Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/123

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119
A HISTORY OF TAHITI

departed ancestors, for to the simple mind all things of nature are of his own kindred, the world was made by a man-like god for man and all things centered round him. Thus the sun was a ghost that plunged beneath the sea at night, the moon was the sun's wife and the stars their children, and every waterfall, mountain peak and valley had its guardian or haunting nymph or good or evil spirit. The ceremonies associated with the worship of the ancestral spirits were usually conducted upon the roof-shaped heaps of stones called the marae which each Arii caused to be erected in his district, each of his retainers contributing two stones to the structure. Cook states that the marae of the high chiefs Amo[1] and Purea in the district of Papara was a prism with an oblong base 267 feet long, 187 feet wide and 44 feet high, having eleven steps or terraces broader at the sides than at the ends. The top was a ridge resembling the roof of a house and at its middle point stood the image of a bird carved in wood while near it lay the broken model of a fish cut in stone. The sight of this stupendous structure, and the statement that each person in the district had contributed two and only two stones may have caused Cook to form his exaggerated estimate of the population of Tahiti. Shapeless and sadly reduced by burning in a lime kiln, the marae of Papara now lies forgotten in the forest by the

 
PSM V86 D123 Fire making with sticks in tahiti.jpg
Making Fire in Tahiti, by rubbing two dried sticks of the yellow hibiscus one against the other.
 
  1. Amo, the "Eamo" of Cook's narrative, was the son of Tuiterai (God of the sky).