Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

The Tuamotus

The Tuamotus

The Tuamotu Archipelago, formerly referred to as Paumotu, consists of 78 atolls extending from the Society Islands to the Mangareva Islands, a stretch of about 900 miles. In depth they range between 14° and 23° S., the trend in direction being southeast. Many of the atolls are uninhabited but they are owned and visited by the people of neighboring inhabited atolls. The archipelago was annexed by France in 1844 with the exception of Ducie, Henderson, and Oeno at the extreme eastern end which, with Pitcairn, are British.

page 85

Owing to the wide extent of the archipelago, the individual atolls have been discovered by a number of explorers from Mendaña in 1595 to the Wilkes Expedition in 1840. The faulty methods of determining longitude in the earlier voyages make it difficult to identify many of the discoveries which were given European names. The list of early voyages to the Tuamotus is fairly long, but many accounts are scanty because the great depth of the ocean outside the reefs made it impossible for ships to anchor off the atolls. Even when boats were able to land, the stay was usually short. In many instances, the atolls were merely sighted and recorded or scanty observations on the people were made through the telescope.

Of other writers, the earliest observers were the Roman Catholic missionaries, of whom Montiton was the most productive. Articles by Audran and Seurat contain good material, and Tregear compiled a Paumotuan dictionary which appeared in issues of the journal of the Polynesian Society.

The Bishop Museum staff expedition to the Tuamotus, with K. P. Emory and J. F. Stimson, in 1929-31 was able to collect much information, as a motor launch was provided to visit the various islands. The expedition was joined by H. L. Shapiro, who made records of the physical characters. Bishop Museum has published a good many of the expedition's reports, but some manuscripts await completion. Records of the music were made and have been studied by E. G. Burrows. Some of the material bearing on religion may be regarded as open to doubt, because a difference of opinion prevails regarding the veracity of some informants and the interpretation of their information. The Mangarevan Expedition of 1934 added further information.

Literature on Tuamotus

Early Voyagers
  • Beechey (1825-1828)
  • Behrens (1721-1722)
  • Belcher (1836-1842)
  • Boenechea (1772-1776)
  • Bougainville (1766-1769)
  • Byron (1764-1766)
  • Cook (1768-1771)
  • Cook (1772-1775)
  • Dumont D'urville (1837-1840)
  • Edwards (1790-1791)
  • Kotzebue (1812-1815)
  • Kotzebue (1823-1826)
  • Le Maire and Schouten (1615-1617)
  • Lesson (1822-1825)
  • Moerenhout (1828-1834)
  • Quiros (1605-1606)
  • Roggeveen (1721-1722)
  • Turnbull (1800-1804)
  • Wallis (1766-1768)
  • Wilkes (1838-1842)
  • Wilson (1796-1798)
Other Writers

Audran, HervéTraditions and notes on the Paumotu (or Tuamotu) Islands: Polynesian Soc., Jour., vol. 27, pp. 26-35, 90-92, 132-136; vol. 28, pp. 31-38, 1918, 1919.

page 86

Corney, Bolton G., The quest and occupation of Tahiti by emissaries of Spain during the years 1772-1776, vols. 1-3: Hakluyt Soc., ser. 2, vols. 32, 36, 43, London, 1913, 1914, 1918.

Emory, K. P., Tuamotuan concepts of creation: Polynesian Soc., Jour., vol. 49, pp. 69-136, 1940.

Emory, K. P., A newly discovered illustration of Tuamotu creation: Polynesian Soc., Jour., vol. 49, pp. 569-578, 1940.

Gessler, Clifford, Road my body goes, New York, 1937. (Also published as Dangerous Islands, London, 1937.)

Montiton, A. R., Les Paumotus: Missions Catholiques, vol. 6, pp. 339, 341-344, 354-356, 366-367, 378-379, 490-491, 498-499, 502-504, Lyon, 1874.

Tregear, Edward, A Paumotuan Dictionary: Polynesian Soc, Jour., vol. 2, pp. 195-202; vol. 3, pp. 1-8, 51-58, 113-120, 179-186; vol. 4, pp. 1-16, 73-88, 157-160, 1893-1895.

Bishop Museum Publications

Burrows, E. G., Native music of the Tuamotus, Bull. 109, 1933.

Emory, K. P., Tuamotuan stone structures, Bull. 118, 1934.

Emory, K. P., The marae in Tuamotuan culture, manuscript.

Emory, K. P., Tuamotuan material culture, in preparation.

Emory, K. P., Archaeology of Mangareva and neighboring atolls, Bull. 163, 1939.

Stimson, J. F., Tuamotuan religion, Bull. 103, 1933.

Stimson, J. F., The cult of Kiho-tumu, Bull. 111, 1933.

Stimson, J. F., Legends of Maui and Tahaki (trans.), Bull. 127, 1934.

Stimson, J. F., Tuamotuan legends, the demigods (trans.), Bull. 148, 1937.

Stimson, J. F., Tuamotuan legends, the heroes (trans.), manuscript.