Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/267

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241
A Solution of the Gorgon Myth.

tongue and all—compare it en passant with Figs. 20 and 21. The quasi-human figure is being attacked by another creature havine a human arm with five fingers, but whose body and head may be anything. To me the head seems much "degraded," but it suggests a lobster's cla.w more than a bird, while the body has little of the bird in it, though even if we have here the "evil bird" of Brazil, we are merely shunted off into another version, another development of the old story. On Fig. 27 the same scene is repeated from the same Plate E, and over all, and pervading each, we see the scroll as the main, indeed the only

Fig. 27.

ornamentation. Which of the figures in these remarkable carvings is the true Manaia does not appear. I suggest that the scroll contains the true interpretation. In the great fight, legs and tentacles become so mixed as to seem each to belong to the other, so their memory has become traditional, and just as the tentacle scroll has become a longlived conventional pattern in Greek art, so it has taken hold of the fancy of the Maori ancestors and developed into the prevailing decorative pattern in far-off New Zealand.

Lastly, I ask attention to the carved Maori staves in Pitt Rivers' collection.[1] Here the same scrolls are combined with eyes, as prominent as those in the old Greek carving at Selinunte (Fig. 18). Moreover these staves are tongue-

  1. See for illustration Balfour, Evolution in Decorative Art, p. 57.