forms of the New Zealand tale; but there is another version sometimes to be heard among the Natives in which Mahuika is represented as a male deity. I so heard the story many years ago, but cannot give authority.
We will now pass to the Samoan story.† “The Samoans say that there was a time when their ancestors ate everything raw, and that they owe the luxury of cooked food to one Ti'iti'i, the son of a person called Talaga. This Talaga was high in favour with the earthquake god, Mafuie, who lived in a subterranean region where there was fire continually burning. On going to a certain perpendicular rock, and saying, ‘Rock, divide, I am Talaga: I have come to work!’ the rock opened and let Talaga in; and he went below to his plantation in the land of this god Mafuie. One day Ti'iti'i, the son of Talaga, followed his father, and watched when he entered. The youth, after a time, went up to the rock, and feigning his father's voice, said, ‘Rock, divide! I am Talaga; I have come to work!’ and was admitted too. His father, who was at work in his plantation, was surprised to see his son there, and begged him not to talk loud, lest the god Mafuie should hear him, and be angry. Seeing smoke rising, he inquired of his father what it was. His father said it was the fire of Mafuie. ‘I must go and get some,’ said the son. ‘No,’ said the father, ‘he will be angry. Don't you know that he eats people?’ ‘What do I care for
[Footnote] * “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. vii., pp. 7 and 38.
[Footnote] † The ’ of Samoa is a soft catch of the breath, denoting a lost k; thus Ti'iti'i is the New Zealand Tikitiki. The g is ng of Maori.
him?’ said the daring youth; and off he went, humming a song, towards the smoking furnace. ‘Who are you?’ said Mafuie. ‘I am Ti'iti'i, the son of Talaga. I am come for some fire.’ ‘Take it,’ said Mafuie. He went back to his father with some cinders, and the two set to work to bake some taro. They kindled a fire, and were preparing the taro to put on the hot stones, when suddenly the god Mafuie blew up the oven, scattered the stones about, and put out the fire. ‘Now,’ said Talaga, ‘did I not tell you Mafuie would be angry?’ Ti'iti'i went off in a rage to Mafuie, and without any ceremony commenced with, ‘Why have you broken up our oven and put out our fire?’ Mafuie was indignant at such a tone and language, rushed at him, and there they wrestled with each other. Ti'iti'i got hold of the right arm of Mafuie, grasped it with both hands, and gave it such a wrench that it broke off. He then seized the other arm, and was going to twist it off next, when Mafuie declared himself beaten, and implored Ti'iti'i to have mercy, and spare his left arm. ‘Do let me have this arm,’ said he; ‘I need it to hold Samoa straight and level. Give it to me, and I will let you have my hundred wives.’ ‘No, not for that,’ said Ti'iti'i. ‘Well, then, will you take fire? If you let me have my left arm you shall have fire, and you may ever after this eat cooked food.’ ‘Agreed,’ said Ti'iti'i;’ ‘you keep your arm, and I have fire.’ ‘Go,’ said Mafuie; ‘you will find the fire in every wood you cut.’ And hence, the story adds, Samoa, ever since the days of Ti'iti'i, has eaten cooked food from the fire which is got from the friction of rubbing one piece of dry wood against another….
The Natives of Savage Island, 300 miles to the south of Samoa, have a somewhat similar tale about the origin of fire. Instead of Talaga and Ti'iti'i, they give the names of Maui the father, and Maui the son. Instead of going through a rock, their entrance was down through a reed bush. And instead of a stipulation for the fire, they say that the youth Maui, like another Prometheus, stole it, ran up the passage, and, before his father could catch him, he had set the bush in flames in all directions. The father tried to put it out, but in vain; and they further add, that ever since the exploit of young Maui, they have had fire and cooked food in Savage Island.”*
The Bowditch Islanders (Tokelau Islands) also knew the legend, and called the fire-goddess Mafuike; but she was blind, a fact coincident with other versions related further on.
In the Hervey Islands the legend is (at Mangaia) as follows:—
“Originally fire was unknown to the inhabitants of this world, who of necessity ate raw food. In the nether world
[Footnote] * “Samoa, a Hundred Years ago,” G. Turner, LL.D., p. 209.
(Avaiki)* lived four mighty ones: Mauiki, god of fire; the sun-god Rā; Ru, supporter of the heavens; and, lastly, his wife Buataranga, guardian of the road to the invisible world.
“To Ru and Buataranga was born a famous son Māui. At an early age Maui was appointed one of the guardians of this upper world where mortals live. Like the rest of the inhabitants of the world he subsisted on uncooked food. The mother, Buataranga, occasionally visited her son; but always ate her food apart, out of a basket brought with her from nether-land. One day, when she was asleep, Maui peeped into her basket, and discovered cooked food. Upon tasting it, he was decidedly of opinion that it was a great improvement upon the raw diet to which he was accustomed. This food came from nether-world; it was evident that the secret of fire was there. To netherworld, the home of his parents, he would descend to gain this knowledge, so that ever after he might enjoy the luxury of cooked food. On the following day Buataranga was about to return to Avaiki (nether-world) when Maui followed her through the bush without her knowing it. This was no difficult task, as she always came and returned by the same road. Peering through the tall reeds, he saw his mother standing opposite a black rock, which she addressed as follows:—
‘Buataranga, descend thou bodily through this chasm.
The rainbow-like must be obeyed.
As two clouds parting at dawn,
Open, open up my road to nether-world, ye fierce ones!'
At these words the rock divided, and Buataranga descended. Maui carefully treasured up those magic words; and without delay started off to see the god Tane the owner of some wonderful pigeons. He earnestly begged Tane to lend him one; but the proffered pigeon, not pleasing Maui, was at once returned to its owner. A better pigeon was offered to the fastidious borrower, but was rejected. Nothing would content Maui but the possession of Akaotu, (or ‘Fearless,’) a red pigeon specially prized by Tane. It was so tame that it knew its name, and, wander wherever it might, it was sure to return to its master. Tane, who was loth to part from his pet, extracted a promise from Maui that the pigeon should be restored to him uninjured. Maui now set off in high spirits, carrying with him his red pigeon, to the place where his mother had descended. Upon pronouncing the magic words which he had overheard, to his great delight the rock opened, and Maui entering the pigeon descended. Some assert that Maui transformed himself into a small dragon-fly, and perched upon the back of the pigeon made his descent. The two fierce guardian demons of the chasm, enraged at finding themselves imposed upon by a stranger, made a grab
[Footnote] * The Hervey Islanders drop h; hence Avaiki = Maori Hawaiki.
at the pigeon, intending to devour it. Fortunately, however, for the borrower, they only succeeded in getting possession of the tail, whilst the pigeon, minus its beautiful tail, pursued its flight to the shades. Maui was grieved at the mishap which had overtaken the pet bird of his friend Tane.
“Arrived at nether-land, Maui sought for the home of his mother. It was the first house he saw: he was guided to it by the sound of her cloth-flail. The red pigeon alighted on an oven-house, opposite to the open shed where Buataranga was beating out cloth. She stopped her work to gaze at the red pigeon, which she guessed to be a visitor from the upper world, as none of the pigeons in the shades were red. Buataranga said to the bird, ‘Are you not come from “daylight?”’ The pigeon nodded assent. ‘Are you not my son Maui?’ inquired the old woman. Again the pigeon nodded. At this, Buataranga entered her dwelling, and the bird flew to a bread-fruit tree. Maui resumed his proper human form, and went to embrace his mother, who inquired how he had descended to nether-world, and the object of his visit. Maui avowed that he had come to learn the secret of fire. Buataranga said, ‘This secret rests with the fire-god Mauike. When I wish to cook an oven, I ask your father Ru to beg a lighted stick from Mauike.’ Maui inquired where the fire-god lived. His mother pointed out the direction, and said it was called Are-aoa = house of banyan-sticks. She entreated Maui to be careful ‘for the fire-god is a terrible fellow, of a very uncertain temper.’ Maui now walked up boldly towards the house of the fire-god, guided by the curling column of smoke. Mauike, who happened at the moment to be cooking an oven of food, stopped his work, and demanded what the stranger wanted. Maui replied, ‘A fire-brand.’ The fire-brand was given. Maui carried it to a stream running past the bread-fruit tree, and there extinguished it. He now returned to Mauike, and obtained a second fire-brand, which he also extinguished in the stream. The third time a lighted stick was demanded of the fire-god; he was beside himself with rage. Raking the ashes of his oven, he gave the daring Maui some of them on a piece of dry wood. These live coals were thrown into the stream, as the former lighted sticks had been.
“Maui correctly thought that a fire-brand would be of little use unless he could obtain the secret of fire. The brand would eventually go out; but how to reproduce the fire? His object, therefore, was to pick a quarrel with the fire-god, and compel him by sheer violence to yield up the invaluable secret, as yet known to none but himself. On the other hand, the fire-god, confident in his own prodigious strength, resolved to destroy this insolent intruder into his secret. Maui, for the fourth time, demanded fire of the enraged fire-god. Mauike ordered him away under pain of being tossed into the air, for Maui was small
of stature. But the visitor said he should enjoy nothing better than a trial of strength with the fire-god. Mauike entered his dwelling to put on his war girdle (ume i tona maro); but on returning found that Maui had swelled himself to an enormous size. Nothing daunted at this, Mauike boldly seized him with both hands, and hurled him to the height of a cocoanut-tree. Maui contrived in falling to make himself so light that he was in no degree hurt by his adventure. Mauike, maddened that his adversary should yet breathe, exerted his full strength, and next time hurled him far higher than the highest cocoanut-tree that ever grew. Yet Maui was uninjured by his fall; whilst the fire-god lay panting for breath. It was now Maui's turn. Seizing the fire-god, he threw him up to a dizzy height, and caught him like a ball with his hands. Assured that this was but a preparation for a final toss, which would seal his fate, the panting and thoroughly exhausted Mauike entreated Maui to stop and to spare his life. Whatever he desired should be his.
“The fire-god, now in a miserable plight, was allowed to breathe awhile. Maui said: ‘Only on one condition will I spare you: tell me the secret of fire. Where is it hidden? How is it produced?’ Mauike gladly promised to tell him all he knew, and led him inside his wonderful dwelling. In one corner there was a quantity of fine cocoanut fibre; in another, bundles of fire-yielding sticks, the au (lemon, Hibiscus), the oronga (Urtica argentea), the tauinu, and particularly the aoa(Ficus indicus) or banyan tree. These sticks were all dry and ready for use. In the middle of the room were two smaller sticks by themselves. One of these the fire-god gave to Maui, desiring him to hold it firmly, while he himself plied the other most vigorously. And thus runs—
The Fire-God's Song.
‘Grant, oh, grant me thy hidden fire;
Thou banyan tree!
Perform an incantation;
Utter a prayer to (the spirit of)
The banyan tree!
Kindle a fire for Mauike,
Of the dust of the banyan tree.'
“By the time this song was completed, Maui, to his great joy, perceived a faint smoke arising out of the fine dust produced by the friction of one stick upon another. As they persevered in their work the smoke increased; and, favoured with the fire-god's breath, a slight flame arose, when the fine cocoanut fibre was called into requisition to catch and increase the flame. Mauike now called to his aid the different bundles of sticks, and speedily got up a blazing fire, to the astonishment of Maui. The grand secret of fire was secured. But the victor resolved to be revenged for his trouble, and his tossing in the air, by setting fire to his fallen adversary's abode. In a short time all
nether-world was in flames, which consumed the fire-god and all he possessed. Even the rocks cracked and split with the heat: hence the ancient saying,—
‘The rocks at Orovaru (in the shades) are burning.’*
“Ere leaving the land of ghosts, Maui carefully picked up the two fire-sticks, once the property of Mauike, and hastened to the bread-fruit tree, where the red pigeon, ‘Fearless,’ quietly awaited his return. His first care was to restore the tail of the bird, so as to avoid the anger of Tane. There was no time to be lost, for the flames were rapidly spreading. He re-entered the pigeon, which carried his fire-sticks one in each claw, and flew to the lower entrance of the chasm. Once more pronouncing the words he learnt from Buataranga, the rocks parted, and he got safely back to this upper world. Through the good offices of his mother, the pigeon met with no opposition from the fierce guardians of the road to the shades. On again entering into light, the red pigeon took a long sweep, alighting eventually in a lovely, secluded valley, which was thenceforth named Rupe-tau, or “the pigeon's resting-place.” Maui now resumed his original human form, and hastened to carry back the pet bird of Tane.
“Passing through the main valley of Keia, he found that the flames had preceded him, and had found an aperture at Teaoa, since closed up. The Kings Rangi and Mokoiro trembled for their land: for it seemed as if everything would be destroyed by the devouring flames. To save Mangaia from utter destruction, they exerted themselves to the utmost, and finally succeeded in putting out the fire. Rangi thenceforth adopted the new name of Matamea, (or “watery-eyes,”) to commemorate his sufferings; and Mokoiro was ever after called Auai (or smoke”). The inhabitants of Mangaia availed themselves of the conflagration to get fire, and to cook. But after a time the fire went out, and as they were not in possession of the secret they could not get new fire. But Maui was never without fire in his dwelling: a circumstance that excited the surprise of all. Many were the inquiries as to the cause. At length he took compassion on the inhabitants of the world, and told them the wonderful secret: that fire lies hidden in the Hibiscus, the Urtica argentea, the tauinu, and the banyan. This hidden fire might be elicited by the use of fire-sticks, which he produced. Finally, he desired them to chant the “Fire-god's Song,” to give efficacy to the use of the fire-sticks. From that memorable day all the dwellers in this upper world used fire-sticks with success, and enjoyed the luxuries of light and cooked food…. At
[Footnote] * Equivalent to saying: “The foundations of the world are on fire.”
Rarotonga, Buataranga becomes Ataranga; at Samoa, Talaga. In the Samoan dialect, Mauike becomes Mafuie.”*
Manihiki is an island situated about 600 miles north of Rarotonga. They possess the fire-gaining legend, with some difference of detail. It runs as follows:—
“On the Island of Rarotonga once lived Manuahifare and his wife Tongoifare, offspring of the god Tangaroa. Their eldest son was named Maui the First, the next Maui the Second. Then followed their sister Inaika=Ina the fish.† The youngest was a boy, Maui the Third. Like all other young Polynesians, these children delighted in the game of hide-and-seek. One day Inaika hid her pet brother, Maui the Third, under a pile of dry sticks and leaves, and then desired the elder boys to search for him. They sought everywhere in vain. Inaika at last pointed to the pile, and naturally expected to see her little brother emerge from his hiding-place, as the sticks were scattered to the right and left. The heap had disappeared, but no Maui was to be seen. What had become of him? But after a few minutes they were astonished to see him start up from under a few bits of decayed wood and some leaves which had been thoroughly searched a few seconds before. This was the first intimation of Maui the Third's future greatness. This wonderful lad had noticed that his father, Manuahifare, mysteriously disappeared at dawn of every day, and in an equally mysterious way came back again to their dwelling at night. He resolved to discover this secret, which seemed to him the more strange as, being the favourite, he slept by the side of Manuahifare, and yet never knew when or how he disappeared. One night he lay awake until his father unfastened his girdle in order to sleep. Very cautiously did Maui the Younger take up one end, and place it under himself, without attracting his father's notice. Early next morning this precocious son was roused from his slumbers by the girdle being pulled from under him. This was just as he desired; he lay perfectly still to see what would become of Manuahifare. The unsuspecting parent went, as he was wont, to the main pillar of his dwelling, and said,—
‘Oh, pillar! open, open up,
That Manuahifare may enter and descend to nether-world’ (Avaiki).
The pillar immediately opened, and Manuahifare descended. That same day the four children of Manuahifare went back to their old game of hide-and-seek. This time Maui the Younger told his brothers and sister to go outside the house, whilst he should look for some place to hide in. As soon as they were out
[Footnote] *“Myths and Songs from the South Pacific,” Rev. W. W. Gill, B.A., p. 51, et seq.
[Footnote] † See “Hina's Voyage to the Sacred Isle,” Tregear, “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xix., p. 486.
of sight, he went up to the post through which his father had disappeared, and pronounced the magic words he had overheard. To his great joy the obedient post opened up, and Maui boldly descended to the nether regions. Manuahifare was greatly surprised to see his son down there, but after saluting (literally, “smelling,”) him, quietly proceeded with his work.
“Maui the Third went on an exploring tour through these unknown subterranean regions, the entrance to which he had luckily discovered. Amongst other wonderful things, he fell in with a blind old woman bending over a fire, where her food was being cooked. In her hand she held a pair of tongs (i.e., a green cocoanut mid-rib, split open). Every now and then she carefully took up a live coal and placed it on one side, supposing it to be food, whilst the real food was left to burn to cinder in the fire! Maui inquired her name, and to his surprise found it was Inaporari, (or Ina-the-Blind,) his own grandmother! The clever grandson heartily pitied the condition of the poor old creature, but would not reveal his own name. Close to where he stood watching the futile cooking of Ina-the-Blind grew four nono trees (Morindo citrifolia). Taking up a stick, he gently struck the nearest of the four trees. Ina-the-Blind angrily said: ‘Who is that meddling with the nono belonging to Maui the Elder?’ The bold visitor to nether-world then walked up to the next tree and tapped it gently. Again the ire of Ina-the-Blind was excited, and she shouted: ‘Who is this meddling with the nono of Maui the Second?’ The audacious boy struck a third tree, and found it belonged to his sister, Inaika. He now exultingly tapped the fourth and last nono tree, and heard his old grandmother ask: ‘Who is this meddling with the nono of Maui the Third?’ ‘I am Maui the Third,’ said the visitor. ‘Then,’ said she, ‘you are my grandson, and this is your tree.’
“Now when Maui first looked at his own nono-tree, it was entirely destitute of leaves and fruit: but after Ina-the-Blind had spoken to him, he again looked, and was surprised to see it covered with glossy leaves and fine apples—though not ripe. Maui climbed up into the tree and plucked one of the apples. Biting off a piece of it, he stepped up to his grandmother and threw it into one of her blind eyes. The pain was excruciating, but sight was at once restored to the eye which had so long been blind. Maui plucked another apple, and, biting off a piece of it, threw it into the other eye of his grandmother: and lo! sight again was restored to it also. Ina-the-Blind was delighted to see again, and, in gratitude, said to her grandson, ‘All above and all below (= All on earth and all in spirit-land) are subject to thee, and to thee only.’ Ina, once called ‘the Blind,’ now instructed Maui in all things found within her territory: that as there were four species of nono, so there are four varieties of cocoanuts and four of taro in Avaiki—i.e., one for each child of
Manuahifare. Maui asked Ina, ‘Who is lord of fire?’ She replied, ‘Thy grandfather, Tangaroa-tui-mata’ (or Tangaroa-of-the-tattooed-face). ‘Where is he?’ inquired Maui. ‘Yonder,’ rejoined his grandmother; ‘but do not go to him. He is a terribly irritable fellow; you will surely perish.’ But as Maui persisted, the grateful goddess Ina said, ‘There are two roads to his dwelling. One of these is the path of death; whoever unwittingly approaches the Great Tangaroa by this path, dies: the other is the common (or “safe,” noa) road.’ Maui disdained to tread the path of safety. Knowing his own prowess, he boldly trod the path of death. Tangaroa-of-the-tattooed-face, seeing Maui advancing, raised his right hand to kill him—that hand which as yet had never failed to destroy its victim. But Maui, nothing daunted, lifted his right hand. At this, Tangaroa, not liking the aspect of Maui, raised his right foot, for the purpose of kicking to death the luckless intruder. But Maui was prepared to do the same to the Lord of Fire with his right foot. Astounded at this piece of audacity, Tangaroa demanded his name. The visitor replied, ‘I am Maui the Younger.’ The god now knew it to be his own grandson. ‘What did you come for?’ ‘To get fire,’ was the response of Maui. Tangaroa-of-the-tattooed face gave him a lighted stick, and sent him away. Maui walked to a short distance, and finding some water, like that dividing the two islets collectively called Manihiki, extinguished the lighted stick. Three times this process was repeated. The fourth time all the firebrands were gone, and Tangaroa had to fetch two dry sticks to rub together, in order to produce fire. Maui held the under one for his grandfather: but just as the fine dust in the groove was igniting, the impudent Maui blew it all away. Tangaroa, justly irritated at this, drove Maui away, and summoned a kakaia (or ‘tern,’) to come to his assistance, to hold down the lower piece of wood, whilst Tangaroa diligently worked away with the other stick. At last, to the infinite joy of Maui, fire was obtained. It was no longer a mystery. Maui suddenly snatched the upper stick, one end of which was burning, out of the hand of Tangaroa. The patient bird of white plumage still firmly clutched with her claws the under fire-stick, when Maui purposely burnt either side of the eye of the bird. The indignant tern, smarting at this illrequital, fled away for ever. Hence the black marks, resembling a pair of eyebrows, on either side of the eye of this beautiful bird to this day. Tangaroa reproached his grandson with having thus wantonly deprived him of the valuable services of his favourite bird. Maui deceitfully said, ‘Your bird will come back.’ Maui next proposed to Tangaroa that they should both fly up to daylight, through the hole by which the bird had escaped. The god inquired how this could be accomplished. Maui at once volunteered to show the way, and actually flew to
a considerable height like a bird. Tangaroa-of-the-tattooed-face was greatly delighted. Maui came down to the ground, and urged his grandfather to imitate his example. ‘Nothing,’ said Maui, ‘is easier than to fly.’ At his grandson's suggestion, Tangaroa put on his glorious girdle, by mortals called the rainbow, and, to his immense delight, succeeded in rising above the loftiest cocoanut tree. The crafty Maui took care to fly lower than Tangaroa, and getting hold of one end of the old man's girdle, he gave it a smart pull, which brought down poor Tangaroa from his giddy elevation. The fall killed Great Tangaroa.
“Pleased with his achievement in getting the secret of fire from his grandfather, and then killing him, he returned to his parents, who had both descended to nether-land. Maui told them that he had got the secret of fire, but withheld the important circumstance that he had killed Tangaroa. His parents expressed their joy at his success, and intimated their desire to go and pay their respects to the supreme Tangaroa. Maui objected to their going at once. ‘Go,’ said he, ‘on the third day. I wish to go myself to-morrow.’ The parents of Maui acquiesced in this arrangement. Accordingly, on the next day, Maui went to the abode of Tangaroa, and found the body entirely decomposed. He carefully collected the bones, put them inside a cocoanut shell, carefully closed the tiny aperture, and finally gave them a thorough shaking. Upon opening the cocoanut shell, he found his grandfather to be alive again. Liberating the divinity from his degrading imprisonment, he carefully washed him, anointed him with sweet-smelling oil, fed him, and then left him to recover strength in his own dwelling. Maui now returned to his parents, Manuahifare and Tongoifare, and found them very urgent to see Tangaroa. Again, Maui said, ‘Wait till to-morrow.’ The fact was, he greatly feared their displeasure, and had secretly resolved to make his way back to the upper world he had formerly inhabited, whilst his parents were on their visit to Tangaroa. Upon visiting the god on the morning of the third day, Manuahifare and Tongoifare were greatly shocked to find that he had entirely lost his old proud bearing, and that on his face were the marks of severe treatment. Manuahifare asked his father Tangaroa the cause of this. ‘Oh,’ said the god, ‘your terrible boy has been here ill-treating me. He killed me; then collected my bones and rattled them about in an empty cocoanut shell; he then finally made me live again, scarred and enfeebled, as you see. Alas! that fierce son of yours.’ The parents of Maui wept at this, and forthwith came back to the old place in Avaiki in quest of their son, intending to scold him well. But he had made his escape to the upper world, where he found his two brothers and his sister Inaika in mourning for him, whom
they never expected to see again. Maui the Third told them that he had made a grand discovery—he had obtained the secret of fire. He had found a new land. ‘Where is it situated?’ inquired they. ‘Down there,’ said Maui the Younger. ‘Down where?’ they demanded. ‘Down there,’ again shouted Maui. The fact was, they were not aware of the secret opening in their house leading to Avaiki. At the earnest solicitation of Maui, they all consented to follow him. Accordingly, he went to the old post of their dwelling, and said as before:—
‘O pillar! open, open up,
That we may all enter, and descend to nether world.'
At these words the wonderful pillar at once opened, and all four descended. Maui showed them all the wonders of spirit world; and when at length their curiosity was perfectly satisfied, he conducted them back to the upper world of light, to which they all properly belonged.”*
The last version of the story to be compared is that from the Marquesas. It is, in composition, extremely rough and primitive.†
“Mahuike, or Mauike, ‘goddess of fire, of earthquakes, and volcanoes,’ dwelt in Havaiki. She had no child but one, a married daughter who lived on earth: that daughter was the grandmother of Maui. Maui lived with his father and mother upon the promontory of an island, the name of which is unknown.
[Footnote] * “Myths and Songs,” page 63, et seq.
[Footnote] † I present the following lines as an example, with a literal interlinear translation:—
[Footnote] “Aitu mea ma to Maui kite te kui heke i Havaiki. [Hawaiki.
[Footnote] “The breaking-tapu affair by which Maui saw his mother descend to
[Footnote] To Maui tata i te kui,
[Footnote] Maui near his mother.
[Footnote] To te kui kite—uaua to ue i te tama i te oioi.
[Footnote] The mother looked—poured out tears on the child who slept.
[Footnote] Te tama tivava te hiamoe.
[Footnote] The child lied (pretended) sleep.
[Footnote] Tekao i te tama, Maui?” Te tama aoe tekao: hiamoe tivava.
[Footnote] Said to the child, “Maui?” The child did not speak: shammed sleep.
[Footnote] Te vahine tekao i te vahana, Aue! hakavaa.
[Footnote] The woman said to her husband, “Alas! he wakes!”
[Footnote] To te vahine tekao, Aue! taa au!
[Footnote] The woman said, “Alas! he sees me!”
[Footnote] Vahana tekao, “Aoe; Maui hiamoe.”
[Footnote] Husband says, “No; Maui sleeps.”
[Footnote] To te vahana tekao i te vahine, “Amai.”
[Footnote] The husband says to his wife, “Let us go.”
[Footnote] To te kui me te metua putamai aanui mea oa.
[Footnote] The mother, with the father, went towards the road—a distant thing.
[Footnote] Te kui kukamai veinehae to te kui to ia.”
[Footnote] The mother thought spectre of her mother.” Etc., etc.
He was an only child (poiti). He had already pondered over the want of fire, and he was tired of eating his food raw. The frequent absences of his parents during the night perplexed him; he was convinced that they went to get fire, for they always had cooked food. On one occasion his mother said to him, ‘Child, remain here; I shall return soon.’ ‘I want to go with you,’ said the child. ‘You cannot, pet (poiti); I am going to seek for fire.’ Said Maui, ‘I want to go also.’ His mother said, ‘Your ancestress will kill you if you follow me.’ When the mother went, the child followed afar off. Near the entrance to the path which led to Havaiki the mother was stopped by a bird, perched upon a kaku tree;* thinking that it was a patiotio (a bird now tapu in the Marquesas), she called her husband, and they threw stones at the bird. They could not strike it; and the woman conceived the idea that it was the form of her grandmother concealed within the bird. From this notion she was dissuaded by her husband, and they continued to throw stones, till at last they struck the winged intruder. Maui then spoke through the bird and declared his identity. The parents went on towards Havaiki by a long and winding road, the mother chewing a stick of sugar-cane as she went. Maui also penetrated through the aperture where commenced the path to the nether world; but almost at his first step perceived his grandmother, who guarded the entrance. He begged her to let him pass, but she refused to do so, and was hardened against all his entreaties. Maui asked where his mother had gone, and was answered that she had journeyed into the interior of the country. Maui, finding that she was obdurate, and would not permit him to pass, killed her. At that moment some spots of blood fell on the breast of Maui's mother as she journeyed along; and she said to her husband, ‘Someone has killed my mother.’ Maui, finding no further obstacle, descended into the bowels of the earth and went on his way. Not far on he met his mother, coming back. When she saw him, she said, ‘What have you done? You have killed my mother.’ ‘Yes,’ said Maui, ‘she would not let me pass; I want to get fire, and I am determined to obtain it.’ His father said, ‘Do not kill or injure the old goddess.’ Maui promised that he would not, and then went on till he arrived at the dwelling of Mauike. Maui said to the fire-goddess, ‘Give me some fire.’ The answer came: ‘Is it for you?’ ‘No,’ said Maui, ‘it's for your daughter.’ The old woman replied, ‘Why do you come for it? What do you want with it?’ Maui said, ‘I want to cook some bread-fruit.’ The goddess asked him to get her some husk of cocoanut. He procured this, and she then gave him fire drawn from her toes. There are several kinds of fire:
[Footnote] * This is the only tree in Nukuhiva the wood of which does not ignite by friction.
fire drawn from the knees, from the navel, etc.; of these the worst kind is that taken from the feet or legs; the sacred fire is from the head. So Maui took this fire which had issued from the toes of Mauike, and quenched it in some water. Then he returned, and asked the old woman for more. She took the cocoanut husk, and this time drew fire from her knees; this she gave to Maui, who took it away and extinguished it, as he had done with the other fire she had given him. Maui went back, and asked again. The fire-deity said: ‘You fatiguing child, you wicked boy, what have you done with the fire?’ ‘I have fallen into the water, and hurt myself,’ said Maui. Maui then received fire from her back; this he put out. Then she gave him the cocoanut husk ignited with fire from her navel; this also he extinguished. The goddess then became violently angry, and put on a most terrifying and awful aspect, a lurid and unearthly spectral form. But Maui was undaunted, and said: ‘I know all the secrets of witchcraft, and care nothing for your magical powers;’ then he took a sharp stone, and with it he cut off her head. Maui then returned to his parents, and told them what he had done. They were very angry, and lamented the death of their great relative. Maui then took the fire he had obtained: he did not at first understand its properties, but tried to kindle stones, water, etc.; at last he tried trees, and kindled the fau (Hibiscus), the vevai (cotton-wood), the keika, aukea, etc., and all trees, except the kaku tree, on which Maui had rested when he took the bird's shape.”
These are the principal legends I have been able to procure on the subject of the origin of fire, or the art of procuring it. These traditions share in a general groundwork, and in the most important points of interest. The scene is laid in Hawaiki, and the path downward shows that this Hawaiki is no earthly locality, but the dim under-world of shadowy myth. There is, however, one very important difference between the New Zealand legends and those of the other islands: in the New Zealand story, fire is already in the dwellings of men; it is only when that fire becomes extinguished by accident (or, as in Maui's case, wilfully,) that it becomes necessary for one to proceed into the bowels of the earth in order to procure a new supply; and Maui's gift to man is not of fire whereby food may be cooked, but of the knowledge concerning the ignition of wood by friction. It would seem consistent, not only with the legend but with common-sense, that in the primitive days of the human race fire was already to be seen in the dwellings of men, ages before the art of procuring fire by friction of wood or by percussion of flint had been discovered. In very many parts of the world fire is to be found, not only during violent outbreaks of pent-up energy, as in volcanic eruptions, but issuing from rifts and fissures in the ground, and burning with steady and
long-continued action. It would be easy to procure from such natural agencies sufficient fire to become the source of warmth to the body, and to ignite fuel for cooking food. This, too, may explain why it was necessary to go downward to regain the lost element; below was the great fire-source, plain to the sense of the primitive man as to our perceptions.* Whether the Maori race had its cradle in some land where such natural fires were procurable, has yet to be proven; but we must not forget that one of the most learned of our Polynesian scholars expressly affirms his opinion, that the Hawaiki of the Polynesian race (whether as source, or as temporary resting-place,) was a land near a great volcano. Judge Fomander, of Hawaii, considers that Hawa-iki was a name of Java (Hawa), translating iki in its South Marquesan sense, as “raging, furious with heat;” and then the author quotes from an ancient Marquesan song concerning this Hawaii, or Hawaiki: “Tai mamao, uta oa tu te ii”—“a distant sea (or far-off region), away inland stands the volcano.”†
The Island of Hawaii (Sandwich Islands) may also have been thus named, after the prior locality, by reason of its great volcano, Kilauea.
It would seem that no such tribal or racial locality of birthplace is necessary to account for the use of fire before the discovery of its production by the friction of wood. The classical form of the fire-raising story, as given by the oldest Greek and Latin writers, has many resemblances in detail to the Polynesian tradition. Prometheus was, like Maui, not only “the thief of fire from heaven,” but also, like Maui, “surpassed all mankind in cunning and fraud” (Lempriere). This, however, does not detract from the excellence of their character in the eyes of our simple forerunners; cunning, like that of Odysseus, had its fair share of admiration; in the words of one of our distinguished critics of Greek literature, “Even the highest conception of deity in Homer does not exclude the element of fraud.”‡ This cunning displayed itself in Prometheus by his deception of Zeus, when the choice of sacrifices was offered; and it was on account of this sacrilegious disrespect that Zeus took fire away from the earth. Thus it would seem, from the legend, that Prometheus, like Maui, only recovered the fire which had disappeared from the world. Again, Prometheus brought the sacred fire back to men “at the end of a ferula,” a phrase almost certainly meaning the end of the pointed rubbingstick
[Footnote] * cf. Tongan mofuike, “earthquake,” with Mafuie, “the fire-goddess.”
[Footnote] † “Polynesian Races,” vol. i., p. 6. I, however, think ii is equivalent to Maori riri, “angry,” the Marquesans dropping the r, but not k; ii, then, is not iki.
[Footnote] ‡ “Juventus Mundi,” by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, p. 208.
stick used for procuring fire.*
The wisdom or “cunning” of Prometheus was used for the good of men: he taught us to build cities, to use letters, to tame for service the ox and horse, to cull herbs for medicine, to navigate the sea, etc.: as, on his part, Maui proved himself a benefactor to his race by lengthening the days, (in noosing and “slowing down” the sun's too-rapid course,) in drawing up land from the ocean, and in sacrificing himself to the Great Daughter of Night (Hinenui-te-Po) in the attempt to gain immortality for men.
It is difficult to get at an accurate idea of the true parentage of Maui, if we view the whole story, not as a solar myth, but as a tradition concerning an actual personage, round about whom the mists of mythology have collected. We have, in the tales I have brought together in this paper, several different accounts of his birth and parentage. In New Zealand, the most reliable legends give Taranga as the mother, and Makeatutara as the father. In Samoa, Ti'iti'i is the hero, and Talaga (Taranga) is his father. In Mangaia, Ru was the father† and Buataranga (Bu-a-taranga) the mother of Maui. In Manihiki, Maui's father is Manuahifare, and his mother Tongoifare. The Marquesan legend does not give the name of either parent. In the Ulu genealogy of Hawaii,‡ which contains the names of many of our New Zealand heroes, etc., we find Mahuika, the firegoddess (as Hina-mahuia), falls into her proper place as Maui's grandmother, being in the twentieth generation (so-called) from Wakea (Vatea, Atea, “Daylight”) and Papa, (“the Earth,”) the primal pair. Mahuika's son is called Akalana, (A-Taranga, or Ka-Taranga,) and his wife is Hinakawea, their son being Mauiakalana, (Maui-a-Taranga,) our Maui. In some islands where Talanga or Taranga is neither father nor mother, it is he himself who procures fire; while the hero Ti'iti'i, of Samoa, in New Zealand becomes only the top-knot (tikitiki) in which Maui's mother wrapped the boy soon after his birth. I think it highly probable that our version concerning Maui being so wrapped up is a local addendum engrafted on the original story, as an effort to explain etymology of an obscure term—a source of mythology from which has flowed a constant current of legends; this especially, as none other of the Polynesian accounts allude to it, so far as I can find. Tiki is a venerable name in the Pacific. In New Zealand, Tiki appears either as the Creator of man, or else as himself the first man created by Tane; and his carved
“Hid in a hollow cane the fount of fire
I privately conveyed, of every art
Productive, and the noblest gift to man.”
[Footnote] † In New Zealand, Ru is the earthquake-god. In Tahiti, Ru is the brother of Hina, and is either Rupe or Maui himself.
[Footnote] ‡ Fornander, loc. cit., page 191.
simulacrum was the most widely-diffused religious emblem in these islands, tiki being used as a common name for all such carvings. To the farthest bounds of Eastern Polynesia the same cult extended. Moërenhoüt, writing of Easter Island, says that on visiting the little island of Ravaivai he there found precisely similar statues to those of Easter Island, and they were in the same neglected condition. The figures, like those at Easter, Libuai, Pitcairn, Tubuai, etc., were raised on platforms at extremities of the low lands. The natives called them Tii-one and Tii-papa, (Tiki-one and Tiki-papa,) “guardians of earth and rock;” in fact, the Latin Termini. They were, apparently, not gods of the highest order, but tikis, marking boundaries, and keeping the limits of gods and men, dead and living.* A Marquesan legend also states that Tiki was the name of the lord or chief of the canoes when the migration from the westward arrived at Nukuhiva: his name appears in the genealogies of all Polynesian peoples.†
Before quitting this part of the subject, it would be well not to forget that Taranga's personal identity is somewhat shaken by the Hawaiian tradition that the land whence the Polynesians came was called Kahiki-ku (in Maori letters, Tawhiti-tu), or “the large continent to the east of Kalana-i-Hau-ola,” or “the place where the first members of mankind were created.”‡ This last-named place would read in Maori as Taranga-i-hauora, or “Taranga with the life-breath;” and would make Maui's mother (or father) a mere locality-name, although of a very sacred character. According to Mr. John White, the Hau-ora (or Wai-ora) is the name of the third heaven, and is
[Footnote] * See “Les Polynesiens,” Lesson, p. 294.
[Footnote] † It would also seem that, in comparison with the New Zealand words: tiki, “a deity;” tikitiki, “a top-knot,” etc., we should consider as a variant our tiketike, “high, lofty;” the Samoan ti'eti'e, “to be seated on high;” the Hawaiian kiekie, “high, lofty, exalted, holy;” the Tahitian faa-tietie, “glory, honour, to boast,” etc.; this concurrence appearing to show a radical (✓ TIK) implying a supreme chief and leader. As a possible explanation, I therefore offer a suggestion (and a suggestion only) that Maui's title implies that he was the leader of the Polynesian expedition into the Pacific. Ka is Hawaiian for the definite article “the” (which in Maori letters would be ta, perhaps an old form of te); thus, Maui-Tikitiki-a-ta-ranga would mean “Maui, Chief of the Fleet.” In Sanscrit, taranga means “a waving, a motion to and fro;” tarana, “a raft or boat”—both these evidently connected with tara, “who or what passes over or beyond; passing over; a crossing; a passage”—thus giving an Asiatic value to this word as signifying “migration.” I offer this idea to those of the realistic school who abhor the solar myth theory; the “Euhemerists.” (See “Primitive Culture,” Tylor, vol. i., p. 252.) On the other hand, to their opponents, I offer a possible explanation of Maui's name as perhaps meaning “Light-seeker,” Ma-ui; ma, or mah, being a very widely-spread name for “light” in the ancient world, and ui meaning “to inquire.” It would be a most appropriate name for our fire-seeking hero.
[Footnote] ‡ Fornander, loc. cit, p. 23.
the place whence the spirit of a man comes to him at birth.* There is also a curious coincidence in Tiki being “the Creative Being,” or “the first created being;” and Taranga (Kalana), “the place of creation,” while Maui unites both in his title—Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga.
A remarkable variation of the parent-name is given in the Manihiki legend, in which Maui's father is called Manuahifare. Literally, the name means “Bird-fire-house,” and this gives a wonderfully succinct and abbreviated precis of the whole story. But manu means not only “a bird,” but something of far greater consequence: it means “a spirit”—sometimes a spirit incarnate in the bird, but also sometimes a spirit in its invisible possession.†
Thus, in the Mangaian story of Ina,‡ “a divine spirit (manu) entered and took possession of Ina;” and again, “it was the might of Tinirau that inspired her with a manu, or strange spirit.”§ Maui became either a dove or a hawk when on this adventure in search of fire. In Mr. Wohlers’ fire-getting tradition (before spoken of), Maui is a dove when seeking the fire, and a hawk when returning; and Mr. White especially notices that the hawk was the child of Mahuika (as Maui was), and itself the god of fire. We must look to very ancient beliefs for explanation, if we wish to find out why Maui assumed the bird-dress when descending to the bowels of the earth, and why this bird-dress was that of the dove. I have already called attention, in the story of Hina, to the similarity between the transformation of Maui and his brother Rupe into doves having Aryan affinities in the Teutonic stories of swan-maidens, dovemaidens, etc.∥
[Footnote] * “Ancient History of the Maori,” vol. i., Appendix.
[Footnote] † The Polynesian use of the word “manu,” as any animal, beast, reptile, insect, etc., appears to be generally a modern corruption. The primal meaning, “to float,” shows its inapplicability to any such bestowal.
[Footnote] ‡ See “Hina's Voyage to the Sacred Isle,” “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” vol. xix., p. 493.
[Footnote] § loc. cit., p. 495.
[Footnote] ∥ Philological.—The word rupe, a general Polynesian word for the pigeon is probably connected radically with the corresponding Aryan words. The old English words cushat, “a wood pigeon,” and cooscot, “the wood-pigeon,” (“Obs. and Archaic Dict.,” Wright, vol. i., p. 339) seem mere sound words, like the Cumberland coo, “to call,” and are probably connected with the pigeon's note, as are the Hawaiian kuhukuhu, “a dove,” and manuku (manuku), “a dove;” the Samoan 'u 'u (kuku), “to cry as a child;” Tongan kulukulu, “a small kind of dove,” etc. The English word “dove” (Ang. Sax. dufa) is from the Old Saxon duva; Old High German tuba, the German taube “a dove” (Skeat, “Ety. Dict.”); the original sense meaning “to dive” (dufan), from the bird's habit of ducking its head. This would show the reason philologists have for associating the Latin columba, “a dove,” with the Greek kolumbao (κολνμβáω), “I dive.” It may, perhaps, be worthy of attention to consider whether another Latin word for dove, palumba, or palumbe, if placed beside columba, does not show that the original part of each word is lumba (pa-lumba, co-lumba). In Aryan languages m and p, or m and v, or m and b, interchange continually: the Celtic mor and vor, “great;” Welsh moel and foel, “a hill;” Irish mean and bean, “a woman;” Latin tumeo and tubeo, glomus and globus; as familiar examples in English, Molly and Polly, Meg and Peg. But this interchange points to a probable indistinct, primitive, double consonant mb or mp: sounds so often found in simple languages, where, instead of getting distinct letter-sounds, we have highly complicated ones, like the Hottentot clicks, etc., the tch, ng, mb, etc. The Fijians (Melanesians) have this ancient compound consonant mb; every b is mb; thus the word we write Bau is pronounced Mbau, Bulotu is Mbulotu, etc. In the Polynesian dialects the m and v or m and p constantly interchange (mavete, wewete; mafao, fafao; malemo, paremo; milo, wilo, etc.), though they cannot say mb. If, in the case of the “dove” word, the Latin has kept this ancient consonant, then pa-lumbe and co-lumba become pa-lube and co-luba; this lube equalling the Tongan lube, the Samoan lupe, the Tahitian rupe, i.e. “pigeon.” If, on the other hand, this derivation or comparison is not upheld on further investigation; should it be made certain that columba means “the diver,” as κoλνμβáω (palumba remaining unaccounted for), then this side of the meaning shows itself also in the Maori languages. The German taube, “a dove,” with its meaning “to dive and duck the head,” (See Kluge, “Etymologisches Wörterbuch,”) is in Maori taupe, “to bend down,” “bending the head,” variable; in Tahitian, taupe, “to bend down,” applied to the head; in Tongan, taube, “to bend down;” in Samoan, taupe, “to swing.” And this meaning of swinging, bowing or bending the head, is plainly connected with the lube (rupe) pigeon-word; for while in Tongan lube means “pigeon,” lubelube is “to swing, or swag,” as in carrying anything along.
But the choice of this form for a deity or demi-god, especially in the fire-gaining story, goes deeper still:—
(Egypt.)—“The spirits wore the forms of human-headed birds. The bird was an emblem of breath, or soul. The breath was the mover to and fro in the body; and in death, its types—the bird and the feather—were clung to as emblematical of the spirit…. The dove was retained in Israel as the bird of breath, the type of the soul. In the Osirian cult, the hawk was the symbol of the soul. The sun was depicted with the hawk-head, but in the 12th chapter of the ‘Metamorphoses,’ Ritual 76–88, the turtle-dove is one of the types into which Osiris, the deceased, makes his transformation.”*
I think it, therefore, by no means a mere story-teller's fancy that gave to Maui first the dove-shape, then that of the “hawk of soul,” or fire.
That certain trees should have been selected by the Polynesians (differing in each legend according to the vegetable growth of the locality) as those into which “the seed of fire” was placed by Maui, is but natural; it would not escape the observation of the shrewd natives that certain kinds of timber were more inflammable than others. But the expression “seed of fire” is remarkable as being an idiom preserved among
[Footnote] * “Book of the Beginnings,” Massey, vol. ii., pp. 92, 93. See also former paper, “Polynesian Alphabets,” Tregear (p. 353, ante).
Europeans, and with curious word-relationships in Polynesia. As examples of European use, I may quote the “Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts,” by P. Kennedy:—
“Just as the plough-irons were becoming red-hot, someone tried the latch of the door, and immediately they saw the face of the witch outside the window. ‘What do you want, good woman?’ ‘The seed of the fire, and I want to help you at the churning,'” etc. (p. 152.) Again, “But every Holy Eve during their lives they threw the water out as soon as their feet were washed, unbanded the wheel, swept up the house, and covered the big coal to have the seed of fire next morning” (p. 165).
In the sacred books of the ancient Persians the same idea may be found. The xviii. Fargard of the “Vendidad” (Zend-Avesta), 52 (112), says: “Then shalt thou call his name ‘Fire-creature,’ ‘Fire-seed,’ ‘Fire-offspring,’ ‘Fire-land,’ or any name wherein there is fire.” Thus it would appear that “fire-seed” was an idiom well-known to both the European and Asiatic branches of the Aryan stock. In Maori the word purapura, meaning “seed,” is evidently connected in some way with “fire.” In New Zealand, pura does not mean fire; but in composition it does so, as may be seen in kapura and mapura (ka-pura and ma-pura), both words for “fire.”* In Hawaiian, pula means “a small particle” of anything, as dust; pulapula is (1) “the tops of sugar-cane cut for planting,” (2) “a devotee,” (3) “anger,” “revenge;” in this dialect the connection both with “seed” and “fire” has been weakened. In Samoan we have pula, “to shine,” “to be yellow,” as ripe fruit; but in Tahitian we have the fullest sense on both sides of the word: pura means “a spark of fire,” “a flash of fire or light,” “to flash,” “to blaze;” purara, “dispersion;” faa-purara, “to scatter,” “spread abroad;” haa-purara (whaka-purara), “to make sparks fly,” “to spread abroad,” “a disperser.” It seems almost certain that the sowing, scattering abroad as of seed, is the scattering of sparks, the “fire-seed” in its original sense. I have in a former paper (“Hina,” etc.) expressed my belief that the Maori ura, “to glow,” is from the original world-spread root ur, or, aur, etc., used all over the ancient world. I find that certain scholars consider that the Latin uro had originally a b before it, from the words found in composition, as comburo, amburo, bustum, etc. I do not think that this is altogether proven, as I believe the root bur to be ur with the digamma sound prefixed; but should it prove to be the case, then buro compares with the Greek pur or pyr (πvρ), “fire,” and is a sister of the Polynesian pura, “fire.” There is a clear connection between gold and sun-worship; gold, the or (aurum) of old days: “The sacredness of gold seems indicated by Pindar, who,
[Footnote] * Mura, mumura, etc., “to blaze,” is the m to p (the mb or mp) variant.
invoking Theia, the mythical mother of the sun-god, exclaims: ‘Through thee it is that mortals esteem mighty gold above all things else!’”*
Mr. Robert Brown, F.S.A., in his learned and interesting treatise, “The Myth of Kirkě,”† remarks: “The links between gold and solar divinities are endless, and the circumstances supplied a natural basis for the commercial value of the metal.” Elsewhere the same writer observes:‡ “The bright solar divinities are, of course, rich in gold, a metal originally owing its importance to its yellow (sun) colour, which made it at once semi-sacred and symbolic long ere it received an artificial commercial value.”§
None of the radicals in classic languages show the etymological relation between sun and gold, but the Maori ura, “to glow,” discloses the ra of Ra, “the sun,” with the ur, “shining, glowing,” word. I do not by this mean to imply that the Polynesians were acquainted with gold (though no one can disprove even this), but I think that there is a high probability that the word, in its Polynesian form, was applied to that metal when discovered and used by men in Central Asia.
In referring to the “Cosmogony of Sanconiathon,” said to be a history from the sacred books of the Phœnicians, after mentioning how Phos, Pur, and Phlox (Light, Fire, and Flame) made the discovery of fire by rubbing wood, Mr. Blackett says:∥ “And Usous having taken a tree and broken off the boughs, made a boat, and first ventured on the sea. And he consecrated two pillars to ‘fire’ and ‘the wind,’ and worshipped them, and poured out upon them the blood of wild beasts which he took in hunting; and when these men were dead consecrated rods to them and worshipped the pillars.” This is a singular coincidence of ancient ceremonial with that of the Maoris; they in their worship setting up rods (mauri or toko-mauri) in their small temples or shrines (tuaahu). If the pillars were set up to “Fire” and “Wind,” a similar word to the Maori hau, “wind,” was probably used (hau was a very common word in old Maori incantations, as whangai-hau, etc.), some cognate word being used ages ago in Asia: “I there drew attention to the Assyrian name for ‘wind,’ aiv (haiv), au (hau), root ✓ ‘to blow.’”¶ And the pillar to Fire, if not called pur (see Blackett, l.c.), πμρ, or pu-ra, would also probably be called ra, as even to-day
[Footnote] * Pind. Isthm., iv., 1.
[Footnote] † Page 159 (Note).
[Footnote] ‡ “Eridanus,” p. 49 (Note 4).
[Footnote] § “Gold-worship,” Dr. F. A. Paley, “Contemp. Review,” Aug., 1884, p. 271.
[Footnote] ∥ “Lost Histories of America,” p. 104.
[Footnote] ¶ “The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament,” Eberhard Schrader, p. 25.
in Central Asia this word obtains. Referring to pillars made of stones placed on each other in regular order, it is said: “This emblem is also to be found in China and Thibet inscribed with Sanscrit letters, which serve further to designate the parts. Thus the lowest, marked a, means the ‘earth;’ the circle, va, stands for ‘water;’ the triangle, ra, ‘fire.’”* (Maori, cf. ao, “the earth;” wai, “water;” ra, “sun.”)
The ura word descended from antiquity into the most common of those Aryan myths which have given us such lovely stories as the bases of classic poetry. If the theory of the solar mythologists is correct, the myths of the Dawn, and of the Sun chasing the Dawn and conquering the Darkness, are the foundations of the greater part of our pre-historic legends. Max Müller says: “Hence we find that names beginning with uru in Sanscrit and with ∊νρν in Greek are almost invariably names of the Dawn, or Twilight.† Names of the Dawn are Euryphaessa, the mother of Helios; Eurykyde, or Eurypyle, the daughter of Endymion; Eurymede, the wife of Glaucus; Eurynome, the mother of the Charites; and Eurydike, the wife of Orpheus.”‡
But side by side with the polished versions deifying the shining light, existed an actual worship of the sun and fire deities which we are not accustomed to consider as descending to almost modern days. We are apt to forget that the Romans, though acknowledging a whole pantheon of deities, (and not absolutely fire-worshippers in the sense in which the Parsees are thus to be considered,) paid the very greatest respect to those fire-deities having charge of the domestic hearth—the Vesta, or Hestia worship; the devotion to the Lares. It may be urged that the Lar-worship was entirely a worship of the spirits of ancestors, however cloaked under differing names—as the Genius, Lares, Penates, Vesta, or Manes. The pitris, or “fathers,” were worshiped by the Sanscrit-speaking peoples, the Sama-Veda being devoted to the ceremonial directions. The old Slavonians also paid their devotion to the ancestral spirits: “There is no doubt as to their belief that the souls of the fathers watched over their children, and their children's children; and that, therefore, departed spirits, and especially those of ancestors, ought always to be regarded with pious veneration, and sometimes solaced by prayer and sacrifice.”§
Dr. Shortland has very ably∥ shown the close parallelism between the worship of the manes and of the Maori ancestral
[Footnote] * “Tree and Serpent Worship,” Fergusson, p. 115.
[Footnote] † cf. Maori uru, “the west.”—E.T.
[Footnote] ‡ “Chips from a German Workshop,” vol. ii., p. 112.
[Footnote] § “Songs of Russia,” Ralston, p. 126.
[Footnote] ∥ “Maori Religion and Mythology,” chap. i.
spirits; but there is more in the subject of interest unexhausted, particularly the connection between the house spirit and fire. “In the “Avesta” (Spiegel's “Avesta,” by Bleeck, vol. iii., p. 181), Asha-Vashista, the genius of fire, is designated as “the house-companion of human beings.” The Latin writers use “hearth” and “lar” as synonymous. Virgil* uses the terms “Lares” and “Penates”† indifferently, as the verse happens to require, and habitually associates the house spirit with the fire on the hearth, and the “canœ penetralia Vestœ.”‡
“‘The true temples of the Etruscans,’ it has been observed, ‘were the tombs’ (Taylor's “Etruscan Researches,” p. 49); practically, the real objects of their worship were the Lares, or spirits of their ancestors. Each house had its lararium, where the master of the household offered prayer and worship every morning, and sacrifice occasionally. In the Theodosian code it was provided that no one should any longer worship his lar with fire (nullus Larem igne veneretur).”§
“Men worshipped the house spirit on the hearth at a time when they perfectly understood that Dyaus meant ‘the blue sky,’ and that Varuna, or Ouranos, was ‘the arch of heaven.’ Centuries after the common apartment of the primitive house had disappeared, and separate rooms were assigned in spacious mansions for the purpose of domestic life, the old altar, the symbol of the holy hearth, survived, as the houses of Pompeii still show, undisturbed, in the atrium. All the changes of thought and feeling which marked the rise of the empire were impotent against the Lar. Horace, Ovid, Petronius, (See “La Cité Antique,” p. 24) free-thinkers in principle and sensualists in practice, duly celebrated the worship of the hearth.”∥
Even when the ancestral spirits had been degraded into mere domestic goblins and pixies, it was with the hearth they had special connection. Speaking of the German House-Spirit, the Kobold, Grimm¶ says: “We can often trace in them a special relation to the hearth of the house, from beneath which they often came forth, and where the door of their subterranean dwelling seems to have been: they are peculiarly hearth-gods.”
From these examples, it will be clearly seen that if the Aryans were not fire-worshippers, pure and simple, they paid
[Footnote] * æneid, v., 743, and ix., 259.
[Footnote] † In lar, probably, the vowel sound ā has been broadened from la to lar. If so, then compare Maori ra, Hawaiian la, Tongan laa, all meaning “the Sun;” also with penates, “the care-takers.” (cf. the Maori pena, “to take care of,” “to cherish.”)
[Footnote] ‡ “The Aryan Household,” W. E. Hearn, p. 51.
[Footnote] § “Religions of the Ancient World,” G. Rawlinson, p. 194.
[Footnote] ∥ Hearn, loc. cit., p. 56.
[Footnote] ¶ “Deutsche Mythologie,” vol. i., p. 468.
somewhat of adoration to that element, and to the θ∊oι ∊φ∊στιoι or “gods of the hearth.” This comes out most strongly in the accounts of the religious ceremonies wherein the fire—the “new-fire,” or “need-fire,” aqni, or by whatever name called, was born from the friction of one piece of wood against another. “Emile Burnouf, in his excellent work, “La Science des Religions,” just published, says: ‘The 卍 (swastika) represents the two pieces of wood laid upon one another before the sacrificial altars, in order to produce the holy fire (agni), and whose ends were bent round at right angles and fastened by means of iron nails 卍 so that this wooden scaffolding might not be moved. At the point where the two pieces of wood were joined there was a small hole, in which a third piece of wood in the form of a lance (called pramantha), was rotated by means of a cord made of cow's hair and hemp, till fire was generated by friction. The father of the holy fire (agni) is Twastri, i.e., the divine carpenter who made the swastika and the pramantha, by the friction of which the divine child was produced. The pramantha was afterwards transformed by the Greeks into Prometheus, who they imagined stole fire from heaven, so as to instil into earth-born man the bright spark of the soul. The mother of the holy fire is the divine Maja, who represents the productive forces in the form of a woman;* every human being has his maja. Scarcely has the weak spark escaped from its mother's lap—that is from the swastika, which is likewise called mother, and is the place where the divine Maja principally dwells—when it, agni, receives the name of child.”†
It is of interest to note that the name given as that of the Father of Fire is Tvastri (spelt sometimes Tvachtri, Twachtrei, etc., by European writers). The word means “a carpenter,” and is referred to as possessing this meaning by many philologists and mythologists, such as Kuhn, Max Müller, and others. It is Tvastri who forges the thunderbolts of Indra, and all the different implements peculiar to the deities of Hindustan, but he is sometimes regarded as being himself the Creator. That he, as Creator, was spoken of by such a title as “the Carpenter” is certain, since so many eminent Sanscrit scholars declare this to be the fact; but I cannot believe that any such mode of thought was even possible to a primitive people. A nation must have advanced a long way up the scale of progress and improvement for an artisan, working either in wood or metals, to have existence, much more for the name to have acquired honour as an appellative. We must look back through these misleading mists of civilization to try
[Footnote] * Maja, Maia, or Maya. cf. the Tahitian maia, “a midwife,” and Maori maea, “to emerge.”
[Footnote] † “Troy and its Remains,” Schliemann, p. 103.
and catch some glimpse of a race just emerging from the deepest barbarism, unacquainted with any forces except natural forces; and it is among the names of these natural forces that we should look for that of the great Father of Fire. I believe that a suggestion which I now make will receive very grave consideration, in regard to the meaning of this name of Tvastri. The effect of lightning were not known to the ancient world: it was the thunder in which mischief was supposed to reside: the thunderbolt from the hand of Jove, of Indra, or of Perkunas. That the Thunderer, the wielder of Celestial Fire, should be father of the earth-born fire caused by the friction of wood, would be in perfect keeping with all we can imagine of applicability in the primitive mind. That the word might afterwards grow to mean “artificer” or “workman” (in a secondary or tertiary sense) is possible; but that the Creator and the Wielder of the Thunderbolt should be considered as one and the same person is not only highly probable, but we have direct testimony from Oriental and European classics that such was the case. We should look, then, to a language having internal evidence of simplicity, if we seek for simple names of natural forces, and we shall find no such language for our purpose so good as the Polynesian, the untainted speech of an isolated people. Here we have the thunder-deity as Whaitiri, or Whatitri. Is it possible to trace a phonetic connecting link between Tvastri and Whaitiri? If we turn to a comparative table of Polynesian dialects, in the Appendix to Mr. Turner's “Samoa, a Hundred Years Ago,” we shall find a very close link. In the Island of Vaté (or Faté), lying in the track between us and Asia, the word for thunder is vatshiri. The connection between Whaitiri, vatshiri, and Tvastri must be undoubted: an important point being that only in Maori is the etymology of the word transparent.*
To return for a short time to the fire-cross. Mr. N. Joly† says: “In his interesting work upon the origin of fire (‘Die Herabkunst des Feuers') Adalbert Kuhn always designates the swastika [shown with two different diagrams—E.T.] by the name of arani, and he considers them both as the principal religious symbols of our Aryan ancestors.” He adds: “This
[Footnote] * The Malay, who has many Sanscrit words (most of late introduction, with the Brahminical, Buddhistic, etc., religions), calls the thunder guruh. This word is probably akin to the Tongan gulu, “to make a muttering, grumbling sound;” in New Zealand Maori, nguru, “to rumble.” If the Malay guruh is akin to the Sanscrit gulu, “great,” “extended,” it bears some relation to the ✓ tan, “stretched out,” which philologists say is the origin of the thunder-words in Aryan. (See Skeat, “Ety. Dict.,” p. 735; “Science of Thought,” Max Müller, App.) Tangi, the Maori word “to wail, lament,” is in the Tongan tagi, “to lament,” but tagitagi is “stretched out to the uttermost.”
[Footnote] † “Man before Metals,” p. 189.
If we consider this arani symbol as a fact, we shall find significance in the words of Sir H. Rawlinson,‡ when he says: “The primitive meaning of ar was ‘fire.’ … The Aryans generally appear to have been sun- or fire-worshippers, and probably they received their name from the fact. This would seem more probable than the ordinary derivation from the root ar, ‘to plough;’ and it would include the sense of ‘noble’ preferred by Mr. Peile, ‘children of the sun’ being usually a special title of the priestly or royal caste.”
Can we find these Arani in Polynesia? I will take the evidence of the late M. Lesson.§ He, quoting P. A. Lesson in the “Voyage aux Iles Mangareva,” says that it is idle to attempt to give a date for the establishment of the Polynesian race on these islands. They report themselves as “a colony of immigrants descended from a great people called Arani.” Who were these Arani from whom the Polynesians were descended? Is it certain that there is no connection between them and the Aryan users of the Arani “fire-symbol?”
[Footnote] * I would direct the attention of Maori scholars to the fact (doubtless a very natural one) that the same idea of kindling the divine spark and of sexual reproduction obtains among the Maori races. Hika, the word meaning “to kindle fire by friction,” also means “coitus,” or did formerly possess this meaning. As an example, I may adduce the old legend of the arrival of the Tainui canoe in the Great Migration. [See Govt. pamphlet, G. 8, 1880; J. White.] The immigrant Maoris were unable to drag the canoe across the portage at Otahuhu, because the gods were angry on account of a sin committed by Marama, one of the chief women of the canoe, with her slave. The others did not know the cause of the canoe remaining immovable until the chieftainess chanted a song in which occurred the words: “Turuturu mai ra te wai o te hika o Marama,” a phrase by which, says the native narrator (Hoani Nahe, M.H.R.), her offence became known. Compare also ahi, “fire,” and ai, “coitus.”
[Footnote] † It is acknowledged that there is no certain derivation for “swastika.” If the Maori, as I believe, has kept more truly than any others to the old Aryan or pre-Aryan speech, the meaning may be as follows:—The Maori, like the Persians, do not use the sibilant: swastika, without the two s letters, would be whatika: that is, in Maori, whati, “bent at an angle, or elbow,” and ka, “to kindle fire.” The swastika was a fire-kindling cross, with ends bent at angles.
[Footnote] † “Jour. Anth. Soc.,” vol. i., p. 366.
[Footnote] § “Les Polynésiens,” vol. ii., p. 268.