Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Mangaian Society

Warriors' Spirit Realm

Warriors' Spirit Realm

Besides acquiring privileges in this world, warriors slain in battle continued them in the spirit world. They were exempted from the oven of Miru for, instead of descending to the lower realm, they ascended into an upper world of light ('aere ki te ao). The realm occupied by the spirits after they leaped off the mountain into space (neneva) was known as Tiairi. Tiairi is evidently a local name and was said to have been named after the spot where the first human being, Matoetoea, was slain by Tu-kai-taua. Tiairi evidently had no special boundaries and extended vaguely over the ten or more super-imposed realms. That Tiairi is not borrowed from Christian sources is shown page 206by allusions in native laments composed before the advent of missionaries. In a lament for the sons of Rori, slain in battle, is the following (6, p. 178):

Na tokotoru a Rori The three [sons] of Rori
Ei tupeke pare kura e! Leaping in red feather headdresses!
Tera roa te 'anau te 'aka mai i te nga'ere. There indeed the family is dancing as in war,
I te kapa toa i Tia'iri. In the ranks of the warriors at Tiairi.

The warrior spirits were decked with garlands of flowers and sweet-scented leaves. They were vigorous because they had been slain in active service while enjoying their full vigor and strength, in contrast to the spirits of those who had died of sickness or old age. In Tiairi, they told tales of old battles, sang, and danced ('aka) the war dances of old. They despised the spirits in the underworld upon whom their excreta fell.

It was natural to associate the spirits with the clouds that move through space. In the winter season the skies were dark, and clouds obscured the sun because of the presence of spirits which could not ascend to Tiairi in that season. This presence, as well as the season, caused depression to mortals. As the rainy season ceased early in August, the lighter clouds rose higher; and as they moved through the skies they represented the spirits departing to the upper realm. They were last seen as specks (poepoe) in the distance, which led to the use of Poepoe as an alternative name for Tiairi. The following is a reference to Poepoe in a lament (6, p. 177):

Puputa motu taua e! Our companionship is severed, alas !
Ka 'aere au tei Poepoe! I go to Poepoe.
E 'enua 'akarere Mangaia e taea mai e! Mangaia is a land forsaken which can not be regained.

The warriors' resting place was also alluded to in general terms as puokia.

The social elevation of the warrior in Mangaia has greatly affected the mechanism of the spirit realms. In Rarotonga the warrior spirits occupied a special part of the underworld in the house of Tiki, but in Mangaia the warriors' spirit realm was totally detached from the region occupied by Miru. The concept of the exclusive warriors' spirit realm, embodied in verse and song, flattered the vanity of living warriors and exercised a great influence upon them. Aged warriors induced their relatives to give them positions in the battlefield in order that by being slain in battle they might join their warrior friends in Tiairi. Ikoke, son of Mautara, on hearing of the violent death of his brother Takurua, said, "I nunga i te puokia maua e aravei atu ei." (On the warriors' resting place we shall meet later on.) To accomplish the meeting he took care to die on a field of battle. The reaction of the concepts of the upper and lower spirit realms upon the people was to breed valiant fighters who were not only fearless of death on the battlefield, but rather welcomed it.