Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/264

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A Solution of the Gorgon Myth.

Maori traditions are well known to several writers. Captain Barclay[1] testifies to the persistence of their belief that their ancestors migrated from another land, "the mysterious Hawaiki"— that they have traditions of great earthquakes and other natural disturbances in that land whence their fathers came over the sea. They have many legends relating to ancient mythological incidents belonging to that land, such as of heroes transformed to demi-gods. The traditional route and origin of the migration are lost or forgotten; possibly these details are purposely withheld, yet in other respects they ai-e strangely complete, "even to the names of the canoes and the (names of the) crews."

As to the route, Easter Island (Rapanui), at least 4,000 miles from New Zealand, suits all descriptions of the lost Hawaiki. It is volcanic and not coraline. It affords abundant evidence of a prehistoric civilisation; especially is this to be found among the debris of red volcanic rock, of identically the same kind as that of which a prehistoric image now in the Auckland Museum is made, which image is said by tradition to have come from Hawaiki. Easter Island must have been of much greater extent than at present, and we know not how much of it has subsided like other volcanic islands; but even on that which is left are remains of Cyclopean walls, and a number of heads of statues cut from single blocks are now lying about the beach. All these seem to represent the same person, or are at least the same type. That these are now on the beach is a striking proof of submergence. What may there not be beneath the waves? On these relics General Forlong[2] remarks: "For the most part, Malays liked a roving piratical life with safe ports on all coasts .... and who but these clever Dravidian builders of Ma-Māla-pura could have reared the beautiful and massive cut stone structures of Easter Isle off the coast

  1. "A Mystery of the South Seas," Pall Mall Magazine, October, 1902, p. 211.
  2. Short Studies in the Science of Comparative Religions, 1897. p. 123.