CLICK to enlarge

Legends, traditions, relics

Polynesian legends originate in ancient polytheist beliefs. Polynesians had several gods:  Taaroa, Tane, Tu, Oro, Hiro. Their adventures were told through legends, of which only an oral tradition remains. The only tangible records are found in archeological sites.

Ancient worshiping sites have been discovered:   the marae. Gods were worshipped there and it was also a place where society decisions were made, such as war, naming of the chiefs and human sacrifices. There were several kinds of marae, some for family ceremonies (biths, deaths, etc.), other were royal marae for major ceremonies bringing several islands together. Marae featured an area paved with stones and bordered by a small wall, sometimes with steps, an area reserved for the priests (the ahu) at one end and surrounded with standing stones, at the center of the platform used as back rests for the chiefs.

Petroglyphs are drawings roughly engraved in stone and representing turtles, suns, fishes, geometric patterns and, sometimes but seldom, human faces.

Tiki are statues carved in blocks of stone and with human features. They vary in size, the tallest is in the Marquesas and is 2.70 meter (8.5 ft) tall. Tiki probably had a religious function as they were located near the marae. They are also carved in bas-relief form, on canoes and paddles. The relics located in the Marquesas are the most representative. More

In the Marquesas, the platform is called Tohua,where not only ceremonies took place, but also celebrations and dances, as well as human sacrifices and offerings. In the Marquesas, you also find Pae pae stone platforms supporting houses made of vegetal materials, only the platforms survived the test of time.

CLICK to enlarge.

The Polynesian Society was marked by interdictions of a magic and religious character which gave birth to the term Tabu (taboo), which means forbidden or off limits. Anthropologists believe that Taboo is a religious phenomenon which constitutes the negative side of the sacred. First among things that were taboo, we should mention the strangest:  everything out of the ordinary was tabu (for example twins, double fruits, albinos). The term Tabu is frequently used to indicate a limit not to cross. Thus you will sometimes see small wooden signs marked "Tabu" on a piece of land, which means "private property".

Polynesians still respect ancient sacred sites known as being tapu and for example will not move a stone from a marae or a tiki that could be endowed with Mana and carry a curse. Mana is supernatural force, it is magic.

It may be why the Internet Service Provider in French Polynesia took the name: Mana… perhaps to remind us of the magic side of the Web...


Travel Guide & Travel Operator
Tahiti Guide is a registered Trademark
© 2017 Tahiti Zoom & Lodrez