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after death were deified by their descendants. Roo, Tane, Teiri, probably Tairi principal idol of the Sandwich Islanders, Tefatu, Ruanuu, Moe, Teepa, Puaua, Tefatuture, Opaevai, Haana, and Taumure. These all received the homage of the people, and were on all public occasions acknowledged among Tahiti's gods.
Their gods of the ocean were not less numerous; this was to be expected amongst a people dwelling in islands deriving a great part of their sustenance from the sea, and almost amphibious in their habits. names of fourteen principal marine divinities were communicated by the first Missionaries; others have been subsequently added, but it is unnecessary to enumerate them here. They are not supposed by the people to be of equal antiquity with the akua fauau po, or night-born gods.
They were probably men who had excelled their contemporaries in nautical adventure or exploit, and were deified by their descendants. Hiro is conspicuous amongst them, although not exclusively a god of the sea. The most romantic accounts are given in their aai, or tales, of his adventures, his voyages, his combat with the gods of the tempests, his descent to the depth of the ocean, and residence at the bottom of the abyss, his intercourse with the monsters there, by whom he was lulled to sleep in a cavern of the ocean, while the god of the winds raised a violent storm, to destroy a ship in which his friends were voyaging. Destruction seemed to them inevitable-they invoked his aid a friendly spirit entered the cavern in which he was reposing, roused him from his slumbers, and informed him of their danger. He rose to the surface of
the waters, rebuked the spirit of the storm, and his followers reached their destined port in safety.
The period of his adventures is probably the most recent of any thus preserved, as there are more places connected with his name in the Leeward Islands than with any other. A pile of rock in Tahaa is called the Dogs of Hiro; a mountain ridge has received the appellation of the Pahi, or Ship of Hiro; and a large basaltic rock near the summit of a mountain in Huahine, is called the Hoe or Paddle of Hiro.
Tuaraatai and Ruahatu, however, appear to have been the principal marine deities. Whether this distinction resulted from any superiority they were supposed to possess, or from the conspicuous part the latter sustains in their tradition of the deluge, is not known; but their names are frequently mentioned. They were generally called akua mao, or shark gods; not that the shark was itself the god, but the natives supposed the marine gods employed the sharks as the agents of their vengeance, in punishing transgressors.
The large blue shark was the only kind supposed to be employed by the gods; and a variety of the most strange and fabulous accounts of the deeds they have performed are related by their priests. These voracious animals were said always to recognize a priest on board any canoe, to come at his call, retire at his bidding, and to spare him in the event of a wreck, though they might devour his companions, especially if they were not his maru, or worshippers. I have been repeatedly told by an intelligent man, formerly a priest of an akua mao, that the shark through which his god was manifested, swimming in the sea, carried either him or his father on its back from Raiatea to Huahine, a distance of twenty miles. The shark was not
the only fish the Tahitians considered sacred. In addition to these, they had gods who were supposed to preside over the fisheries, and to direct to their coasts the various shoals by which they were periodically visited. Tahauru was the principal among these; but there were five or six others, whose aid the fishermen were accustomed to invoke, either before launching their canoes, or while engaged at sea. Matatini was the god of fishing-net
Next in number and importance to the gods of the sea, and the aerial regions, frequently worshipped under the figure of a bird, were those of the peho te moua te pari e te faa, the valleys, the mountains, the precipices, and the dells or ravines. The names of twelve of the principal of these are preserved by the Missionaries—I have them by me-but as few of them are indicative of the character or attributes of these gods, their insertion is unnecessary.
I have often thought, when listening to their fabulous accounts of the adventures of their gods, which, when prosecuting our researches in their language, manners, customs, &c. we have sometimes with difficulty induced them to repeat, that, had they been acquainted with letters, these would have furnished ample materials for legends rivalling in splendour of machinery, and magnificence of achievement, the dazzling mythology of the eastern nations. Rude as their traditions were, in the gigantic exploits they detail, and the bold and varied imagery they employ, they are often invested with an air of romance, which shews that the people possessed no inferior powers of imagination.
By their rude mythology, their lovely islands were made a sort of fairy-land, and all the spells of enchant
ment were thrown over its varied scenes. The sentiment of the poet that
"Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep,"
was one familiar to their minds; and it is impossible not to feel interested in a people who were accustomed to consider themselves surrounded by invisible intelligences, and who recognized in the rising sun, the mild and silver moon-the shooting star-the meteor's transient flame-the ocean's roar-the tempest's blast, or the evening breeze-the movements of mighty spirits. The mountain's summit, and the fleecy mists that hang upon its brows-the rocky defile-the foaming cataract-and the lonely dell-were all regarded as the abode or resort of these invisible beings.
An eclipse of the moon filled them with dismay; they supposed the planet was natua, or under the influence of the spell of some evil spirit that was destroying it. Hence they repaired to the temple, and offered prayers for the moon's release. The shape and stability of their islands they regarded as depending on the influence of spirits. The high and rocky obelisks, and detached pieces of mountain, were viewed as monuments of their power.
The large mountain on the left-hand side of the entrance to Opunohu, or Taloo harbour, which separates this bay from Cook's harbour, and is only united to the island by a narrow isthmus, was ascribed by tradition to the operations of those spirits, who like the spirits in most other parts of the world, prefer the hours of darkness for their achievements. This mountain, it is stated, was formerly united with the mountains of the interior, and yielded in magnitude to none; but one night, the spirits of the place determined
to remove it to the Leeward Islands, nearly one hundred miles distant, and accordingly began their operations, but had scarcely detached it from the main land, when the dawn of day discovered their proceedings, and obliged them to leave it where it now stands, forming the two bays already named. An aperture in the upper part of a mountain near Afareaitu, which appears from the lowland like a hole made by a cannon-ball, but which is eight or nine feet in diameter, is said to have been made by the passage of a spear, hurled by one of these supernatural beings.
Amusement was in part the business of a Tahitian's life; and with their games, as well as with every other institution, idolatry was connected. Many were called sacred games, and over almost every one, the gods were supposed to exercise a control, though the people do not appear to have been such ancient gamblers as the Hawaiians were. Five or six gods were imagined to preside over the upaupa, or games, of which Urataetae was one of the principal.
The most benevolent of their gods were Roo or Tane, Temaru, Feimata, and Teruharuhatai. These were invoked by the tahua faatere, or expelling priests; and were supposed to exert their influence in restraining the effects of sorcery, or expelling the evil spirits, which, from the incantations of the sorcerer, had entered the sufferer. They had also patron deities of the healing art. Tama and Tetuahuruhuru were the gods of surgery; and their assistance was implored in reducing dislocations, healing fractures, bruises, &c. ; while Oititi, or Rearea, was their Esculapius or god of physic.
In addition to these, were gods who presided over the mechanic arts. The first was Oihanu or Ofanu,