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Maori Religion and Mythology Part 2

The Hanging Sky

The Hanging Sky

The heavens above are sometimes called the Rangi nui a Tama or Great Sky of Tama, the Tama being an abbreviated form of Tamaiwaho. The Maori retained a far spread fancy in the "hanging sky" envelope of the earth, and through this hanging down part of the sky it is necessary to pass if you wish to go beyond the horizon. South Island natives, Beattie tells us, believed that the sky came low down at the horizon, but there was room to pass through between sky and earth, as proved by an ancient navigator who made a voyage across the horizon in order to clear up the mystery. In his account of Tonga-tapu published in 1810, Vieson remarked in explaining the views of the natives as to the origin of Europeans: "They called us 'the men of the sky', observing that the sky appeared to touch the ocean at the distant horizon, and, knowing that we came an immense distance, they concluded that we must have come through the sky to arrive at Tongatapu." This curious belief is, after all, one likely to be held by any savage or barbaric people. Hewitt mentions it in his account of the peoples of India and their myths, and tells us that the Dyaks of Borneo affirm that, if you travel far enough you can touch the sky with your hands.