maandag 14 oktober 2013

Who or what do these ancient statues represent?

Temehea Tohua is located in Nuku Hiva. It is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. This beautiful yet unique island is home to some of the most strangest statues ever seen. Several statues seem to represent beings that do not appear to be from this world, but what are they really? Artists’ imagination or something that was seen at a certain period in time at the island?

At first glance they seem just seem like “big statues” but upon closer inspection, interesting details are revealed; Big eyes, large elongated heads, small bodies/huge bodies, and other several strange looking features that make you wonder what could have inspired the artist to carve such non-human features?
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It was formerly also known as Île Marchand and Madison Island.
                                                    Location of Nuku Hiva in Pacific 
Credit: Wikipedia
Herman Melville wrote his book Typee based on his experiences in the Taipivai valley in the eastern part of Nuku Hiva. Robert Louis Stevenson’s first landfall on his voyage on the Casco, was at Hatiheu, on the north side of Nuku Hiva, in 1888. Nuku Hiva was also the site for Survivor: Marquesas, the fourth installment of the popular CBS reality television show in the US
                                                        Nuku Hiva warrior 1813
Credit: Wikipedia
Nuku Hiva was, in ancient times, the site of two provinces, Te I’i covering somewhat more than the western two thirds of the island, and Tai Pi, covering the eastern third.
Latest studies indicate that the first people to arrive here came from Samoa around 2000 years ago, only later colonizing Tahiti, Hawaii, The Cook Islands and New Zealand. The legend has it that Ono, the god of creation, promised his wife to build a house in one day, so he gathered together land and created these islands, which are all named after parts of the house, Nuku Hiva being the roof. Everything he had left over he threw to one side and created a dump which is called Ua Huka. From these supposed origins the population rose to an untenable size; first European estimates vary from 50,000 to 100,000
Food became of prime importance. Breadfruit was the staple, but taro, plaintain and manioc also played a big part. As for meat, fish was the main source, but even so was limited because of the quantity needed to feed so many mouths. Pigs, chickens and dogs were also cultivated, and hunted when they took to the wilds.
Credit: Wikipedia
It is still debated why many Polynesian tribes or nations practiced cannibalism. Indeed a large number of Pacific Islands residents did so in pre-historic times. One theory is that cannibalism was more for food than ritual, although ritual played a big part. An offering to the gods was called Ika, which means fish, and a sacrifice was caught and, just like a fish, was hung by a fishhook in the sacred place. Those to be eaten were tied and hung up in trees until needed, then had their brains bashed out on execution blocks with a club. Women and children seem to have been cannibalized just for food, whereas warriors killed in battle were offerings to the gods and were eaten by their conquerors to absorb their power; their skulls were kept by their slayers for the same reason.


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