Differences among Polynesians

Pontoon and Hut Over the Lagoon, Rangiroa, Taumotus, The, French Polynesia

Pontoon and Hut Over the Lagoon, Rangiroa, Taumotus, The, French Polynesia Photographic Print
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Differences among Polynesians

Although the inhabitants of the different Polynesian islands have descended from people who belonged to more than one race, their customs and beliefs are much alike. They even have some ancestors in common. From the same revered hero, Olopana, the Maoris and the Hawaiians record twenty-seven generations.

But just as in England, Japan, or the United States people in one part of the country speak differently, use different tools, and play different games, so in Polynesia the people in different islands differ from each other. Aloha in Hawaii, aroha in New Zealand, kaoha in the Marquesas, and alofa in Samoa are merely different spellings of the same word. In the Marquesas and in Hawaii the houses were rectangular; in Samoa and Tonga, they were oval. Only the Marquesans and the Maoris carved their house posts. Canoes in the Marquesas, New Zealand, and Hawaii were dug out of logs; in Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga they were built of planks. The shape of adzes, poi pounders, and stone images differs in different islands. Wooden bowls with legs, which are common in Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga, are rare in Hawaii and are not found in the Marquesas. In war, spears, clubs, and slings were used in all Polynesia, but the bow and arrow was an important weapon only in Tonga. The shell trumpet, the nose flute, and some kind of drum were used nearly everywhere; but the wooden trumpet was played only in New Zealand and in the Marquesas, and the musical bow was an important instrument only in Hawaii and the Marquesas. All Polynesians engaged in boxing, wrestling, and dart throwing, and all except the Tongans used surf boards. But kite flying was mostly a game for Maori children, and bowling with ulumaika stones and coasting down hill were games for Hawaiians. All Polynesians except the Maoris made tapa, but the tools for making it and the figures stamped or painted on it were different. Feathers were used for dress or ornaments in all islands, but in different ways, and feather cloaks were made only in New Zealand and Hawaii. All Polynesians carved in wood, but little attention was paid to this art except in the Marquesas and New Zealand; the method of representing the human figure in carving, painting, and in petroglyphs was different. The Marquesans and the Maoris were cannibals, and they hunted heads of enemies and preserved them as decorations; the Tahitians, Samoans, and Tongans hunted heads but did not keep them. The Hawaiians were not cannibals and did not hunt heads. Burial customs were different in each island group. In the Marquesas and New Zealand were regular schools for the training of young people. In other parts of Polynesia education was not organized.

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