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The Maui Cycle

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

OF all the myths from the Polynesian area, probably none have been more frequently quoted than those which recount the deeds and adventures of the demigod Maui. Among the Polynesians themselves almost every group had its own versions of the tales, and the large number of variants, many of which have fortunately been recorded, make the Maui cycle one of the most important for the-study of this whole area.

Maui, the hero of these tales, is generally described as one of a series of brothers, the number varying from three in Rarotonga to six in some of the New Zealand versions, although in Mangaia he is spoken of as having no brother.' As in hero tales generally, he is usually the youngest child, and in New Zealand especially the older Mauis are described as stupid or forgetful, while Maui, the hero, is clever or mischievous.' Thus the elder brothers used spears without barbs and eel-pots without trap-doors, and wondered why they were unsuccessful; but the youngest invented the barb on the spear and the trap-door for the eel-pot, and so succeeded where they failed. These two elements, i. e. that the hero is one of a number of brothers and that the others are stupid or foolish while he is wise and clever, are very strikingly developed in the Melanesian myths,' which often record two brothers and in which there is sometimes a greater antithesis of good and evil than is implied in the Polynesian myths. In the New Hebrides and vicinity, indeed, the hero at times appears under the name of Maui. While in the non-Maori parts of the Polynesian area Maui's birth is generally not dissimilar to that of his other brothers, in New Zealand the hero is declared to have been an abortion, which his mother wrapped up in her apron or top-knot, and either abandoned in the bush or threw into the sea.' Although thus deserted by his parent, Maui survived,' for the unformed child was tended by supernatural beings and reared to manhood, some versions declaring that he was taken up into the sky-world. There he grew up and engaged in a conflict with Maru (by one account, an elder brother),' whose crops he ruined by sending rain or snow upon them, for which Maru revenged himself by causing frost to kill Maui's crops, whereupon, in retaliation, the hero slew him.' Having at length reached maturity, Maui determined to seek out his parents and brothers, and came upon the latter engaged in playing at niti or teka. In this game reeds, fern stalks, or spears are cast so as to rebound from a small hillock of earth and slide along the ground, the winner being he whose niti goes farthest. After the brothers had hurled their spears, Maui asked to be allowed to throw, and as he did so he shouted his name, but the others at once disclaimed him and said that he had no right to be called Maui. He asked them, however, to summon their mother that she might decide, yet when she came, she at once declared that he was no child of hers and bade him begone. Maui next asked her to recall her past, and then she remembered that which she had cast away. Maui declared this to have been his origin and that his ancestors had saved him and brought him up. His mother finally recognized him, declared him her youngest son, and made him her favourite.' This episode of the return of the abandoned child is strikingly parallel to tales current in Melanesia,'" where a deserted child joins others who are playing a game and is ultimately recognized by his parent. So far as reported, this incident does not occur elsewhere in Polynesia, except in Nieue.

Of the many exploits of Maui three seem to be most widely spread, and these may, therefore, be first considered. They are fishing up the land, snaring the sun, and the quest of fire. As an example of the first of these feats we may take one of the New Zealand versions. Maui had an ancestress to whom it was the duty of the elder brothers to carry food, but they neglected her and ate it themselves. Maui offered to take their place, but when he came to his ancestress, he found her ill, one half of her body being already dead, whereupon he wrenched off her lower jaw, made from it a fish-hook, which he concealed about him, and then returned to his home. His brothers did not like to have him accompany them on their fishing trips, but Maui hid in their canoe, and when they were out at sea next day, he disclosed himself. At first they were going to put him ashore, but finally they agreed to let him stay, since they thought that he could not fish if they did not give him a hook. Nothing dismayed, Maui took out his magic hook, struck his nose with his fist until it bled, and baited his hook with the blood. Lowering his line, he soon got a tremendous bite and at last hauled in the land, like a great fish, from the bottom of the sea. Telling his brothers not to cut it up, he went away, but they disobeyed him and began to hack with their knives, thus causing the great fish to struggle, break the canoe, and kill the brothers, while, owing to the cuts made by them, the land became rough and rugged. In some versions of the myth the land so hauled up was that of Tonga; in others, it was New Zealand, which some of the Maori called Te-ikaa-maui, "The Fish of Maui." According to another account, the magic fish-hook was made from the jaw-bone of Maui's oldest son, whom Maui had killed for this purpose, the bait being the ear of this same child; and for three moons he laboured to drag up the great fish with the aid of Rupe, a pigeon, to whom he gave one end of the line.

It is in New Zealand that the story of this exploit of the hero is told with the greatest wealth of detail, although Hawaii also furnishes versions nearly as full." Here the reason is given why the brothers did not like to have Maui go fishing with them. He was not a very good fisherman, but was full of mischievous tricks by which he secured the catch actually taken by his brothers. When one of them began to haul in a prize, Maui would cry, "Look out, we have both caught the same fish," and would rapidly pull in his line, so manceuvring as to foul that of the other. As the fish was brought near the canoe, he would then slip his hook toward the head of the fish and flip it over into the canoe, thus causing his brother's line to slacken, and then, holding up the fish, he would say, "Oh, you lost your fish. Why didn't you pull steadily?" When at last the brothers allowed the tricky fellow to accompany them again, he baited his magic fish-hook with a bird, sacred to his mother, Hine; but the fish which he caught was so huge that he asked his brothers to help him haul it in, and as the land began to emerge from the sea, he cautioned them not to look back or the prize would be lost. One of the brothers disobeyed, and at once the line broke and the land also, so that, instead of a great single mass, it was fractured into a group of islands. Central Polynesia and Tonga present, so far as published materials go, much briefer accounts and in almost all cases attribute the same feat to Tangaroa also or some other deity or demigod. The episode seems to be but little known in Samoa." There it is attributed solely to Tangaroa and is a variant of the story of how, in the beginning, he cast a rock down from the sky to serve as an abiding place for his daughter, the snipe, in the world of waters. From the evidence it would appear that the episode was one which was a part of the older structure of Polynesian mythology and which in the central and western areas had been overlaid by later elements. Outside of the Polynesian region comparable myths have so far been noted in certain of the New Hebrides," Fotuna, Union Group, Gilbert Islands, and New Britain.

A Hawaiian version 23 of the snaring of the sun may be taken as an example of Maui's next exploit. Maui's mother was much troubled by the shortness of the day, occasioned by the rapid movement of the sun; and since it was impossible to dry properly the sheets of tapa used for clothing, the hero resolved to cut off the legs of the sun so that he could not travel so fast. His mother, accordingly, made strong ropes for him and sent him to his blind old grandmother to get added assistance. He found her cooking bananas, and as she laid them down one after the other, Maui stole them. At length discovering her loss, but unable to see the culprit, she sniffed about angrily until she smelt a man, whereupon she asked who it was, and when Maui told her that he was her grand-son, she forgave him and presented him with a magic club to aid him in his attack on the sun. Maui now went off east-ward to where the sun climbed daily out of the underworld, and as the luminary came up, the hero noosed his legs one after the other and tied the ropes strongly to great trees. Fairly caught, the sun could not get away, and Maui gave him a tremendous beating with his magic weapon. To save his life, the sun begged for mercy, and on promising to go more slowly ever after, was released from his bonds.

Substantially the same form of the story is found in New Zealand. Maui "observed that the time between the sun's rising and setting was very short, and he said to his brothers, `Let us tie the sun, that it may not go so fast, that man may have time to provide food for himself.' But his brothers said, `Man cannot go near to the sun on account of the heat.' Maui said, `You have seen the many acts that I have per-formed. I have taken the form of a bird, and again resumed that of a man, while you have ever had the form of men. And now, my brothers, I can do what I propose, and even greater acts than this.' His brothers consented, and commenced to plait ropes. . . . When these had been made Maui took his weapon, made of the jaw-bone of his progenitor . . . and his brothers took their weapons and the ropes, and they . . . journeyed till they had got near where the sun came up. Maui, addressing his brothers, said, `Beware you do not surprise and unnecessarily startle the sun; but let his head and shoulders be fully within the noose, and be ready when I call to pull the opposite ends of the ropes. When the sun is caught, I will rise and beat him. But let the ropes be securely fastened that he may be held for some time. And O young men! do not heed his cry of pain. Then we will let him go.

"The sun came up like blazing fire, and when his head and shoulders had entered the noose Maui encouraged his brothers to action by saying `Now pull.' They did so, and the sun drew his limbs together with a twitch. Maui rushed at him with his weapon, and scarce had the sun time to call before Maui was belabouring him, and continued to so do for some time. When they let him go he went away crippled, and in the anguish of his pain he uttered another of his names, Tama-nui-ate-ra (great child of the sun), and said, `Why am I so beaten by you, O man! I will have my revenge on you for having dared to beat the great child of the sun.' He departed on his way, but was unable to travel so fast as before."

It will be noted that this and other New Zealand versions, like all those so far recorded from the rest of Polynesia, lack the incident of the visit to the blind grandmother. This episode of the stealing of food from a blind person is, however, widely current in Polynesia, but is, as a rule, told in connexion with another hero, Tawhaki, whose adventures and relation-ship will be considered later. On the other hand, it is not un-common in Melanesia, and is also found in Micronesia 28 and Indonesia. In the Society Group a somewhat different aspect is given to the story by the fact that the purpose was not to make the sun go more slowly, but to bring it nearer, so that it might more quickly heat the stones that Maui used in cooking his food. In Samoa the adventure, albeit in a somewhat abbreviated form, is attributed not to Maui but to the Sun-Child, some of whose other adventures are widely spread in Polynesia.

The third of the great exploits usually accredited to Maui is that of the fire-quest. As with much of the Maui cycle, the fuller versions have been best preserved in New Zealand." According to these, Maui and his brothers lived with their mother, but every morning she disappeared before they awoke, and none knew whither she went. Determining to solve the mystery, Maui stopped up every chink and cranny in the house, thus preventing the morning light from coming in, so that his mother overslept, and Maui, waking in time, saw her leave the house, pull up a clump of reeds or grass, and disappear down the opening thus revealed. Adopting his favourite disguise of a bird, he followed, flying down the aperture to the world below, where he revealed himself to his parent and demanded food. The fire being out, his mother was about to send a servant to secure some, when Maui volunteered to bring it and accordingly went to the house of his ancestor Mafuike, an old woman who was the owner and guardian of fire. Of her he begged a brand, and she gave him one of her fingers, in which fire was concealed. He started away, but when out of sight, quenched it in a stream and returned for more. She gave him another finger, which he extinguished in a similar manner, and thus got from her in succession all her fingers and toes, except the last, with which, in anger, she set the world afire. Maui fled, but was pursued by the flames, which threatened to consume everything, so that in distress he called upon rain, snow, and hail to aid him, and they, coming to his assistance, succeeded in putting out the conflagration and thus saved the world. In some versions Maui then returned to this world, having conquered the fire-deity; but in others the latter threw the last of the fire into various trees, which since then have preserved the germ of fire, which can be called forth by friction. Similar tales have been recorded from several of the other Polynesian groups 34 The practical absence of this myth from the Society Group is probably due to the very small amount of myth material so far published from there; on the other hand, the whole Maui cycle is apparently less important in this Group than elsewhere.

The various versions of this legend which have been recorded in the Polynesian area present minor differences which would seem to be significant, and a consideration of some of the separate incidents of this myth may, therefore, be instructive. In the first place, the idea that fire was originally obtained from the underworld (a feature found in all these Polynesian versions) is one which also occurs in Melanesia; 35 although, on the other hand, a more usual explanation in this area is that fire was either brought from another land by some animal after several unsuccessful attempts or was accidentally discovered. In the Polynesian versions of Maui's exploit the method by which his parent and he reached the underworld varies considerably. Thus, in the form outlined above, the opening to the nether world is concealed under a tuft of reeds or grass, and this same idea appears in both the Samoan version and in that from Nieue. Forms of the tale from New Zealand, Samoa, and Mangaia (Cook Group), how-ever, state that the parent went to a rock or cliff, and repeating a charm caused it to open, thus revealing the entrance to the lower world. This "Open Sesame" incident by itself is found in numerous other myths from New Zealand, as well as from the Chatham Islands 38 and Tahiti, and is reported also from British New Guinea 40 and from Halmahera." Still another way of descent to the underworld, namely, by pulling up one of the house posts, occurs in one of the Maori versions, as it does in that from Manihiki.

In the New Zealand myths the underworld deity from whom Maui secures fire is described as an old woman, whereas in practically all the other portions of Polynesia where the myth is found this divinity is male a distinction which is possibly significant in view of the fact that in Melanesia we find an old woman as the owner or guardian of fire, from whom it is stolen or by whom it is given to mankind. Again, when Maui asks the New Zealand fire-goddess for fire, she takes off and gives to him one of her fingers or toes, the igneous element thus being obtained from the body of its owner. This incident is also found in the Chatham Island versions, and in a slightly modified form in the Marquesas, though it is lacking in other portions of Polynesia; but it is interesting to note, on the other hand, that this same conception of the obtaining of fire from the body of its owner occurs both in Melanesia 43 and in Micronesia " Where this myth is recorded in the Polynesian area, Maui is given merely a firebrand by the deity. In the Maori tales Maui has no fight with the owner of fire, but this is an important element in the versions elsewhere. In some cases (Mangaia, Manihiki, Marquesas, Society Group) Maui kills the fire-god, although in the Manihiki myth he miraculously restores him to life afterward. In Samoa (and in one version from the Marquesas) he does not kill the fire-god, but in wrest-ling with him tears off one of his arms, sparing the other at the deity's urgent request, a feature which seems to have analogues in Micronesia and Melanesia.

The incident of the rain being invoked to extinguish the conflagration which threatens to destroy the world is also known from the Melanesian area. From the foregoing it would appear that we must admit that Melanesian elements are to be recognized particularly in the New Zealand and Chatham Island versions of the myth, and perhaps in the Marquesas as well.

It will be noticed that in discussing this exploit of Maui no reference has been made to Hawaiian versions, this being due to the significant fact that Hawaii, alone of all the Polynesian groups, lacks the tale completely, although it possesses one of wholly different character. According to the Hawaiian story, when Maui and his three brothers were out fishing, they saw a fire burning on the shore, but on going in search of it, the birds (mud-hens) who had made it put it out and ran away. After several attempts to surprise them, Maui stayed on shore and sent his three brothers out in the canoe, thinking thus to fool the clever birds; but when they perceived that one of the Maui brothers was missing from the boat, they refused to build a fire. At last Maui hit upon a stratagem. Setting up in the canoe a roll of tapa arranged to look like a man, he hid on shore while his brothers put to sea with the dummy. The birds were deceived and set to work to build a fire, but before they had finished, Maui, who could not restrain his impatience, rushed up and caught one of them, threatening to kill it unless it divulged the secret of how to make fire. The bird tried to cheat him several times by giving him false in-formation, but at last, in peril of its life, told him the correct sorts of wood to use, and so the mystery was learned. In revenge for their attempted treachery Maui then rubbed the head of the bird with a firebrand, and so ever since these birds have had a red spot on the top of their heads.

In speaking of the more usual version of Maui's exploit it was pointed out that a wide-spread myth of the origin of fire in Melanesia and Indonesia declared that animals or birds brought it from a distant land. While this is by no means an exact parallel to the Hawaiian tale, it presents the nearest approach to it of any of the myths of the origin of fire that are known from the whole Pacific area.

One of the exploits attributed to Maui is that of raising the sky. In recounting the cosmogonic myths it has been shown that in New Zealand, and also in portions of central and west-ern Polynesia, this elevation of the heavens was performed by one or other of the great gods and is thus in reality a portion of the cosmogonic beliefs. As an episode of the Maui cycle, the incident seems to be lacking in New Zealand, while prevalent in central and western Polynesia and Hawaii. In Hawaii and Samoa the versions are nearly similar. The heavens were formerly, it is said, very low, and Maui volunteered to raise them if a woman would give him a draught of water from her gourd. She agreed, and by a series of exertions Maui lifted the sky, first to the level of the tree-tops, next to the mountain-tops, and then by a mighty effort thrust it up to its present height. The deed is here accomplished in a rather commonplace manner, wholly by Maui, or Tiitii, as he is called in Samoa, and no question of any deity whatever is involved.61 In Hawaii no other form of the episode seems to exist, but in Samoa there are several variants, according to which the sky is raised by another being at the behest of Tangaloa. Two types appear in the remainder of central Polynesia from which we have material available. There is, first, that where the action is attributed to one of the deities, usually Ru; and secondly, that form which ascribes the deed to Maui, aided by Ru. Almost throughout this area the myth is characterized by the statement that before the sky was raised it was held up by plants, which owe their flat leaves to the pressure so exerted. As was suggested on a previous page, the episode of the elevation of the heavens seems to have been originally a part of the cosmogonic myths prevalent through-out the Polynesian area, with the exception of Hawaii. In New Zealand it remained such, owing to the rupture of all communication with the rest of Polynesia after the period of the great migrations of the fourteenth century; but in central Polynesia, on the other hand, it largely lost its true cosmogonic character and was assimilated by the Maui cycle, being carried as such to Hawaii, which lacks any other form, though vestiges of the older cosmogonic type linger in the central area.

In the Maui cycle Hawaii presents a local and characteristic version of the fire-quest, a theme which seems universally present in one form or other. New Zealand, on the contrary, shows an episode not found in any other portion of Polynesia Maui's attempt to secure immortality for mankind. One cannot do better than quote Grey's version of this tale.

"Maui . . . returned to his parents, and when he had been with them for some time, his father said to him one day, `Oh, my son, I have heard from your mother and others that you are very valiant, and that you have succeeded in all feats that you have undertaken in your own country, whether they were small or great; but now that you have arrived in your father's country, you will, perhaps, be at last overcome.'

"Then Maui asked him, `What do you mean, what things are there that I can be vanquished by?' And his father answered him, `By your great ancestress, by Hine-nui-te-po, who, if you look, you may see flashing, and as it were, opening and shutting there, where the horizon meets the sky.' And Maui replied, ` Lay aside such idle thoughts, and let us both fearlessly seek whether men are to die or live forever.' And his father said, `My child, there has been an ill omen for us; when I was baptizing you, I omitted a portion of the fitting prayers, and that I know will be the cause of your perishing.'

"Then Maui asked his father, `What is my ancestress Hinenui-te-po like?' and he answered, `What you see yonder shining so brightly red are her eyes, and her teeth are as sharp and hard as pieces of volcanic glass; her body is like that of man, and as for the pupils of her eyes, they are jasper; and her hair is like the tangles of long seaweed, and her mouth is like that of a barracouta.' Then his son answered him, `Do you think her strength is as great as that of Tama-nui-ite-Ra, who consumes man, and the earth, and the very waters, by the fierceness of his heat? . . . But I laid hold of Tama-nuiite-Ra, and now he goes slowly.' . . . And his father answered him, `That is all very true, O, my last born, and the strength of my old age; well, then, be bold, go and visit your great ancestress who flashes so fiercely there, where the edge of the horizon meets the sky.'

"Hardly was this conversation concluded with his father, when the young hero went forth to look for companions to accompany him upon this enterprise : and so there came to him for companions, the small robin, and the large robin, and the thrush, and the yellow-hammer, and every kind of little bird, and the water wag-tail, and these all assembled together, and they all started with Maui in the evening, and arrived at the dwelling of Hine-nui-te-po and found her fast asleep.

"Then Maui addressed them all, and said, `My little friends, now if you see me creep into this old chieftainess, do not laugh at what you see. Nay, nay, do not I pray you, but when I have got altogether inside her, and just as I am coming out of her mouth, then you may shout with laughter if you please.' And his little friends, who were frightened at what they saw, replied, `Oh sir, you will certainly be killed.' And he answered them, `If you burst out laughing at me as soon as I get inside her, you will wake her up, and she will certainly kill me at once, but if you do not laugh until I am quite inside her, and am on the point of coming out of her mouth, I shall live, and Hine-nui-te-po will die.' And his little friends answered, `Go on then, brave sir, but pray take good care of yourself.'

"Then the young hero started off, and twisted the strings of his weapon tight round his wrist, and went into the house, and stripped off his clothes, and the skin on his hips looked mottled and beautiful as that of a mackerel, from the tattoo marks, cut on it with the chisel of Uetonga, and he entered the old chieftainess.

"The little birds now screwed up their tiny cheeks, trying to suppress their laughter; at last the little Tiwakawaka could no longer keep it in, and laughed out loud, with its merry cheerful note; this woke the old woman up, she opened her eyes, started up, and killed Maui."

This version lacks one element which appears in some, i. e. that, to accomplish his purpose, Maui must pass through into the world of night or death and then return, for thus, and thus only, could man survive the coming fate." In his attempt he succeeds in the first portion of the self-appointed task, yet is caught and killed just as the victory is all but gained. Although this is one of the favourite tales of Maui in New Zealand, there are variant recensions of his attempt to secure immortality for man, and these have considerable interest because, like that just discussed, they seem to be confined to New Zealand and to show unmistakable relationship to the tales of other areas. According to the other myths, it is the moon who is responsible for the fact that death is lasting. Maui wished that man might not die forever, and so said to Hina, the moon, "Let death be very short that is, Let man die and live again, and live on forever," whereupon Hina replied, "Let death be very long, that man may sigh and sorrow." Maui again said, "Let man die and live again, as you, the moon, die and live again," but Hina said, "No let man die and become like soil, and never rise to life again." And so it was.

We have here one of those simple tales, told in some form or other by many peoples, which account for death by declaring it to be the result of a dispute between two persons, one wanting immortality for man, the other not. Often, as in this in-stance, the case is settled merely by fiat; in others there is some form of conflict or other means of victory by one of the disputants; while very frequently the desired regeneration is compared to that of the snake which casts its skin and is thus renewed. This type of myth appears to be wholly lacking in Polynesia outside of New Zealand, with the exception of Tahiti, where the incident is, however, not related of Maui, and where the moon takes the positive instead of the negative side. It is perhaps significant that similar tales, or those ascribing the origin of death to some mistake or misunderstanding, are widely current both in Melanesia 61 and in Indonesia. The prevalence of legends of this character in New Zealand and of the more elaborated theories of the origin of death, as shown in the myth of Maui and Hine-nui-te-po, may well be interpreted, in view of their occurrence in Melanesia, as part of the demonstrated Melanesian influence in Maori mythology. Their absence in the rest of Polynesia, taken in connexion with their presence in Indonesia, is not so easy to explain, unless on the ground that they have been overlooked or not recorded.

The capture and imprisonment of the winds is one of the minor feats often attributed to Maui in New Zealand, where he is said to have caught and confined in caves all but the west wind, which eluded him. In Samoa the winds are gathered up and put in a canoe or coconut; while in the Chatham Islands they are collected in a basket, not by Maui, but by another hero, Tawhaki.

Two other episodes forming part of the New Zealand cycle of Maui stories remain to be considered. In the first of these Maui turns his brother-in-law into a dog, usually as a result of being angered by some action, such as that of eating up the bait prepared for fishing. There are many variants of the tale. In some the unsuspecting brother-in-law is transformed while Maui is cleaning his head; in others Maui moulds and models the sleeping victim into his canine shape; while in others again he produces the result by hauling his canoe over the body of his brother-in-law, whom he has asked to serve as a skid. So far as published material goes, this tale is not found outside of New Zealand.

The other episode is that where Maui kills Tuna, the eel lover of his wife. The latter went one day to the stream to get water, and while she stood on the bank, Tuna came up in the guise of a great eel, struck her with his tail, knocked her into the stream, and maltreated her. Angry at this, Maui laid down two logs on which Tuna might cross over, and then, hiding, killed the eel as he came, after which various plants, trees, fish, and monsters of the deep were derived from the creature's head and body. Unlike the previous episode, this seems to be more or less closely related to other incidents found else-where in Polynesia.

In Samoa, the Union Group," Mangaia, and Tahiti 73 a myth told to account for the origin of the coconut must be regarded as related. According to the Mangaian version, Ina, a maiden, was accustomed to bathe in a certain pool. One day a great eel crept up to her and touched her, and this occurred again and again until finally the eel threw off his disguise and revealed himself as a beautiful youth named Tuna, who there-after, accepted by Ina, became her lover and visited her in human form, resuming his animal shape when he left. At last Tuna declared that he must depart for ever, but that on the following day he would make one final visit as an eel in a great flood of water, when Ina must cut off his head and bury it. She did this, and according to his request visited the spot daily. For some time nothing was to be seen, but at length a green shoot became visible and finally grew into a beautiful tree. In course of time this produced fruits, which were the first coco-nuts, and on each nut, when husked, the eyes and face of Ina's lover can still be seen. In this form the tale occurs only in tropical Polynesia, i. e. in the region where the coconut is found; but in New Zealand, where this fruit does not grow, the legend seems to have assumed a slightly different aspect, and it is apparently lacking in Hawaii, although the coconut is abundant there.

Two aspects of this myth are worthy of further consideration. The "Beauty and the Beast" incident (i. e. the lover who comes in animal guise) is one widely current in parts of Melanesia and Indonesia, but apart from this central and west-ern portion it does not appear to be common in Polynesia. The origin of the coconut from the buried head of an animal or person is very wide-spread in Melanesia 78 and occurs also in Indonesia. The myth is, to be sure, one to which the general resemblance of the coconut to the human head might be expected to give rise, and in view of this its absence from Hawaii is interesting.

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