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Mangaian Society

Funeral Eva

Funeral Eva

The funeral eva was termed eva tapara from the blackening (tapara) of the faces of the performers with charcoal. The hair was shaved, the skin cut to draw blood, and evil-smelling cloth (pakoko) dipped in mud was worn. This reproduced the procedure of the relatives immediately after the death of the deceased and during the actual funeral.

An eva given by Gill (6, pp. 281, 283) was composed by the chief Koroneu for his son Atiroa, who died of disease. Koroneu was so incensed at his god Tane for not saving his child that he openly reviles the god in the dirge. He was a bold man to do so, but he demonstrated very effectively the depth of his grief. Pangeivi, who is addressed, was the priest of Tane at that period.

page 194
E Pange ō i! e rau raua ia tama, Oh, Pangeivi who treated my son,
Kau tomo te vaka. The canoe has sunk.
A aore e tu, e ta'u atua. Ah, you are no help, O my god (Tane).
I na'au ai kua 'oki ō, Through you he should have returned,
E vao rakau ra'ui na'au, [For we are] a forest protected by you,
Aore teta'i e tukua i te urunga piro. Not one was to be allowed to die on the evil-smelling pillow.
Ina tika 'oki Turanga, Such action may have been right for the god Turanga,
E vaimangaro ra taana! For a spring of lies is his.
Parau aore e kai 'oki ta'au. You are not weary, for you have eaten.
Tapara atu ra i te koi parara, May you be plastered with filth
Kororo-kururu 'ua atu ra. And even defaecated upon.
E atua te tangata e oia! Man is [as good as] a god.

Koroneu grieves that his son died of a disease on the evil-smelling pillow (urunga piro) instead of having to die in battle like so many of the Ngati-Tane. Koroneu carries the insult further by breaking wind ('u) at Tane and ends up by cursing the priest of Tane.

'Ua, e Tiki, i te ū turangi. Efflate, O Tiki, with the efflatus of another world.
Aria. Wait.
'Ua, 'ua'ia. Efflate, efflate at him.
Ko! [Chorus of pretended explosions!]
To taringa, e Pangeivi, Your ear, O Pangeivi,
I kai koe i ta'u tamaiti na. You have eaten my child.

The phrase "To taringa" (Your ear) is a Polynesian curse. In Maori, a similar curse is fully expressed in the form, "To taringa, ei kai mau" (Your ear, may you eat it). In both Mangaian and Maori it is enough to say "Your ear," for the rest is understood by all.