Tiki… 9° 00S, 139° 30W

Tiki from Marquisas Islands

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I’ve always had this fascination for French Polynesia (especially the Marquesas). I discovered these distant regions in 1984, during my military service. At that time, I bought many things including this beautiful Tiki carved in lava stone.

IMG_3521Dim: 5.5″h x 3.5″w

Tiki refers to large wood and stone carvings of humanoid forms in Central Eastern Polynesian cultures of the Pacific Ocean. The term is also used in Maori mythology where Tiki is the first man, created by either Tūmatauenga or Tane. He found the first woman, Marikoriko, in a pond – she seduced him and he became the father of Hine-kau-ataata. In the Maori language, the word “tiki” was the name given to large wooden carvings in roughly human shape, although this is a somewhat archaic usage. The carvings often serve to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.

In traditions from the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand, the first human is a woman created by Tane, god of forests and of birds. Usually her name is Hine-ahu-one. In other legends, Tane makes the first man Tiki, then makes a wife for him. In some West Coast versions, Tiki himself, as a son of Rangi and Papa, creates the first human by mixing his own blood with clay, and Tane then makes the first woman. Sometimes Tūmatauenga, the war god, creates Tiki. In another story the first woman is Marikoriko. Tiki marries her and their daughter is Hine-kau-ataata (White 1887-1891, I:151-152). In some traditions, Tiki is the penis of Tane (Orbell 1998:178, Tregear 1891:510-511). In fact, Tiki is strongly associated with the origin of the procreative act.

Marquisas

Here is one story of Tiki among the many variants: Tiki was lonely and craved company. One day, seeing his reflection in a pool, he thought he had found a companion, and dived into the pool to seize it. The image shattered and Tiki was disappointed. He fell asleep and when he awoke he saw the reflection again. He covered the pool with earth and it gave birth to a woman. Tiki lived with her in innocence, until one day the woman was excited by an eel. Her excitement passed to Tiki and the first procreative act resulted.

 

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