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to draw its roots out of the ground at the approach of the ceremony, and to leap into the hand of the person who was sent for it.
The inauguration ceremony, answering to coronation among other nations, consisted in girding the king with the maro ura, or sacred girdle of red feathers; which not only raised him to the highest earthly station, but identified him with their gods. The maro or girdle was made with the beaten fibres of the aoa; with these a number of uru, red feathers, taken from the images of their deities, were interwoven with feathers of other colours. The maro thus became sacred, even as the person of the gods, the feathers being supposed to retain all the dreadful attributes of power and vengeance which the idols possessed, and with which it was designed to endow the king. The sacred girdle which was shewn to Capt. Cook in the marae at Atehuru, and which was used by the sovereigns of Tahiti, was five yards long, and fifteen inches wide. It was covered with red and yellow feathers: one end was bordered with eight pieces, about the size and shape of a horseshoe, and fringed with black feathers; the other end was forked; the feathers were ranged in square figures. The pendant which Capt. Wallis hoisted at Matavai was attached to this girdle. Every part of the proceeding was marked by its absurdity or its wickedness, but the most affecting circumstance was the murderous cruelty attending even the preparation for its celebration.
In order to render the gods propitious to the transmission of this power, a human victim was sacrificed when they commenced the fatu raa, or manufacture of this girdle. This unhappy wretch was called the sacrifice for the mau raa titi, commencement or fastening on of the sacred maro.
Sometimes a human victim was offered for every fresh piece added to the girdle; and when it was finished, another man, called "Sacrifice for the piu raa maro," was slain; and the girdle was considered as consecrated by the blood of those victims. On the morning of what might be called the coronation day, when the king bathed, prior to the commencement of the ceremonies, another human victim was required in the name of the gods.
The pageant, on this occasion, proceeded by land and water. The parties, who were to be engaged in the transactions of the day, assembled in the marae of Oro. Certain ceremonies were here performed the image of Oro, stripped of the sacred cloth in which he usually reposed, and decorated with all the emblems of his divinity, was conveyed to the large court of the temple; the Papa rahi o ruea, or great bed of Oro, a large curiously formed bench or sofa, cut out of a solid piece of timber, was brought out, for the throne on which the king was to sit.
When these preliminaries were finished, they proceeded from the temple in the following order.
Tairi-moa, one of the priests of the family of Tairi, carried the image of Oro. The king followed immediately after the god. Behind him the large bed of Oro was borne by four chiefs. The miro-tahua, or orders of priests, with the great drum from the temple, the trumpets, and other instruments, followed. Each of the priests wore a tapaau on the arm, consisting of the braided leaflets of the cocoa-nut tree. As soon as the image appeared without the temple, the multitude, who were waiting to witness the pageant, retired to a respectful distance on each side, leaving a wide clear space. The priests sounded their trum
pets, and beat the sacred drum, as they marched in procession from the temple to the sea-shore, where a fleet of canoes, previously prepared, was waiting for them. The sacred canoe, or state barge of Oro, was distinguished from the rest by the tapaau, or sacred wreaths of platted cocoa-nut leaves, by which it was surrounded, and which were worn by every individual on board.
As soon as the procession reached the beach, Oro was carried on board, and followed by the priests and instruments of music, while the king took his seat upon the sacred sleeping-place of Oro, which was fixed on the shore. The chiefs stood around the king, and the priests around the god, until, upon a signal given, the king arose from his seat, advanced into the sea, and bathed his person. The priest of Oro then descended into the water, bearing in his hand a branch of the sacred mero, plucked from the tree which grew in the precincts of the temple. While the king was bathing, the priest struck him on his back with the sacred branch, and offered up the prescribed ubu, or invocation, to Taaroa. The design of this part of the ceremony was to purify the king from all mahuru huru, or defilement and guilt, which he might have contracted, according to their own expression, by his having seized any land, banished any people, committed murder, &c.
When these ablutions were completed, the king and the priest ascended the sacred canoe. Here, in the presence of Oro, he was invested with the maro ura, or sacred girdle, interwoven with the feathers from the idol. The priest, while employed in girding the king with this emblem of dominion and majesty, pronounced an ubu, commencing with Faa atea te arii i tai i motu tabu, "Extend
or spread the influence of the king over the sea to the sacred island;" describing also the nature of his girdle, and addressing the king at the close, by saying-Medua teie a oe e te Arii: "Parent this, of you, O king;" indicating that from the gods all his power was derived.
As soon as the ubu was finished, the multitude on the beach, and in the surrounding canoes, lifted up the right-hand, and greeted the new monarch with loud and universal acclamations of Maeva arii! maeva arii! The steersman in the sacred canoe struck his paddle against the side of the vessel, which was the signal to the rowers, who instantly started from the shore towards the reef, having the god, and the king, girded as it were with the deity, on board; the priests beating their large drum, and sounding their trumpets, which were beautiful large turbo, or trumpet-shells. The thronging spectators followed in their canoes, raising their right-hand in the air, and shouting Maeva arii!
Having proceeded in this manner for a considerable distance, to indicate the dominion of the king on the sea, and receive the homage of the powers of the deep, they returned towards the shore.
During this excursion, Tuumao and Tahui, two deified sharks, a sort of demi-gods of the sea, were influenced by Oro to come and congratulate the new king on his assumption of government. If the monarch was a legitimate ruler, and one elevated to the office with the sanction of the superior powers, these sharks, it was said, always came to pay their respects to him, either while he was bathing in the sea, or during the excursion in the sacred canoe. But it is probable, that when they
approached while his majesty was in the water, some of his attendants were stationed round, to prevent their coming too near, lest their salutations should have been more direct and personal than would have proved agreeable. Yet, it is said that the parents of the present rulers of some of the islands, at the time of their inauguration, actually played with these sharks, without receiving any injury.
The fleet reaching the shore, the parties landed, when the king was placed on the papa rahi o ruea, or sacred couch of Oro, as his throne; but instead of a footstool, the ordinary appendage to a throne, he reclined his head on the urua Tafeu, the sacred pillow of Tafeu. This was also cut out of a solid piece of wood, and ornamented with carving.
The procession was now formed as before, and moving towards Tabutabuatea, the great national temple, Tairimoa, bearing the image of Oro, led the way. The king, reclining on his throne, or couch of royalty, followed immediately after. He was borne on the shoulders of four principal nobles connected with the reigning family. The chiefs and priests followed in his train, the latter sounding their trumpets, and beating the large sacred drum, while the spectators shouted Maeva arii! as they proceeded to the temple. The multitude followed them into the court of the marae, where the king's couch or throne was fixed upon the elevated stone platform, in the midst of the unu, or carved ornaments of wood erected in honour of the departed chiefs whose bones had been deposited there.
The principal idol Oro, and his son Hiro, were placed by the side of the king, and the gods and