Info

Tirea

endrically important as well. That the star is "never seen by man except during the Tangaroa days" is another suggestion of traditional lore applying to a sidereal lunar month rather than a synodic month. Table 11.3 shows those Polynesian star names of reasonably certain identification that have given their name to months and the chaotic association with our months. There has clearly been some major distorting factor at work in these associations.

Interestingly, in Tahiti, the births of various deities are assigned to particular nights of the Moon. Kelley and Stewart (in preparation) discuss this at length and point out similarities with Mesoamerica (see also Kelley 1957).

In Polynesia, apparently time periods approximating our months were originally named for stars, probably at heliacal rising. Reconstructions based on lists from widely separated areas show that there were originally considerably more than 12 names, and the separation of known stars in the sky when identifications are clear is less than would be necessary if only 12 or 13 months were named. However, months seem later to have been identified with lunations. One way in which this was done was to begin the year with the heliacal rising of a star or an asterism and then to name each successive lunation. Johnson and Mahelona (1975, pp. 61-62) have pointed out that although the Hawaiian language is a branch of the East Polynesian linguistic grouping, the calendar names have their primary affinities with

Figure 11.1. The Mamari Tablet from Easter Island shows a sequence believed to relate to the Lunar Nights. Drawings by Sharon Hanna.

Western Polynesia (especially Tonga and Uvea) and apparently into Micronesia.

The sky is conceptualized as a giant house among the Gilbert Islanders of Micronesia (Figure 11.2, after Makemson (1941, Fig. 4, p. 109), who, however, claim to have come from the Samoan group. Makemson (1941, p.

107) has pointed out that this contains one striking anomaly, for the zenith is associated with the southern star, Rigel (b Orionis, now at 8 = -8°; in 1000 a.d., its declination was -10°, and in 500 a.d., -11°), whereas the Gilbert Islands extend from about 4° north of the equator to about 4° south. Recall that the declination of the zenith is equal to the lati-

Table 11.2. Those names of the Polynesian Nights of the Moon that can be identified as deity names: In DHK's opinion, the Tahitian list corresponds structurally with the eastern Polynesian prototype.

Tahiti

Deity names and comparisons

1. Tireo

2. Hiro-hiti

Simply *Filo in most lists. PP *Filo, god of thieves. Cf. Mao. Whiro, brother and enemy of Hua (cf. 13)

1. Tireo

2. Hiro-hiti

Simply *Filo in most lists. PP *Filo, god of thieves. Cf. Mao. Whiro, brother and enemy of Hua (cf. 13)

0 0

Post a comment