Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Anthropology and Religion

Mangaian Gods

Mangaian Gods

The national god of Mangaia, worshiped by all the tribes, was Rongo, a son of the Sky-father and the Earth-mother. The ritual to Rongo was conducted on two temples, one inland of the great upraised coral reef that surrounded the island and the other on the shore side of the upraised reef. The shore temple, named Orongo, contained a large stone image of Rongo and a smaller stone image standing behind it. Human sacrifices were offered to Rongo at the ceremony of installing the commander of a victorious tribe as Military Dictator of the island. After the ceremony, peace was declared over the land by sounding drums on the temple.

Each tribe had its own tribal god with a temple in its tribal district. One of these gods was Tane, a brother of Rongo. A symbol carved in wood represented each god, and these, to the number of thirteen, were kept in a special god house that stood between two important inland temples. They were tended by a hereditary keeper who kept them wrapped in special coverings of thick white bark cloth and fed them with offerings of taro every evening.

page 70

In addition to the important temples, there were shrines on the coast consisting of stones erected to the two gods of fishermen. One, near the shore residence of the Shore-high-priest, was to Rua-tama'ine. Attached to a stake beside it was an open basket in which the fortunate fisherman deposited a portion of his catch as a present to the Shore-high-priest and as an offering to Rua-tama'ine. The stone representing the other god, Rua'atu, received an offering of a small fish from the successful fisherman and a coral pebble from the unsuccessful.