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Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

Chapter IV — Traces of European-Like Peoples in — the Pacific

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Chapter IV
Traces of European-Like Peoples in
the Pacific

The Ainos

(1) At the sea terminus of the Northern megalithic route there is a strikingly Caucasian people, the Ainos. Their features are exceptionally like the normal European, their faces oval, their eyes brown or greenish, deep set under fine brows, their nose large and straight with fine nostrils, their black, brown, or fair hair wavy and abundant on both head and face. The portraits of the men in their long, loose mantles, with their flowing hair and beard, and their fine intellectual faces, might be taken for those of ancient Druids. And yet from the low average stature and the varying head-form it is manifest that they have crossed with other races, probably Mongoloid. The Caucasian face-form has been preserved by the ideal of the race acting on sexual selection, whilst the head has been changed by the intermixture from the primeval long shape into frequent round and intermediate. De Quatrefages says of them that they are a race "fundamentally fair and long-headed, more or less changed by other ethnical elements." Batchelor, in "The Ainu and their Folklore," says, "Their skin, like that of Europeans, is whiter by nature than that of their Japanese neighbours,"

(2) This originally fair Caucasian race, according to their own traditions, once covered the whole Japanese Archipelago; wherever the gods of the sea looked, "there echoed the sound page 27of the Ainu speech." And the annals of the Japanese tell what a long and fierce struggle they had to subdue the hairy aborigines even with superior weapons. War has gradually reduced them to some twenty thousand. And it is clear that the conquerors absorbed them rather than annihilated them in the southern islands; for they, in contrast to their Chinese cousins, "strip white." The Ainos in their turn had conquered and probably absorbed a race, whom they call the "People of the Hollows," that held the islands before them.

An Earlier Caucasian People before the Ainos

(3) But these people of the half-underground dwellings were evidently not the first inhabitants of the archipelago. For neither they nor the Ainos that absorbed them had megalithic burial habits; the latter bury in the ground and plant an oar on the grave. And there are all over Japan great burial mounds that, like those of Siberia and Europe, cover colossal stone chambers or galleries. Now the Japanese in their annals speak of subduing the "Stone Men." And these are doubtless the megalithic race that, when the "People of the Hollows," and after them the Ainos, crossed from the continent, went off in their canoes southwards over the stepping-stones of island-groups, and carried their colossal art into Polynesia; and that must have been four or five thousand years ago.

Great Mixture of Peoples in the Islands to
the South

(4) Caucasian they must have been, and those of them that remained behind must have contributed to the European appearance of the Ainos. In the Loochoo Islands, Formosa, and the Philippines, which form the coastal stepping-stones, there are traces of light-complexioned peoples found even in page 28the intricate confusion of races that inhabit the last two. A fair-skinned tribe of dwellers in trees has been only recently reported in the inland forest of the Philippines.

(5) But this ring of islands is too close to Asia to keep any race unmixed. It is somewhat the same with the Ladrone and Caroline groups, even though they are at a much greater distance from the Asiatic coast. The inhabitants of the former found by the Spaniards are nearly extinct. But fair complexions are spoken of amongst them, and the women are preferred by the traders as wives to the Caroline Islanders because of their fair skin and comparatively European features. And yet the Spaniards used to introduce the Caroline Islanders as slaves, so that some islands of the southern group were left almost depopulated, and had to be recolonised from the Ladrones, and room was left for armed immigrations from north, south, and west. The race problem, therefore, is now extremely complicated. But the great stone avenues in so many of the northern group, the colossal stone ruins of a city on Tinian described by Anson as extending over three miles of plain, and the inscriptions in caves reported by the Jesuit Fathers reveal the existence in ancient times of an advanced megalithic people.

(6) The racial problem in the Carolines is even more confused, though the dialects have still much of the Polynesian in their vocabularies, and many Polynesian customs prevail in this, the main group of what is called Micronesia. There are said to be not only Malayan and Indonesian strata, but Papuasian. And tradition tells of a conquering migration from the south under a black leader called Idzikolkol, who overthrew the dynasty of the colossal stone Venice in Ponape and set up a new one in its place.

(7) Kubary found four skulls in a mortuary vault of the water-city, and these displayed the extreme of long-headedness, whilst the existing natives are nearly midway between long-page 29headed and round-headed. Of course, in these tropical lands, with their rank vegetation and active bacterial life no very ancient relics of man are likely to be found except stone and metal, the bones as well as the flesh so rapidly decay. Hence, if we cannot find traces of primitive peoples in the existing features and heads, we are not likely to find them in the graves. And where, as in the Carolines, wave after wave of immigration has flooded island after island, the problem of the primeval inhabitants becomes difficult of solution.

The Spaniards found the Islanders of the Ladrones
and Carolines mixed, but seem to indicate a Fair
Race in the Blancos

(8) Even the Spaniards found on them very varied types of men. On the low coral islands were savages, whom they called Barbados and Pintados. On the high volcanic islands there were people marked by their tall stature, great strength, and fine intelligence, whom they call variously Hombres, Blancos, and Chamorros. The upper classes had huge canoes for far-voyaging, and sheltered in houses that, like their dwellings, stood on tall stone pillars. They honoured sea-craft and ship-building above all other arts, and forbade the subject peoples learning anything of navigation. Their stage of culture was not unlike that of the Maoris when first seen by Europeans. But they had skill in pottery, an art that never belonged to the Polynesians; they learnt it probably from their subject peoples; for, dark and short, these were doubtless Melanesians, a race that were, as a rule, acquainted, with the art. Their government was patriarchal like the Polynesian, but they had no kings. And they had a more intense stone-culture than that people, reverencing as they did the foundation-stones and the stone pillars of their houses, and burying their dead in huge stone vaults with great ceremony, and page 30with long watching over them by the light of fires and lamps kept constantly burning. The dark subject race let their dead decay, then scraped the bones, and kept them in baskets in their houses. The name Blancos or Whites applied to the nobles seems to indicate that a fair race from the north, probably the megalithic race, had amalgamated with a dark Caucasian race from the west, probably from Indonesia.

The Route of the Megalithic People was along the
East of the Carolines

(9) The chief thing to guide us in this group is the megalithic habit of the early inhabitants. There are huge mounds in Ponape at least that are, though unexcavated, clearly ancient burial-places; they are called by the natives giants' graves. There are, also, old tombs in enclosures inland called the graves of the little people. There are, in addition to these, colossal stone tables and pillared galleries and megalithic ruins all over the island. And the natives have, like those of all the larger forested islands of Micronesia and Polynesia, a great fear of penetrating into the forests or mountains, lest they should encounter the fairies, a clear sign that the remnant of a conquered people took refuge in these more inaccessible haunts and preyed on any of their conquerors that ventured far from their coast centres.

(10) It is the colossal buildings that have been most investigated. And one feature of these is that they are all on the eastern and south-eastern islands of the group, the parts that lie nearest to Polynesia, an indication of the route of the megalithic people from the north-west into the Central Pacific. Had they been on the western islands as well, then the route might have been from Indonesia, though a gap of two or three thousand miles would have intervened between the terminus of the southern track and the Carolines. page 31In the colossal stone tombs of the south-east of Ponape, Mr. F. W. Christian found the human remains disintegrated, but unearthed shell ornaments and implements, one piece of obsidian and one piece of iron. This last shows Malay or Indonesian intercourse; but it does not go far back, else we should have had frequent finds of metal implements and weapons in the tombs. The Polynesian culture is the fundamental in the east and south-east of the group. In the west the Indonesian element has more dominance.

(11) The natives of the Gilbert and Marshall groups are still more Polynesian in their appearance and habits. These archipelagoes have evidently not only been stepping-stones for the megalithic people, on their passage from the north-west into Polynesia, but, in spite of their prevailing coralline structure, and the meagre sustenance they afford, they have had frequent Polynesian refluxes, and are, as a rule, thickly populated.

Clear Evidence of a Fair Race having been Absorbed
by the Polynesians

(12) But it is in Polynesia proper that most evidences of a primeval fair race have been gathered. Taken as a whole the islanders of this region have a singularly European appearance. What struck all the early voyagers was the fine faces and regular features of most of the islanders, and some of them broke into raptures over the beauty of the women and the stalwart grace of the men. They constitute one of the tallest races in the world. Their hair is generally abundant, and generally wavy, never kinky, like the hair of the negroids, and never rank and coarse, like that of the mongoloids and they can unlike these two divisions of page 32mankind, have, if they wish, plenty of hair on the face. The colour of it is generally dark, and amongst many of them a certain proportion of the children have brown hair, which changes into black only at full maturity. The complexion is, as a rule, brown, but it is very often olive, and no darker than that of the Southern Italians; and colour is as much a matter of climate and food as of race. Dr. Hamy, the French anthropologist, finds from new measurements that "in the east, north, and south they present a long-headedness very pronounced." Other observers incline to place them amongst the medium-headed men, neither very round nor very long. But the skulls that the Americans took out of the burial platforms of Easter Island are in appearance decidedly long.

(13) There are even cases of a cross with a blonde Caucasian race amongst the Maoris, and especially amongst the Ureweras, who have seen little of Europeans till lately; the urukehu, or red-headed, families and individuals are not infrequent, and the red-head is generally accepted as an indication of a cross between a blonde and brunette race, whilst it is acknowledged that this tribe, not long after arriving in the Matatua canoe, passed inland to the highlands round Lake Waikaremoana, and, struggling with the inhabitants of the mountain and forest land, ultimately amalgamated with them. In that other long-isolated district, the King Country, near the harbour of Kawhia, there are many of these rufous people, and, at the same time, the tribes there speak of their ancestors, the immigrants of the Tainui canoe, amalgamating with the aboriginals, the Ngatimokotorea. And they say that in the fore part of the Tainui a fairy woman called Te Peri had command. The aboriginals of the Ureweras are called by them the Toi; and Mr. Elsdon Best quotes a Maori description of this primitive people as peaceful and good, a contrast to the restless warriors that had come in amongst them from Polynesia.

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The Fairy Peoples of Maori Legend are all European-
like, and in all Countries Fairies are the Defeated

(14) A significant substitution by the Ureweras, when the urukehu are mentioned, is the word Turehu, which is used by the Maoris as almost interchangeable with Patupaiarehe in the sense of a fairy or beneficent supernatural being. The Turehu are also represented as an aboriginal people absorbed by the Polynesian immigrants forty generations, or about a thousand years, ago. They had come, according to White's "Ancient History of the Maori," "from the other side of the ocean," and conquered the Tutu-mai-ao, who had before them conquered the Kui, the people that got the land from Maui, when he fished it out of the sea.

(15) Now, all the fairies are described as fair-headed and fair-skinned, like Europeans. They are, in fact, nothing more than some of the people who occupied New Zealand, when the Polynesians arrived in their canoes, with a halo of romance thrown round them by the mystery of their forest and mountain life after being driven back from the coasts. In the beautiful legend of Kahukura, this Maori sees them fishing in the moonlight, and, mingling with them, learns the secret of their net-meshing, which is the same as that of the Swiss lake-dwellers; but when daylight comes they recognise in him an alien, and flee, leaving their nets and boats. He has to be represented as a very fair-skinned Maori, in order to escape detection. If they had differed from him in stature or in supernatural appearance, they would not have needed the dawn to reveal the difference. Their ways were evidently those of men driven to follow their old sea pursuits only at night, and fleeing to the mountains and the forests at daybreak to escape the fierce intruders who had landed on their shores.

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(16) And there is something very human in many of the other traits attributed to these Patupaiarehe by Maori legend. They run away with the wife of a Maori, and he rescues her from them by painting her with red ochre (kokowai), giving cooked food, and using incantations (karakias). Their fear of cooked food, doubtless, means that they steamed their own food, and abhorred the South Asiatic method of boiling or roasting at an open fire, introduced by the Polynesians. Their abhorrence of kokowai shows that they hated the sanguinary look that it gave the Maori warrior, and preferred their own fair skins unpainted. And the absence of karakias indicates that their religion was free from the magic and sorcery and symbolic rites of South Asiatic peoples. This all points to a North Pacific, and primarily North European, origin for these fair-haired, fair-skinned aborigines.

They Taught the Polynesian Immigrants Gentler
Ways of Life

(17) Though they are always spoken of as the good people, they are said to have had the power of smothering men, which means that their raids on the settlements of the immigrants were at night when people slept. And it is this method of retaliation, along with their mysterious appearances and disappearances in the forest and their art of ambushing, that threw such a supernatural halo round them, and made the Maoris fear the bush and the mountains inland. It was something out of the common for these feeble folk to make such fierce warriors timid, especially as the legends represent them as merry and cheerful, and always singing like the cricket. The mystery around them probably saved them from annihilation; and their absorption by the immigrants probably explains the improvement manifest in later Maori legend. The earlier stories of the migration from Polynesia page 35are full of cunning and cruelty and coarseness. Many of the later are touched with the spirit of gentleness, humanity, and romantic chivalry. The change of country and scenery and climate could never account for this new moral and emotional development. Nothing could but amalgamation with a gentler and more peaceful race.

They Taught the Polynesian Immigrants Various

(18) And the legends seem to show that this has something to do with the marvellous new development of the primitive arts in New Zealand. Te Kanawa, a Maori chief, came across the fairies on the top of a mountain; and in his fear he put out all his greenstone and sharkstooth ornaments as a peace-offering to them; but they only took the form of them, and vanished, leaving the originals untouched. The story shows how they were as fond of ornaments and as capable of making them as the Maoris, and that they did not work greenstone.

(19) Another set of forest fairies, the Hakuturi, had especial skill in woodcraft, and the making of canoes out of tree-trunks. In the legend of Rata they level a tree and dig out a canoe for him as by magic. It seems to mean that it was the forest-haunting aborigines that taught the immigrants from Polynesia how to make the great single dug-out canoe instead of the double canoe and the outrigger canoe to which they had been accustomed. And these Hakuturi are described as white also.

(20) Rata got the canoe in order to go against another set of aboriginals, a sea-haunting set, the Ponaturi, who had slain his father and were using his bones in incantations. An earlier version of his story is placed in the heroic or semi-divine stage of Maori mythology. Tawhaki, the Prometheus of the race, has to recover his father's bones from the Ponaturi, who live page 36by night in a house beneath the sea; whilst a later version rids it of all the supernatural, and makes a chief, Ruapupuke, whose boy was drowned, go down to the house of these sea-haunting people, burn their great carved house, recover his son's body from its use as an image on the ridge-pole, and bring up the carved work in order to teach the Maoris the art. This seems to show that some of the pre-Polynesians resisted the immigrants, keeping to their sea haunts and maritime pursuits, and ultimately taught them their new spiral wood-carving. And these are often alluded to as Patupaiarehe, and therefore light skinned.

(21) Other ancient names that the Maoris have for a white man are Waraki and Maitai. But the commonest is pakeha. For their tradition told them of gods who lived on the sea, who were fair in complexion, and were called Pakehapakeha.

(22) It is natural to think that New Zealand, because of its size and its position as a cul-de-sac for Pacific sea-migrants from the north, should have most evidences of the primitive and pre-Polynesian races. Its forests and mountains would give them shelter for ages. In the smaller islands of the South Seas they would be more easily exterminated. But even there there are evidences in the people and their traditions of a white race having stood out against the South Asiatic conquerors, and of having been absorbed, too. All over the islands the early navigators were struck with the European features and the light complexion of many of the natives.

Traces of a Fair-haired Race in the Other Groups

(23) And, according to Dr. Wyatt Gill, a golden-haired child in Mangaia is called "the fair-haired progeny of Tangaroa," the great god of the sea, who himself was sandy-haired, and, having been driven out from the island, lived page 37in distant lands with his fair-haired children. The Mangaians dislike light hair, and think it suitable only to foreigners. All through the islands dark hair and complexion are looked on as the sign of strength. Clearly a fair-haired race was driven out of many, if not all, of the islands, and took to the sea again; whilst the conquering immigrants were all of brown skin and dark hair. The massacre of Captain Cook reveals the same tradition in the Sandwich Islands. Because of his white skin and his great ship, he seemed to fulfil their old prediction that the god Rono would return again from Tahiti, and he was accorded divine honours, and was sacrificed that he might ever remain a god.

Polynesia with its Father-right Divides the Mother-
right of Melanesia and Papuasia from the Mother-
right of America, and affiliates with the North

(24) But the illustration of the theme would lead us too far. It only remains to point out one indication from sociology that would go far to prove the advance of a Caucasian migration into the world of Polynesia from the north. It is the strange phenomenon, noticed by Ratzel in his "History of Mankind," that between the mother-right of social organisation all through Australia, Melanesia, and Papuasia, and to some extent Indonesia on the west, and all through America on the east, there is thrust the wedge of Micronesia and Polynesia with a totally different social system, that of father-right. The one makes the children follow the mother, and possess property through the mother, an essentially primitive stage of the family, developing perhaps out of promiscuity after the idea of property and rights had evolved. The couvade, or lying-in of the father instead of the mother on the birth of a child, is an effort towards the evolution of the father-right from the page 38mother-right. For the patriarchate or headship of the father in the family, so familiar to the European mind as to seem almost the only natural or existing social system, is a late development amongst all races but the Caucasian and the nomad tribes of the Mongols. It means the law of chastity in married life, so that the true heir may be known, and hence the hedging round of the family as the true social unit, and of the hearth as the sacred centre of life; and, when amalgamation into tribes occurs, the chiefship passes from father to oldest son. It implies the rgime of primogeniture.

(25) Now Polynesia as the realm of the patriarchate, or father-headship, divides the matriarchate of America from that of Melanesia and Papuasia. And through Micronesia it affiliates to the patriarchate of the Aino social system. Between it and India, another realm of the patriarchate, there intervenes an unbroken realm of matriarchate. In bringing our Polynesians wholly from South Asia and its social organisation, we have to make a leap. In bringing them from the Japanese Archipelago, we have no break in the continuity of the father-right.