On our drive around Moorea we stopped at this sacred site to have a bimble. In the Polynesian world, everything was centred on religion, politics, social organisation, family life, daily activities and major events. The marae was not only a place of worship where the locals honoured their gods and ancestors, it also expressed property rights, social rank and family organisation. New maraes had to be built around a stone coming from an old one.
The Europeans, when they arrived, saw many maraes from family ones to cooperative, public, district and some national.In a civilisation without the written word, the religious treasure of the ancients were passed down through the centuries by the priests, gifted with good memories.
The study of these remains, their siting and distribution made it possible for R.C. Green to establish that this valley has been populated in a continuous manner for at least six hundred years. The oldest village – Opunoho – dates back to the thirteenth century where excavations have lifted shells, fish bones and domestic artifacts. At the end of his second voyage, Captain Cook’s departure was marked by a surprising scene, in Tahiti, a flotilla of more than two hundred war canoes, carrying an army of some ten thousand men, were in the midst of preparing to launch an attack on Moorea. Cook estimated at the time, that the population of Tahiti numbered around two hundred thousand, however, this impressive flotilla was not victorious. Oral tradition has passed down stories of many wars rocking Moorea, as well as many marvelous legends.
1. Area reserved for the gods and the spirits of the ancestors. 2. Upright stones, probably meant to be repositories for the gods, or symbols of the genealogical organisation. 3. Stylised woodcarvings symbolising birds as messengers of the gods. 4. Altar for large offerings such as pigs, dogs, fish etc. 5. Altars for smaller offerings such as vegetables, fruits and other smaller foods. 6. Sacred drums. 7. Paddle. 8. Ceremonial Pole. 9. Backrest Stones. Each one denoted the place of an important person during the ceremonies. 10. Court of the marae. 11. Large shelter for the sacred outrigger canoe. 12. Sacred ark containing the materials of worship. 13. House for the priests and guardians of the marae. While being raised, a human victim was sometimes offered in sacrifice. 14. Bier for the dead. After being eviscerated and covered with oil, the corpse was exposed for several months and remained sheltered until completely withered.
Priest in mourning attire and bier for the departed. At the death of a chief, his oiled body was exposed under shelter. During the funeral ritual the priest wore an impressive costume featuring feathers and mother-of-pearl and held a shark tooth armed weapon.
This mobile ark carried items of worship. To’o, in basket material represented the gods to whom this marae was consecrated – Ta’aroa, the creator, Tane, the demi-god and Oro, the god of war.
Vegetables, fruits, sometimes pigs and dogs were placed on the elevated altars. Human sacrifice (men only) were killed before a ceremony only for the greatest functions held on the marae ari’l dedicated to Oro. This is the first time we have seen a reference to human sacrifice since we arrived in French Polynesia.
We wandered the rest of this well kept site.
As it would have looked and today..........
ALL IN ALL AN INTERESTING STOP