Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/442

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428 Short Bibliographical A'otices.

Su?i-CnU and Megaliths in Oceania. By W. H. R. Rives. Reprinted from The American Anthropologist, N.S. Vl. xvii., No. 3. July-September. 19 15.

"There is," says Dr. Rivers, "at present no decisive evident that the Sun was the object of a pubHc rch'gious cult in any partf Polynesia." There is, however, reason to believe that behind t? practices of the Areoi, best known to ethnologists as charterd libertines practising infanticide, there is a cult of the Sun. Fr example, it is remarkable that this society becomes inactive an goes into retreat at the season of the year when the Sun is nort of the Equator, and the members come out of their retirement 1 celebrate the festival of Mahui, the god who brings fertility an abundance, who is, according to one observer, a personification < the Sun. There is other evidence from Polynesian cults whic supports this theory. But such annual movements of the Su which take place in an equatorial region would not be so noticeabl as to suggest the birth and death of a human being or of an anthrc pomorphic god. The inference is that if the central idea of thes Polynesian secret societies be the representation of the Sun" movements by the simile of the birth, life, and death of a god, wt are driven to the view that the idea and the resulting cult must have been introduced into Oceania by a people who came from some latitude where the simile would have a meaning. This is the view of Dr. Rivers, a new convert to the theory of the trans- mission of belief and custom. For the present there is no evidence where this centre of origin was situated. He makes the interesting suggestion that the foreign race which, on this supposi- tion, introduced the Sun cult were also the builders of the stone buildings and carvers of the images which still constitute such a mystery. There remains, of course, the possibility that these structures and images may originally have served some other purpose, the cult of the dead for instance, and may at a later period have been associated by the societies with their Sun cult. But wider study of the cults and traditions of Oceania is needed before the problem raised in this interesting paper can be finally solved.