The regions of Micronesia, Melanesia & Polynesia have varied belief systems. However, there are some identifiable motifs. Ancestral worship in different forms is found throughout Oceania, but is most crucial in Micronesia and Polynesia. It was a means to control individual behavior preserving order and morality in a given society, maintain the cosmic order and re-etablish continuity between past generations and the living.
Many cosmic views in Oceania include dualism. Dualism is the idea that the universe is comprised of complementary opposites that are mutually defined in relation to their partners. For example: night-day, up-down; north-south; life-death; male-female, etc. This concept is aptly demonstrated in the genealogical chant Kumulipo As something is born in the ocean, so its partner is born on the land. We also see this dichotomy in many of the creation traditions. Supernatural beings and other related forces are numerous and omnipresent. In other words, ancestors, deities, and other spiritual beings associated with natural phenomena are always everywhere and ever-present. Mana (or mina) was strictly observed. Mana is authority or spiritual power and is often connected to respect and prestige. In Melanesia, this is closely linked with the acquisition of wealth through reciprocal obligations. In Micronesia and Polynesia, it is “power bestowed directly or indirectly form a supernatural source.” All things have mana, which originates from the gods. Such divine power can manifest itself in a variey of ways: intangible personal magnetism or charisma as well as talent in a specialized profession. Kapu/tapu is found throughout Oceanic philosophical thought. Kapu or tapu is a system of rules and regulations around a person, place or thing that is sacred. Kapu/tapu also regulate and protect the flow of mana from gods to humans, humans to humans and humans to gods. Included as kapu/tapu are rules of decorum and protocol that maintain societal structures. In architecture, heiau/marae (places of worship) and their surrounding grounds were kapu/tapu because of their association with religion. In pre-contact society, tapu was one of the strongest forces in Māori life. A violation of tapu could have dire consequences.
Rituals and rites associated with the gods are an essential part of ho`omana. Every aspect of Oceanic life revolved around philosophical theological, and spiritual thought. Significant events of human life, from birth to death, were commemorated with ritual and ceremony in various forms. The activities of daily life were initiated and performed according to the appropriate rituals to corresponding deities. A ritual may be as simple as a prayer or as complex as the Tongan first-fruit ʻInasi ceremony. In each case, ritual is the conduit through which mana is transmitted, society ordered, and protocol observed. A portion of dried root or a cup of the drink was frequently included in offerings to the gods, and priests often drank `awa/kava at the end of a ceremony The kava ceremony is singularly the most significant ritual element of Polynesian societies. It serves a variety of purposes from welcome, reconciliation, anointing, atonement etc. It involves the ritual drinking of a beverage made from the crushed root of the kava plant. The kava is served in a cup often made from a coconut shell with the beverage drawn from a central carved wooden or stone bowl. A kava ceremony involves strict protocols, particularly relating to the order in which those present are offered the kava cup. The most highly esteemed is served first and then others follow in order of their social status.
Te Kore signified space – it contained in its vastness the seed of the universe and therefore was a state of potential Te Po was the celestial realm and the domain of the gods. This was the source of all mana and tapu Te Aomarama is the world of light and reality, the dwelling place of humans In the beginning there was only Te Kore. This signifies the time during which the matter of the universe came together and generated earth and sky. Te Po, the second state of existence was a period that signified emptiness and darkness of mind. Because there was no light, there was no knowledge. Because of the close marital embrace between Ranginui and Papatuanuku, light could not enter Te Po. Their sons plotted against them to let light into the world. They concluded that their plight of living in a world of darkness and ignorance could be alleviated by separating their parents, so that Ranginui would become the sky father above them and Papatuanuku would remain with them as their earth mother. The task of separating earth and sky was accomplished by their son, Tanemahuta who pried them apart with his shoulders to the ground and his legs thrusting upwards. The separation of earth and sky brought into being Te Aomarama, the world of light. This is the third state of existence, the abode of human beings. came about from the separation of the earth and sky.
An enclosed area of land where a meeting house or wharenui stands. Center for much of Māori community life Meetings and ceremonies take place in marae
In Tahiti, marae were dedicated to specific deities and also connected with specific lineages said to have built them. Only at a marae could the atua (gods) be called to earth by the tahu`a (priests) to embody scuplted idols and give bmen “mana.” Only the gods could impart mana, and so they needed to be called regularly via priest-led rituals and this could only be done at a marae Taputapuatea marae that as restored in 1994
Belief if many gods The ancient Tongan gods were numerous formless spirits who might incarnate themselves in any shape or form they desired such as a shark (`anga), gecko (moko) or a stone (maka). The most revered of all chiefs, the Tu`i Tonga, was believed to be a direct descendant from Tangaloa and a human female. Therefore, all Tongans, regardless of rank, paid respectful homage to him. As deity personified, the Tu`i Tonga received a special share of the offerings during the annual first-fruits ceremony of `inasi
The Samoans had no idols of worship but they believed in the visible incarnation of their gods. Each person, family and district venerated an object, animal, fish or human being whom they believed was the incarnation of their gods. It was to these they prayed and made offerings of food and Ava. If the object, fish, animal or human whom they venerated was dead the Samoans believed that the spirit or soul would incarnate in another form. They firmly believed in the immortality of the soul.
Production and transportation of moai are considered remarkable creative and physical feats. The tallest moai erected was almost 33 feet high and weighed 82 tons. The average height of the moai is about 13 feet high, with an average width at the base of around 5 feet across. These massive creations usually weigh about 13 tons each.
Pre-Christian place of worship, shrine; some heiau were elaborately constructed stone platforms, others simple earth terraces. Many are preserved today. To the kanaka maoli, the gods were everywhere through kinolau and in ki`i or sacred images Traditional sacred sculptures in heiau Ki`i are sacred images or wooden statues of the Hawaiian gods. The large ki`i were in heiau, but sadly most of the ki`i were destroyed when the kapu system was abolished in 1819. The bent knee position demonstrates a warrior going into battle. The bent knee position symbolizes balance, enhancing the ability to shift weight quickly when throwing or dodging a spear. Bent knees also demonstrated being prepared and grounded
• 3 states of existence
– Te Kore (the void)
– Te Po (the dark)
– Te Aomarama (the world of light)
• Ranginui (Rangi) & Papatuanuku (Papa)
– T ne: forests, including birdsā
– Rongo: peaceful activities and agriculture and the ancestor
of cultivated plants
– Tangaroa: ocean
– T : war and its attendant featuresū
– Haumea: uncultivated plants
• Ta`aroa – creator of the universe, father of
• `Oro – Ta`aroa’s first son; god of both war and
• T ne – god of the sky and of beauty; kept theā
gods’ water, the water of immortality
• T – Ta`aroa’s best craftsman; invoked forū
victory at war and to guide craftsmens’ hands
• Ro`o – god of peace and agriculture
• Pulotu – the unseen world; believed to be the
home of all gods and goddesses
• Vaiola – magic healing water that could cure
any sickness or mend any wound
• Tangaloa – the sky god; ancestors of the Tu`i
• Tagaloa – a supreme ruler, creator of the
universe, the chief of all gods and the
progenitor of other gods and humans
• Saveasi`uleo – god of Pulotu (the underworld
• Nafanua – goddess of war; daughter of
• Tangaroa – the sun god
• Makemake – creator of mankind, god of
• Hotu-matua – the traditional founder (first-
settler) of the community
RAPA NUI: AHU, MARAE & MOAI
• Marae – sacred
place that served
• Ahu – stone platforms
adjacent to the marae;
today refers to the
• Moai – large carved