Volume 48 1939 > Volume 48, No. 189 > The Tuamotuan creation charts by Paiore, by Kenneth P. Emory, p 1-29
THE TUAMOTUAN CREATION CHARTS BY PAIORE
THE Tuamotuan creation chart by Paiore, dated 1869, presented by J. L. Young in the Journal of the Polynesian Society for December, 1919, 1 has been seriously misunderstood through errors in transcription and paucity of information. The discovery of a hitherto unknown Paiore chart, a close study of a similar chart and of the account of creation given by Paiore, enable us, in the light of data recently acquired by the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, to understand correctly Paiore's contributions.
F. W. Christian in his Eastern Pacific Lands, published in London in 1910, reproduces a photograph of the original chart. 2 In entire ignorance concerning the photograph, he describes it as:
“A piece of Rarotongan wood-carving representing the tradition of the stealing of fire from the Sun (Rá) by Maui, the Polynesian Prometheus. It is probably a rude copy of an ancient hieroglyphical record, either Cushite, Babylonian or Egyptian. Possibly the original was a parchment.”
The photograph which Christian reproduces was from the same negative as Young's photograph on which the chart appearing in the Polynesian Journal is based. The original negative was in the possession of Mr. L. Spitz of Papeete, in 1934, and in that year I obtained a print from him for the B. P. Bishop Museum. Young says that the photograph was taken in 1892, when he made the following note: 3
“It is said that the drawing was made with a stick in the sand by Paiore, an aged tuhunga—wise man, who lived at Takaroa island, but who was a native of Anaa, and that the drawing was copied by a young relative who had been - 2 to school at Papeete: the inscription it is said was dictated by Paiore in the Tuamotuan dialect, but written by the young man in Tahitian.”
From published government records we know that Paiore was a high chief of Anaa, a descendant of a famous Anaa chief, Mahanga-tuaira, and that in 1860 he was serving as regent of the Tuamotus. 4 Arbousset, a Protestant missionary who met Paiore in 1864, speaks of him as a Protestant convert and an educated native who then appeared to be not more than fifty years of age 5. Arbousset quotes a French government publication as saying of Paiore, “He is one of those rare natives knowing well the islands from the point of view of navigation and able to make use of charts.” 6 A letter Paiore wrote Arbousset testifies to Paiore's ability to write. 7 Thus we see that Paiore was capable of drawing the chart on paper himself and of writing what appears on the chart. He was not an aged man in 1869, the date of his chart, but probably a little over fifty years of age.
A French naval officer, X. Caillet, who was stationed at Anaa as Resident Administrator of the Tuamotu archipelago from 29th December, 1869, to 11th April, 1870, 8 received from Paiore, but probably at an earlier date, an account of creation which he turned over to Miss Teuira Henry in 1890, and which she presented in her Ancient Tahiti. 9 The original illustration of the Tuamotuan universe which accompanied this account was missing when the B. P. Bishop Museum published Ancient Tahiti, and therefore Paiore's 1869 chart, as it appeared in the Polynesian Journal, was substituted for it. By chance Mr. Edward Ahnne, for many years president of the Société des Etudes Océanienne, at Papeete, came across the original Caillet chart among some possessions of Miss Henry which had come to his family, and this chart he turned over to me in 1929 for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum.
The Caillet chart (fig. 1) has very significant differences with Paiore's 1869 chart (fig. 2), which does not properly belong with the account that Paiore gave Caillet. The Caillet chart would seem to be an earlier one, for the Paiore 1869 chart is clearly an elaboration of it. The Caillet chart has three horizontal strata in contrast to the ten of Paiore's- 3
FIG. 1- 4
Copy of drawing in Bishop Museum made by French naval officer Xavier Caillet (Resident Administrator of the Tuamotus, 1869-1870) from information or drawing furnished by Paiore of Anaa island. For A, B, C, D and A', B', C', the legend is missing. For a, Caillet has a pencil note in French, “comme les pierres”; for a' or b' he has written, “nom de cette Pierre” through which he has passed a line, evidently writing the legend elsewhere. From Paiore's text (Henry, p. 347) it is clear that a and b represent Te Tumu (The Foundation) and Te Papa (The Stratum-rock) enclosed in the first stage of the universe, which was like an egg; and a' and b' represent Te Tumu and Te Papa remaining on the lowest layer after the bursting of the primal world. c, Tania (?); d, Tohio (?); e, Kana; f, Pepe; g, Titi- (?) mataitoo; h, Pinao [=Pingao]; i Ta[nga]roa-i-te-Po (who, according to Paiore's text, attempted to set fire to the skies but was overcome by the three, Ruanuku, Ru, and Tamarua), 1, [ha]ari [coconut]; 2, ava; 3, ofe; [bamboo]; 4, mara [mara tree]; 5, varo [kavaro bush]; 6, e houfi [ufi, yam]; 7, meia [banana]; 8, pua'a [pig]; 9, uri [dog]; 10, fare [Pandanus]; 11, nono [nono tree]; 12, e toi [tou ? tree]; 13, manu, e kura [a kura bird]; 14, fourmi [ant]; 15, e rori [sea cucumber]., Opposite the left column of figures is written “hommes blancs” and opposite the right column “hommes noir” Next to each of the figures is written a name., Left column, commencing at bottom, Tane-nui, Tane-iti, Tane-paku, Tane-te-[h]ihiri, Tane-te-rarama, Tane-to-a [h] u, Tane-tu-roto, Tane-toto-i [h] o, Tane-toto-ake, Tane-ma-Ruanuku, Tane-tu-a [h] u, Tane-tu-roto, Right column, commencing at bottom, Ru-roa, Ru-poto, Ru-farara, Ru-takoto, Ru-i-te-vai, Ru- [h] i [h] inga, Ru-tua-puku, Ru-tua-nohu, Ru-nui, Ru-te-ao, Ru-faua, Ru-te-au
1869 chart, and we find printed in the Annuaire Etablissements Français de l'Océanie for 1863 some information which parallels the account given by Paiore to Caillet and which undoubtedly was supplied the Annuaire through Paiore, for obviously Paiore furnished the data for the historical sketch of Anaa in the same work. This is what is contained in the Annuaire: 10:
“According to the ancient tradition, the earth was composed of three layers superposed. Each of these layers has its own sky: the upper layer is designed for happy souls, the living inhabited the middle layer, and in the third layer wandered the souls in distress. However, many of the restless souls escaped by hiding in birds….”
FIG 2- 5
Copy of a photograph in Bernice P. Bishop Museum, taken in 1892, of Paiore's chart dated 1869. (The arrows indicating to which strata each name applies have been added by me). Attention should be called to the circle of dots at the centre and base of the chart, which, from Caillet's chart, fig. 1, we know represents the world in its primary unformed stage. For short inscription written below the chart by Paiore see note 13a.
FIG. 3.- 6
After an illustration appearing in Les Missions Catholiques, July, 1874 (Montiton, p. 339), entitled, “Design imagined by the natives to represent their cosmogony, after a drawing by R. P. Albert Montiton.” Undoubtedly from an Anaa chart, see fig. 1. This is Montiton's legend (my translation): 1, Tane, with stones, breaks a hole through the firmament; 2, the people of Tane soften the heavens to open up a passage for him; 3, the ngati Ru lift the firmament with their backs; 4, they lift it higher, to the height of their arms; 5, mounting one upon the other, they succeed in putting it in place; then, 6, the Pigao till it; 7, the Titi nail it; 8, the Pepe bore into it; 9, the Moho sweep it; 10, Maui, armed with the fishhook with which he fished up Tahiti [but see fig. 1, i, for correct identity]; 11, form of the fishhook [see fig. 1, a, for correct identity]; 12, Maui on the look-out for the sun; 13, the earth producing plants and animals. (In the illustration as reproduced in Les Mission Catholique, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are repeated a number of times around the same circle).
In the above account we see the influence of Christian teaching in the heaven for happy souls and an underworld for “souls in distress.” Paiore's account to Caillet begins, 11 “The universe was like an egg … it at last burst and produced three layers superposed one below propping two above.” And the account ends, 12 “The spirits of the wicked went down to dwell with Tangaroa, those of the good soared up to the higher regions.”
In believing that Caillet's account from Paiore and his chart antedate Paiore's 1869 chart, it is necessary to believe Caillet had an opportunity to be in contact with Paiore, either at Anaa or in Papeete, earlier than the time of his residence at Anaa as administrator (1869-1870). From what we know of Caillet previous to 1869, this is quite likely. He came to French Oceania in 1842, and in 1853 was put in charge of accurately locating and describing the islands of the eastern part of the Tuamotuan archipelago. 13
The change from three strata in the chart recorded by Caillet, to the ten strata in Paiore's 1869 chart, allows for the stages in the evolution of the world contained in creation chants or recitations such as we found written in an Anaa manuscript, in another manuscript probably from the neighbouring atoll Kaukura, and in a manuscript book from the island of Fangatau.14
The recitation from Anaa, in the private book of genealogies of our Anaa informant, Paea, who kindly let us copy it shortly after we became acquainted with him, is as follows:
Enumeration of the foundations or sources of the world (E tumu henua)—
Tumu-Po, a land (e henua); Tumu-Ao, a sky (e arorangi).
Tumu-Haruru, a land; Tumu-Ngatata, a sky.
Te Pou-henua, a land; Rangi-take, a sky.
Matau-heti, a land; Te Kohuariki, a sky.
(O) rovaru, a land; Turi-hono, a sky.
(Kororupo, a land; Te Tumu-Kuporu, a sky). 15
Tuaraki, a land; Tu-rikiriki, a sky.
Havaiki, a land; Peaha, a sky.
Fakahotu-henua, a land; Atea, a sky.
Another version of this recitation, copied by Paea from some book, probably from the island of Kaukura, is called - 7 E tumu no te henua (Enumeration of sources of the earth) and is the same except that Tumu-Po is expanded into “Ko Tumu-Po e tumu ia no te po,” etc.:
What is really a land and really a sky in the above recitation is Fakahotu-henua (Fruitfulness-of-earth) and Atea (Space), but the terms land and sky are carried back to Tumu-Po and Tumu-Ao, to balance the recitation and to mate Tumu-Po with Tumu-Ao, Tumu-Haruru with Tumu-Ngatata, etc., following the genealogical pattern in which Tuamotuans are accustomed to express origins.
The strata of Paiore's 1869 chart, fig. 2, bear the following pairs of names:
There can be no doubt that the above list of names is derived from a cosmogonic recitation such as written in Paea's book. Paea's book omits the pair of names Tapatapaiaha and Ngarue-te-fatu-moana, but they occur, and also following Tumu-Haruru and Tumu-Ngatata, in a Fangatau genealogy to be given presently. On the other hand, Paea's list ends with Fakahotu-henua (Fruitfulnessof-Earth, i.e., Earth Mother) and Atea (Space, i.e., Sky Father), which properly terminate the recitation and which must have been left out of Paiore's chart because they were crowded out by the omission of one sky-space and by the figures filling the sky-space above the tenth stratum. Had - 8 they been included on the chart by Paiore, the number of. pairs of names would have been brought to ten, corresponding to the ten strata. The pair of names occur in Paiore's account given Caillet.
The draughtsman of the Polynesian Journal, taking the names in the sky-spaces adjacent to the earth-strata to be sky-names, set them high in the sky. 16 The editors of the Polynesian, Journal, however, suspected that the names “refer to spheres or periods of development of the earth, and that these names should properly be written on the nine [ten] stages so encumbered by figures that the native draughtsman could not find room for them in thgir proper places.” 17
In the copy of the chart which I have made, see fig. 2, I have printed the names where they are placed on the original chart, adjacent to the strata to which they belong, and I have corrected J. L. Young's mistranscriptions of the names which the draughtsman of the Polynesian Journal followed.
In attempting to make the adjustment to an even number of names on each side of the chart, J. L. Young started with “Ragi No”at the right hand side, but the first name of the series written there is “Tumu-po.” Young added “Ragi No” from the end of a line of writing which appears on the margin of the sheet and which has nothing to do with the series of strata names. I have taken the liberty of making a correct start by writing Tumu-po in the space complementary to Tumu-ao, with which Tumu-po is rightly associated, and this results in one blank space when we reach the innermost circle. This blank space allows for the name Havaiki which is, in the Anaa cosmogonic recital, coupled with Peaha appearing on the opposite side of the chart, and which was crowded out because Paiore started in the first sky-space to the right instead of outside this space.
The representation of the strata names as sky-names on the chart reproduced in the Polynesian Journal, the adding of “Rangi No” which does not belong in the series, and the spelling of Tumu-ao as “Tui Ni Ao,” Tumu-ngatata as “Tia Ruga a Taha,” Te Pou-henua as “Te Piu Honua,” - 9 etc. so distorted the character of these names that it was some time before we recognised that the names in the Anaa creation chant were similar, but that the chart reversed their order. It was not until long afterwards that I saw the photographic reproduction which spells the names correctly, as in the Anaa chant, and places them adjacent to the horizontal strata and therefore in the right order as strata-names. By this time, however, my colleague J. Frank Stimson believing Paiore himself had turned the Tuamotuan conception of creation upside down, had rejected the chart in favour of one which he drew under the direction of our informant Paea of Anaa. Stimson says of the Paiore chart as reproduced in the Polynesian Journal: 18
“In this chart Paiore has reconciled the Tuamotuan and Biblical conceptions of creation by turning the former upside down, thus bringing Tumu-po (Foundation-of-the-nightsphere) into the highest realm, and reversing the fishhook of Maui so that, instead of pulling up the land from the depth of the sea, it has—apparently—pulled down the skies.”
That Stimson regarded the hooklike object at the base of the chart as the fishhook of Maui is due to the Tuamotuan creation-chart in Les Missions Catholiques presented by Father Albert Montiton in 1874, 19 a chart similar in many respects to the Paiore charts and obviously derived from one source. But it is now an easy matter to prove that the information accompanying the Caillet chart correctly explains this object, and that whoever told Montiton that this was the fishhook of Maui, was at fault, as he was concerning several other points in his explanations. In fig. 3, I have redrawn the Montiton chart, omitting his repetitions of the little figures at work in the sky. It has the three horizontal strata of the Caillet chart, a series of figures mounted one upon the other, the fire in the highest part of the sky to the right of the centre, and the hook-like object at the base curving over a rock or mountain with a cloud in the background. The plant and animal life is placed on the third stratum instead of on the first and an attempt to illustrate the theme of successive elevation by the gati Ru (host of Ru) is introduced in the space above the first and second strata. How far Montiton departed from what he had before him, we do not know. The camel, lion, and - 10 cormorant figured on the third stratum may be the work of the engraver. The chart is called “Design imagined by the natives to represent their cosmogony, after a drawing by R. P. Albert Montiton.”
Returning to the Caillet chart, a small but very important feature which reappears on the Paiore chart of 1869 but was omitted in the Polynesian Journal reproduction, is the circle of dots below the hook-like object. In the Caillet chart, this hook-like object is repeated within the circle of dots. Caillet has lettered the hook-like object in the circle of dots, b, and the same object above it, b′ similarly he has lettered the little object below the curved end of the hook-like object a and a′ respectively. See fig. 1. He has noted the legends for the figures to which he added numbers, but the legends for the letters a, b, a′, b′ A, B, C, and A′, B′, C′ are missing. What they are is made clear, however, in the text which accompanied this chart. There is also on the chart a pencil note concerning a, which says, “like stones.” The account which Paiore gave Caillet is as follows:. 20
“The universe was [first] like an egg, which contained Te-Tumu (The-Foundation) and Te-Papa (The-Stratumrock). It at last burst and produced three layers superposed, one below propping two above. Upon the lowest layer remained Te-Tumu and Te-Papa, who created man, animals, and plants.”
Thus the circle of dots stands for the universe while in the form of an egg, and Te-Tumu (The Trunk, the Foundation) is represented by the hook-like or trunk-like object bending over Te-Papa (The Stratum-rock), represented by a dot or thick horizontal mark.
The Paiore account given Caillet continues: 21
“The first man was Matata [= ma-tangata?] produced without arms, he died shortly after he had come into being. The second man was Aitu who came with one arm but without legs, and he died like his elder brother. Finally, the third man was Hoatea [=Vatea, or Atea] and he was perfectly formed. After this came a woman named Hoatu [= Hotu]. She became the wife of Hoatea [= Atea], and from them descended the human race.”- 11
In both the Caillet chart and the Paiore 1869 chart we may see the imperfectly-formed first creations in human form in the space above the first stratum, and also the completely formed couple Vatea and Hotu (= Atea and Fakahotu), Sky-space and Fruitfulness-of-earth, who personify the final stage in the evolution of the earth from TeTumu and Te-Papa, or from Tumu-Po and Tumu-Ao.
Montiton begins his account of cosmogony with Heaven and with Earth, whom he calls Fakahotu-fenua, stretched out, embracing each other. 22 Perhaps one of the best known lines of chant in the Tuamotus is this, “Ko Atea te i runga, ko Fakahotu te i raro” (Atea is above, Fakahotu is below). From their union is born the sun, moon, clouds, roots of propagation (pu take), etc., etc. 23 The parentage of Atea and Fakahotu, in a chant from Takaroa island is expressed in this manner: 24
We have also an Anaa cosmogonic chant, already reproduced in the Journal of the Polynesian Society which instead of starting with Tumu-Po and Tumu-Ao, as in the case of the first Anaa cosmogonic recitation given in this paper and reflected in the Paiore 1869 chart, begins with Tumu-nui and Tumu-iti, which is followed by Tumu-kia and Tumu-nana, and other pairs, and ends with Papa-kia and Tumu-moe-hania. 25
These names are coupled by the familiar phrasing used for Atea and Fakahotu:
After each couplet there is repeated the phrase, ko te tupuranga ia o vaitu ma tangata, (it is the creation of gods—aitu and men—tangata). Note that Caillet, in presenting the Paiore account, mentions Aitu (gods) and Ma-ta (nga)ta (And human beings) as among the first “creations” of Te Tumu and Te Papa, a reflection of the above often repeated phrase.- 12
At the top of Caillet's chart (fig. 1) a large figure in human form and three smaller ones are seen gathered about a fire. On the chart, Caillet has written Ta (nga) roa-i-te-po beside the large figure. The incident here depicted is covered in Paiore's account to Caillet: 26
“The creation of the universe was scarcely terminated when Tangaroa, who delighted in doing evil, set fire to the highest heaven, seeking thus to destroy everything. But fortunately the fire was seen spreading by Tamarua, Oru, (= Ru), and Ruanuku who quickly ascended from the earth and extinguished the flames.”
In Montiton's chart Tangaroa is converted into Maui, “furnished with a fishhook with which he fished up Tahiti.” 27 Two figures beside the fire are said to be people of Tane melting the heavens to open up a passage. But in his text Montiton says that Tangaroa, whom he regards as one of Tane's people, “melts”the heavens by a fierce fire. In Tuamotuan chants, Tangaroa is frequently referred to as Tangaroa-tutu-i-te-rangi-kia-vera (Tangaroa-who-set-fire-to-the-skies-that-they-burn). 28 There is a Tahitian reference to Tangaroa's setting fire to the sky in the Mare account of creation, when Pani, the friend of Tangaroa says to him: 29
As Montiton's informant was wrong in identifying the hook-like object at the base of the chart as the hook of Maui instead of as Te Tumu, so he was wrong in calling the figure next to the fire Maui instead of Tangaroa. I believe Montiton obtained a copy of Paiore's chart which had undergone some modifications, and that he submitted this chart to some native for explanation who was not familiar with the identity of some of the figures. It is not likely that Montiton, a Catholic missionary, would have had contact with Paiore, a Protestant convert. Montiton came to Anaa in 1852. In 1869, at the age of forty-four, he shifted his work to the eastern Tuamotus. In 1872, obliged to give up the Tuamotuan field on account of ill-health, he returned for two months - 13 at Anaa and then left for France. 30 Therefore he probably obtained his chart, which is obviously based on an Anaa chart, before 1869, the date of Paiore's elaborated chart.
In the account which Paiore gave Caillet, it is said that the most notable children of Atea and Fakahotu were Aito (= Tahito) and his wife Fenua, who preferred the horizontal position to which they were accustomed and did not agree to join with the other offspring in the attempt to raise the layer above them. 31 In Montiton's account, Tahitofenua is mentioned as one of the giants living between Heaven and Earth who lay embracing each other. 32 The Caillet account goes on to add that Aito and Fenua (i.e., Tahito-fenua) begat Tangaroa-i-te-po, “an evil genius of great power who afterwards ruled the nether lands.”
The above statement shows clearly that Paiore did not consider Tangaroa, in the Tuamotuan teaching, creator of the universe, as he was considered in Tahitian lore. It also reveals that Paiore had equated Tangaroa, because of his association with the po, or nether world, with Satan of the missionaries, for the account repeats, 33 “He (Tangaroa) became the supreme ruler of that region (the lowest layer of earth, which was in utter darkness) and remained the powerful god of death… the spirits of the wicked went down to dwell with Tangaroa, those of the good soared up to the higher regions.”
In ancient Tuamotuan teaching Tangaroa was called Tangaroa-i-te-po (Tangaroa-of-the-nether-world) as evidenced by the genealogies, and he was associated with fire through the incident of setting fire to the skies during the struggle between Tane, the sky raiser, and Atea (Space). Also, Tangaroa was called “the supreme ruler of the nether world” (te ariki nui o te po). It is small wonder that he should have come to be regarded as the equivalent of Satan of the Bible.
The Paiore account of creation reaches back further than the Montiton account, in revealing the native philosophy concerning the evolution of the earth previous to the formation of Atea and Fakahotu, —Father Sky and Mother Earth of Tuamotuan cosmogony. However, both accounts agree in this one very important particular: the world existed - 14 before gods and men, Tumu-Po (Foundation-of-the-NightWorld) and Tumu-Ao (Foundation-of-the-Light-World), or Tumu-nui (Great-foundation) and Tumu-iti (Lesser-foundation), or Te Tumu (The Foundation) and Te Papa (The Rock-stratum) represent primal stages in the development of the earth. Unlike the Tahitian accounts of creation, there is no supreme god Tangaroa creating Te Tumu and Te Papa and ordering creation on its way. Tangaroa appears in the Paiore and Montiton accounts after Atea and Fakahotu are formed.
The Caillet account from Paiore explains that when the people of Atea and Hotu (= Fakahotu) had greatly multiplied, strong men raised the layer above them with their arms, mounting upon each other's shoulders as they did so, until the highest trees could stand upright. 34
“When the lowest layer of earth became filled with creation, the people made an opening in the middle of the layer above, so that they could get upon it also, and there they established themselves, taking with them plants and animals from below. Then they raised the third layer in the same manner as the first, and ultimately established themselves there also, so that human beings had three abodes.
“Above the earth were the skies, also superposed, reaching down and supported by their respective horizons, some being attached to those of the earth; and the people continued to work expanding one sky above another in the same manner, until all were set in order.”
All this is illustrated in the Caillet chart, fig. 1. On the first layer are shown plants and animals. Through the gaps in the middle of the second and third layers the upper regions were reached by the people from below. The hosts of helpers are shown at the sides, and named on the chart Pepe, Titi, Pingao, etc. And the lifting of the heavens by Tane and Ru is indicated by the series of Tane and the series of Ru gathered under the title te ati Tane (the clan of Tane) and te ati Ru (see legend, fig. 1). These Tane-names and Ru-names turn up again and again in Tuamotuan recitations and chants.- 15
The Montiton chart (fig. 3) puts the plants and animals only on the third stratum, and uses the space above the first and second in an attempt to represent the Ru group by bending figures and upright figures. The Tane-group is evidently represented by the column of figures ending in Tane. The Ru-group, however, by Montiton's own description, should have been restricted to the lifting of the skies. In Tahitian tradition the propping on posts of Havaiki, the nether world, by Tumu-nui and Papa-raharaha precedes the lifting of the skies by Ru and Tane. 35
The Paiore chart of 1869 has the upper layers (which have been increased to ten) of the developed nether world filled with the plants and animals of the lowest realm, and represents the upper strata supported on the arms of human figures. One of the two vertical columns of figures running up into the skies has been abbreviated to a zigzag line.
I believe that the Paiore charts are attempts to represent Tuamotuan conceptions graphically in emulation of illustrations in European books with which the western Tuamotuans were quite familiar when these charts were made.
The Anaa creation chart given by Stimson in Tuamotuan Religion as first drawn for him by Paea was quite crude. Paea had by that time seen the Paiore chart reproduced in Ancient Tahiti and also the Montiton chart. Paea did not have in his own possession any such chart as he drew. The Vahitahi creation chart in Tuamotuan Religion was drawn by Stimson according to the directions of Ruea-a-Raka. 36 She told him that it was “to the best of her recollection, as her grandmother Mahanga-a-Tetau drew it for her in the sands of the seashore.” 37 On another page, Stimson says of this chart that when it was explained to Ruea by her great-grandmother Tokerau, she drew it for her in the sand. 38 However, we now know that her great-grandmother Tokerau was not alive when Ruea was born, and that Ruea made many statements contrary to fact, such as that she was a first-born (matahiapo) and therefore entrusted with lore not passed to the others. Unfortunately, therefore, Ruea's word by itself cannot be depended upon. At Vahitahi we saw no charts in native manuscript books. The Fangatau chart of creation in “The Cult of Kiho-tumu” was also drawn by Stimson under the directions of his informant Fariua. 39 Fariua had - 16 seen Paea's chart, Paiore's chart in Ancient Tahiti, and Montiton's chart.
It is my belief that if the ancient Tuamotuans set forth their ideas in graphic form that they would have passed on such drawing with the cosmogonic recitations and chants such as those written in Fariua's and Paea's manuscript books. Their absence shows that they were not considered necessary. In fact, Polynesian cosmogonies do not lend themselves readily to pictorial representation—and so far as we know the Tuamotuans did not attempt to represent events pictorially.
In one of Fariua's manuscript books of genealogies which we copied when we first knew Fariua, we came across the following cosmogonic recitation from Fangatau, which follows closely the Anaa recitation and the names on Paiore's 1869 chart:
In Fariua's genealogies the various Tumu are arranged in genealogical form, Tumu-Po being set opposite Tumu-Ao, etc., as husband and wife, and placed at the head of one of the genealogies, in this manner:
The above genealogy is entitled, “Tuatapapa no Tumu Po, e tana huaai” (genealogy of Tumu Po and his descendants). The very first of Fariua's genealogies, called in his book “Parau tupuna no Tumu Ruia” (genealogy of Tumu Ruia), begins at 62 generations before 1900 with Tumu Ruia and Tumu Ngatata and leads directly to Mahi-nui, the high chief of Fangatau, twelve generations before 1900.
The above recitation and genealogies from Fangatau contain the names Tapatapaiaha and Ngarue-te-fatu-moana, which appear on the Paiore 1869 chart but which are absent in the Anaa cosmogonic recitation I gave earlier in this paper, from Paea's manuscript book. However, another Anaa cosmogonic recitation in Paea's book, and one preceding that which I have given, contains Tapatapaiaha. The Anaa recitation to which I refer covers the period before the world began to develop. It is headed: E iho henua: Ka tupu te iho te henua, ka tupu te iho i Havaiki. E konga ana te ruki ki raro i te kore o te henua. (Generation of the earth: Life-essence of the earth developed, it grew in Havaiki. Night slept below in the void of the world):
And so on for rito (budding), kao (maturing), rau (leafing), mahora (out-spreading), hipu (?), rara (branching), taupeupe (?). Then follows:
And so on for Te Tumu-kuporu, Turikiriki, Tuaraki, Havaiki, Peaha, Fakahotu, Atea, and Te Hau-pakora.
In another manuscript which Paea copied for us, the names from Tumu-haruru to Kohua-riki were included with the names from Orovaru on, and not among the terms nana, hoe, rito, etc., and I believe this is as it should be. Also, the first part of the recitation is headed “e iho tupu no te henua" (the appearance of life in the world). The recitation is as follows:
Another version of the above which we copied from a Takaroa manuscript has been published in the June, 1938, issue of the Polynesian Journal. 42
In the private book of genealogies of our Fangatau informant Fariua, appears still another version of the chant, headed, “Fanau te uho ki te henua” (life is born in the world):
All the foregoing gives evidence enough that the names on the Paiore chart of 1869 are genuine and reveal the reason for their arrangements in pairs: the world has antecedents as human beings have antecedents; life is produced by pairing, so also the successive phases of the earth's development are produced by pairing. The personification of the phases of cosmic development makes it possible to arrange them in genealogical form. Thus arranged, the genealogies of human beings who spring from the gods, and of gods who spring from the evolving cosmos, merge one into the other.
A. C. Eugene Caillot (not to be confused with Xavier Caillet) has published two versions of a biblicized account of creation which he collected at Makemo island and at Hao island in 1912. 43 We came across the same account in manuscripts at Takaroa island, and in two of them it was stated that it was taught by Fakaranu a Kaivero to a group of six persons, whose names are given, 44 and was written down in 1853. The account has spread over the entire western Tuamotus and as far east as Hao. I heard an elderly woman, Vahine Tau, from Faite island, recite it by heart. The Hao and Makemo natives told Caillot in 1912 that the account was ancient and existed before the advent of Europeans. 45
In these biblicized accounts it is stated simply that Atea, Tane, and Tangaroa were the three gods of the Tuamotuans. Atea made heaven and earth and all that in them is. He formed Tiki, the first man, out of sand, and took a rib from his side to make Tiki's wife, Hina. Through the anger of Atea a flood overwhelmed the land. Rata (i.e., Noah) escaped in his ship (the Ark) with his wife, children, and all the animals and birds. His three children became the progenitors of the three races of mankind: the whites, the blacks, and the Polynesians. A tower (kaua) was built to reach Atea. He destroyed the tower and changed the language of the people into a number of languages, so that they could not understand each other.
Montiton must have been familiar with this account and rejected it, for no trace of it appears in what he gives in 1874. Montiton was eager to find Biblical parallels but - 20 was anxious to obtain genuine native beliefs. This is what Montiton says of his own writings concerning Tuamotuan religion and other matters. 46
“For years I have tried to do this work, but, unable to find at Anaa and in the other islands of the west sufficient facts, I was obliged to give it up. It is only in the midst of the savages of Fangatau and Takoto that I was able, through time, work, and patience, to collect some serious material and positive facts.”
Paiore's account given to Xavier Caillet, while it shows some degree of European influence in depicting the nether world as the abode of wicked souls and the heavens as the abode of the good is no such paraphrase of the Bible as the accounts published by Eugene Caillot, although recorded after these biblicized accounts were in circulation. Both reveal, however, at what an early date native teaching was breaking down in the western Tuamotus. This is not surprising when we learn that Protestant missionaries were preaching at Anaa as early as 1817. The Mormon missionaries started proselytizing at Anaa in 1845, and the Catholic missionaries established themselves at Anaa in 1851.
From Te Ururehu a Popo, a native of Napuka, who was taken by Montiton on his first voyage to the eastern Tuamotus, 47 we have a biblicized account of creation, written about 1900, which sets up Tane as the creator. The commencement follows closely the opening of Genesis.
That Tuamotuan sages of this post-European age have come to regard Atea as their creator, and others, Tane, has led to controversies as to which of the two was their creator. At present Tane seems to have the ascendency. That it did not occur to these scholars to seize upon Te Tumu or Tumunui, heading their genealogies (and so without parents) and standing at the commencement of their cosmogonic recitations, as their supreme god and creator, is further evidence that the Tuamotuans did not regard Te Tumu or Tumu-nui as an active god, as they did Tane, Tangaroa, Tu, and Rongo.- 22
Te Tumu's abode in the lowest regions of the nether world would give preference to Atea in a choice between Te Tumu and Atea, and Atea was indeed their heavenly father. Nevertheless, many of our present day Tuamotuan scholars, with little persuasion, doubtlessly could be swung over to the proposition that Te Tumu was their supreme god and creator. As he stands in the most reliable records we have, he is nothing more or less than The Source, The Foundation. He is hailed in chants glorifying a chief's lineage, but prayers and sacrifices, so far as I am aware, were not offered to him at the maraes, any more than to Atea, except when the cosmogonic personifications were invoked along with the other names of a chief's lineage.
While the Paiore account suffers from the lack of an original native text and has undoubtedly lost considerable in transmission through Caillet's faulty ear and probable imperfect understanding of the native language, nevertheless, through this account and Paiore's 1869 chart, Paiore has attempted to pass on to us the Tuamotuan teaching regarding creation in which Tangaroa is not the supreme god and creator as in Tahiti, and in which the world begins evolving itself and continues by the pairing of matter, phenomena of nature, or of abstractions such as “source-of-night,” which are personified and treated as entities. That this was a wide-spread and ancient Tuamotuan teaching is confirmed by cosmogonic genealogies and chants which have survived. There is no chance of this concept being due to missionary teaching.
When Stimson and I began collecting material from the Tuamotus for the Bernice P. Bishop Museum survey of the area, it surprised and puzzled us, in view of the close relationship between Tuamotuan and Tahitian culture, not to be finding Tangaroa as a supreme god and creator. It indicates that Tangaroa's position in Tahiti was a quite recent development—more recent even than we had supposed. Everywhere we repeatedly met with statements and vague accounts in which the supreme god was Tane or Atea. As ancient chants and genealogies revealed both in distinct rôles very different from that of a creator, the same rôles they occupied in other parts of Polynesia, we naturally assumed that the elevation of Tane and Atea to the position of supreme god - 23 and creator was due to the century and more of vigorous Christian teaching of a supreme god and creator, and our assumption was borne out by the unmistakably biblicized accounts of creation recorded in manuscripts of the natives, accounts which had been in existence for more than seventy-five years.
When we questioned our informant Paea about the original teaching concerning creation at his island of Anaa, he knew we did not believe Tane or Atea to be the ancient supreme god and creator of the Tuamotuans; he had heard something of the Maori esoteric cult of a supreme god and creator Io, through us, and knew that we would not be surprised to discover the same teaching in the Tuamotus. Also, he had had a chance to read the native texts describing Tangaroa's activities as creator in the Tahitian accounts in Henry's Ancient Tahiti. When, therefore, Paea came forth with the announcement that the ancient sages were secretly taught concerning a supreme god and creator named Kiho, or Kiho-tumu, the fact that Paea's own book, in which he had written down cosmogonic recitations and his genealogies, did not have a single entry of or mention of the name Kiho, and that he could produce no book giving the name, rendered his announcement open to doubt. In fact, the cosmogonic recitation called “E iho henua,” which we have reproduced in this article, is headed in his book simply, “This is the work of Tane (Teie to Tane ohipa). The development of the ancient world from Tumu-Po and Tumu-Ao is said to be the work of Atea (teie te hangahanga i hangaia e Atea).” Following this statement we read, “The third (of the gods) was Tangaroa; this was his work, to speak; it is said of him that he was a spirit (te ngeti o Tangaroa; teie tana hangahanga, o te reko; ua reko hia kola e vaerua).” By Tuamotuan genealogies Tane is the offspring of Atea, so this makes Atea the Father, Tane the Son, and Tangaroa the Holy Ghost—the Trinity of the Bible. This, I feared then, and believe now, is what Paea was actually taught. At least he deemed it worthy to be written down for preservation in his book.
That Paea worked into his account of Kiho things he learned through us is proved by his inclusion of the series of names Hanau-a-rangi, Apa, and Marei-Kura, which - 24 Stimson supplied Paea “to jog his memory.” 52 These are classes of beings as described for convenience by Percy Smith, in presenting The Lore of the Wharewananga which sets forth the Maori account of Io. 53
It appears to me that Paea has incorporated in his account of Kiho the entire substance of the unauthenticated Tahitian reference to a god named Ihoiho, which led Tregear to set up Ihoiho as the Tahitian supreme god and creator, and the Maori name Te Iho-o-to-rangi as the equivalent of Io. 54
This is the sole Tahitian reference to Ihoiho, as reported by the Frenchman de Bovis, in 1855: 55
“In the beginning there was nothing but the god Jhoiho; there was next an expanse of water which covered the abyss, and the god Tino-ta'ata [Human form] floating on the surface.”
This is what Paea says in a statement which he interpolated in his first draft of the account of Kiho: 56
“Kiho floated up upon the surface of the Primordial-waters, —it was his Activating-self who did so; he lay there floating upon his back.”
Paea was not able, and to this day has been unable, to supply us with proof that he had been taught concerning a supreme god and creator named Kiho, nor have we been able to find proof for him. Fariua of Fangatau island (born in 1885) who finally claimed that he had been taught concerning Kiho-tumu, was daily in contact with Paea, in Papeete, before he declared that he also had been initiated into the esoteric cult. His own manuscript book of cosmogonic chants and genealogies likewise fails to mention Kiho and we have not been able to find corroboration for what he gave. In 1934, three years after he wrote out his Kiho chants for Stimson, he was unable to recite them, although quite able to recite the chants which he had previously written in his own book. 57
The question arises, therefore, whether the Paiore account, written down a score of years before Paea was born (1889), is simply an “exoteric” Tuamotuan account of creation, or whether Paea, influenced by what he had heard from us, had converted what he had been taught into - 25 an “esoteric” teaching comparable to the Maori cult of Io, by the invention of the name Kiho as the Tuamotuan equivalent of Io, or Iho, 58 the substitution of Kiho-tumu for Te Tumu (The Foundation, The Source), and the motivation of Kiho-tumu so that his actions would be those of a supreme god and creator, after the fashion of the Creator of the Bible and Ta'aroa of the Tahitian accounts, with both of which he was familiar.
It must be admitted that if Paea wished to pose as the recipient of a secret teaching of this sort, no great difficulty confronted him, for the cosmogonic chants in this manuscript could be as easily attributed to Kiho as they were to Atea or Tane, and “esoterism” would offer ready refuge against conflicting accounts or accusations of fellow sages. Both Paea and Fariva wrote their esoteric accounts in Papeete beyond the pale of their fellow sages. We must take into consideration also the fact that both were being well paid while they wrote. The cosmogonic recitations in their own manuscript books, on the other hand, were written for themselves, without any possible thought of reward, and while in the midst of their own people. Unlike the esoteric recitations, those in their books are corroborated by chants and recitations recorded independently. We can accept them as authentic. We see from Paiore's account and chart that these cosmogonic chants do not set forth a supreme god and creator. In Paea's book is written: 59
In Paea's account of Kiho, this is replaced by:
In Tuamotuan genealogies collected Tumu-Po mates with Tumu-Ao to produce Tumu-Haruru of the next stage of the development of the earth. The process of develop- - 26 ment is an evolutionary one, whereas Paea, in his Kiho account, treats each phase as a special creation of Kiho.
In Fariva's book is written:
But in Fariva's account of Kiho, this is replaced by: 60
In these examples it is difficult to escape the suspicion that Paea and Fariva have interpolated Kiho. Suspicion is increased by the fact that at this point Fariva treats Tumu-Po and Tumu-Ao as epithets of Kiho whereas Paea treats them as separate entities created by Kiho. However, their own manuscripts written before we knew them, are in harmony with each other and with the early Paiore chart in presenting Tumu-Po, and Tumu-Ao, etc., simply as early phases of the earth's development treated as entities and not as epithets of a supreme god and creator.
Paea's esoteric creation account and chart, as well as Fariva's, therefore, should be approached with the utmost caution and studied critically in the light of all material now assembled and available at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, before credence is given them.
The purpose of this article, however, is to reveal fully the value of the Paiore account and to caution against a too hasty classification of it as merely an “exoteric” or “inferior” teaching because of Paea's and Fariva's unconfirmed esoteric accounts written down sixty years later and under the circumstances which I have outlined.- 27
Annuaire des Établissement Française de l'Océanie, Papeete, 1862.
Arbousset, Th., Tahiti et les iles adjacentes, Paris, 1867.
“Arrestation des Sauvages de Fakahina”: Bull., Soc. des Études Océanienne, vol. 5, pp. 409-415, Papeete, Dec., 1934.
Audran, Herve, “Étude linguistique du dialecte de Napuka”: Soc. Études Océaniennes, Bull., 5, pp. 36-41, Papeete, 1919.
Bovis, De, État de la Société Taitienne, Papeete, 1909.
Caillot, A. C. E., (1), Histoire de la Polynesie Orientale, Paris, 1910.
Caillot, A. C. E., (2), Mythes, legendes et traditions des Polynesiens, Paris, 1914.
Christian, F. W., Eastern Pacific Lands: Tahiti and the Marquesas, London, 1910.
Emory, K. P., The Tahitian account of creation by Mare, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 47, pp. 45-63. June, 1938.
Findlay, A. G., A directory of the South Pacific Ocean, London, 1884. (Tuamotus: pp. 592-625).
Henry, Teuira, Ancient Tahiti: B. P. Bishop Mus. Bull., 48, 1928.
Montiton, Albert R. Pére, “Les Paumotous,” Les Missions Catholiques, vol. 6, Lyons, 1874. pp. 339, 342-344, 354-356, 366-367, 378-379, 491-492, 498-499, 502-504.
Seurat, L. G., Legends des Paumotu: Revue des traditions populaires, vol. 20, Paris, 1905.
Smith, S. P., “Some Paumotu Chants,” Journal Polynesian Society, vol. 12, 1903, pp. 221-242.
Smith, S. P., The lore of the whare-wananga; Mem. Polynesian Society, 3, 1913.
Stimson, J. F., (1), Tuamotuan religion, B. P. Bishop Mus. Bull., 103, 1933.
Stimson, J. F., (2), Cult of Kiho Tumu, B. P. Bishop Mus. Bull., 111, 1933.
Terlyn, P. Vincent de Paul, SS.-CC. “Les premiers cinquante ans de la Mission des Tuamotu.” Annales des SS.-Coeurs, mai 1900, pp. 188-195.
Young, J. L., The Paumotu conception of the Heavens and of Creation: Journal Polynesian Society, vol. 28, pp. 209-211, 1919.
- 28 Page of endnotes
- 29 Page of endnotes
1 Young, pp. 209-211 (see Literature Cited).
2 Christian, opp. p. 194.
3 Young, p. 210.
4 Arrestation, p. 409.
5 Arbousset, p. 318.
6 Ibid, p. 319.
7 Ibid., p. 317.
8 Annuaire, 1892, p. 187.
9 Henry, pp. 347-349.
10 Annuaire, 1863, pp. 94-95.
11 Henry, p. 347.
12 Henry, p. 349.
13 Findlay, p. 593.
14 Paiore has written several lines below his chart, all but the first of which appear on another photograph which we do not have, but which Young (p. 210) who complains of their being in part illegible, has transcribed: “Te mau parau hohoa i faaitehia e te feia tahito. E hohoa no te ao atoa nei e te parau atoa na te hua raa, parau oia nana e faui te mau uri. Tirara parau mau pona tiamu no te api [= ati] ru ati tape, ati tohe, ati mau ni [= Maui] te fanaua uri a u na ati buaka, a hio i roto i te pipira nei is ite e papai. Na Paiore, 1869.”
The most I can make out of this transcription, obviously faulty, is this: “Pictures indicated by the ancients. A picture of the entire world and also the recitation of its developing. It is said that this brought into existence (?) beasts. This is in brief the account of the ati (clan of) Ru, the ati Tane, the ati Tope, the ati Maui, the descendants of the beasts, that is the tribe of animals…. Look into the Bible here if you want (true) understanding, and write down.”
15 Another recitation in Paea's book, beginning “kore te Tumuharuru o te henua” and reproduced farther on in this article, lists Kororupo and Te Tumu-Kuporu following Orovaru and Turi-hono.
16 Young, fig. opp. p. 211; Henry, fig. on p. 348.
17 Young, p. 209.
18 Stimson, (1), p. 91.
19 Montiton, Fig. p. 339.
20 Henry, p. 347.
22 Montiton, pp. 342, 343.
23 Stimson, (1), p. 21, and notes of B. P. Bishop Museum.
24 Emory, p. 50.
25 Smith, p. 223; Emory, p. 51.
26 Henry, pp. 348-349.
27 Montiton, p. 339.
28 Seurat, p. 486.
29 Emory, p. 57.
30 Terlyn, pp. 190-191; Caillot, (1), p. 400.
31 Henry, p. 347.
32 Montiton, p. 342.
33 Henry, p. 349.
34 Henry, p. 347.
35 Henry, pp. 342, 410, 412.
36 Stimson, (1), p. 62.
38 Ibid., p. 5.
39 Stimson, (2), p. 51.
40 In presenting these genealogies the figure on the left represents the number of generations back from 1900. The names in the left column represent the son or daughter of the pair preceding.
41 Te Tahihi, son of Tumuruia stands at only 34 generations from 1900 by another line.
42 Emory, p. 50
43 Caillot, (2), pp. 7-25.
44 The names of these people are Tohiatua a te Peva, Karara, Patuatini a Turihara, Gariki a Varoa, Pahua a Tekakahu, Tahiti Vairau Paiore a Te Raveroariki, Te Ariki-mai-hiva a te Kurarere.
45 Caillot, (2), p. 16 and p. 25.
46 Montiton, p. 342.
47 Audran, p. 41.
48 Te Ururehu says that Tane-te-vai-oro, by which he may mean Tane-te-vai-ora, (Tane-the-water-of-life), was the god “above all the other gods” and that there were three Tanes: Tane-te-vai-oro, Tane-rae-rua, Tane-vaerua (Tane-spirit). In a Tatakoto account making out Tane to be the supreme god, he is called Tane-te-vai-hau, Tane-te-vai-ere, and Tane-te-vai-ara.
49 Te Ururehu translates arorangi into Tahitian, as ao, showing that he means by arorangi (face of the heavens), the world.
50 Concerning the recitation following this statement, Te Ururehu says, “This is an ancient recitation, relating to the period of the world when it was in close confinement (O te hanga korero tahito teie i te vai piri hanga o te arorangi nei).”
51 Te Ururehu translates kataka into Tahitian as mahina, moon-light.
52 Stimson, (1), pp. 23, 25, and note 37, p. 124.
53 Smith, p. xvi.
54 For full discussion of this point see Emory, pp. 47-52.
55 de Bovis, p. 45.
56 Stimson, (1), p. 16.
57 Fariua learning of my scepticism regarding his Kiho chants wrote me that if I would come to Fangatau he could prove that what he had given was genuine. Evidently he did not expect I would be able to return to Fangatau from Honolulu, for when Mr. Clifford Gessler and I appeared with a dictaphone at Fangatau in 1934, Fariua seemed very ill at ease compared with his deportment when I was with him at Fangatau in 1929. I would have welcomed with relief any confirmation which Fariua could have given. If he had carried in his head for many years the Kiho chant which he gave Stimson, he should have been able to repeat them three years later. But if he had composed them simply for Stimson, as a comparison of them with “exoteric” versions indicates, it is not likely he would have been able to repeat them so long afterwards. Anticipating this simple test, Fariua told Mr. Gessler and myself the strange story of how, after he had written down the chants of Kiho for Stimson, they had disappeared completely from his and his wife's memories.
58 At the time we were working with Paea we thought, from reading Handy's “Polynesian Religion,” B. P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 34, p. 97, that Iho was a Maori equivalent of Io. We know now that this is an error, that Iho was not a Maori name for Io. See Emory, p. 52.
59 Stimson, (1), p. 16.
60 Stimson, (2), p. 11.