Rapanui Proper and Place Names versus Rongorongo Texts

© Sergei V. Rjabchikov

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Part 11.

31. It is pertinent to note that the people from the Raa tribe were tattooed with a sun design (Routledge 1914-1915). Hence, the names of some persons of this tribe can be associated with the solar symbolism, too. In accordance with a Rapanui legend (Métraux 1940: 121-122), two young men, Taka and Parapuna, and a woman of the Miru tribe were in a cave during a war between this tribe and the Tupa-hotu. This woman gave birth to four sons for each person. These children became the ancestors of the tribes Hamea and Raa.

Now one can try to interpret the names of their parents (cf. Rapanui taka ‘bright red’, Old Rapanui para ‘shine; light’, Maori para ‘to shine clearly’, Rapanui mea ‘reddish’, meamea ‘red’, Maori mea ‘red’ and Rapanui raa ‘the sun’).

Let us examine a text (I 7) of the Santiago staff presented in figure 40.


Figure 40.

It reads as follows: 34 25-25 (102) 28-5 60 7 Raa huahua ngati, mata Tuu. ‘(The tribe) Raa is a son of the tribe (tribal union) Tuu.’ Old Rapanui ngati ‘tribe’ corresponds to Tuamotuan ngati ‘tribe’.

32. According to a Rapanui legend (Métraux 1940: 139-140), six young men Aamai and their distant cousin Toka-ngutu put masks and said that they are gods, they are the god Makemake. The people believed that they were gods and gave them food, chickens, crayfish, fish, tuna, eels, wooden images and dance paddles. Then the men understood that were deceived, and they killed Toka-ngutu.

The name Aamai correlates with Rapanui haamau ‘gift; pleasure’; the name Toka-ngutu correlates with Rapanui toko ‘staff’, ngutu ‘the bill of a bird’ (the alternations of the sounds h/-, u/i, o/a are possible). The term toko is the designation of a ceremonial paddle (ao, rapa) in the rongorongo records (Rjabchikov 1998-1999: figure 3). I conclude that the Rapanui priests put masks in different rites, and the natives were aware of such activities. Moreover, it is clear that such masks represent birds. A. Métraux (1940: 140) uses the expression manu uru for the designation of the Rapanui masks. I translate it as ‘bird’s image was put’. Thus, my inference about the connection of masks and birds is correct.

Let us consider a text (I 11) of the Santiago staff presented in figure 41.


Figure 41.

It reads as follows: 62 (102) 44 60 9 4 44 6 26 50 Too Taha Mata N(g)utu, Taha Amai. ‘The Frigate Bird Mata N(g)utu ‘The face (resembling) a beak’ (and) the Frigate Bird Amai ‘Gifts; Pleasure’ take (gifts).’

Glyphs 9 4 niu (a)tu read n(g)utu in this context (the alternations of the sounds n/ng, i/u are possible), cf. Hawaiian nuku [nutu] ‘the bill of a bird’ as well.

33. Let us examine two texts, see figure 42.


Figure 42.

A text (I 7) of the Santiago staff is presented in fragment 1. It reads as follows: (a vertical line) 49 (102) 6 12 (102) 33-29 62-62 6 11 (a vertical line) (Ariki) mau a ika, vairua Toto a Mango. ‘A king is dead; (he is appearing now as) the ghost Toto a Mango ‘The blood of the Shark.’ It is another form of the name of Nuku-te-Mango (cf. Rapanui toto ‘to increase’, too).

A parallel text on the Small Santiago tablet (Gv 2) is presented in fragment 2. It reads as follows: 14 6 (102) 4-28 11 62 (102) 62 Hau a tinga(ea) Mango Toto ‘A killed king (by the name of) Mango Toto.’

G. Forster (1972) and his companions were near the large erected statue Mangototo. It is probable that this monument was called for the king Mango Toto ‘The Shark – the blood’. He was a hero of the war between the Hanau Momoko and the Hanau Eepe.

34. Let us examine the beginning of a genealogy discovered by N.A. Butinov and Y.V. Knorozov (1957: 15; table 7) on the Small Santiago tablet (Gv 6), see figure 43.


Figure 43.

The text reads as follows: … 6 68 11 102 6 11 60 102 6 60 … A Honu Mango (or Pakia) ure, a Mango (or Pakia) Mata ure, a Mata. ‘… The Turtle, son of the Shark (Seal); the Shark (seal), son of the Face; the Face’. Rapanui a is an article of proper names.

So, here the grandfather, father and son are the personages Mata ‘The Face’, Mango (or Pakia) ure Mata ‘The Shark (Seal), son of the Face’ (the sequence of the words is as in usual Rapanui names now) and Honu ure Mango (or Pakia) ‘The Turtle, the son of the Shark (Seal)’. One can study a genealogy of the Rapanui kings written down by K. Routledge (1914-1915): 27. Atuamata, 28. Uremata, 29. Koruarongo. These names can be re-written in the following manner: 27. Atua Mata ‘The god ‘The Face’’ (= daylight; the sun; cloudless heavens), 28. Ure Mata ‘(Someone), son of ‘The Face’’, 29. (Atua) ko rua Rongo ‘The second (god) Rongo (after this unknown deity)’. In a genealogy of the Rapanui kings written down by A. Métraux (1940: 127) the god Tangaroa (ariki or the king) is the father of the god/king Ko Rongorongo a Tangaroa.

We can unite the lists of several names offered by K. Routledge and A. Métraux. Thus, the three names of the gods and mythical kings are as follows: Mata, Tangaroa ure Mata and Rongo (ure) Tangaroa. I conclude that the Shark (Seal) = Tangaroa, and the Turtle = Rongo. Actually, in the Mangaian mythology both gods are twins, and they are children of Vatea (Daylight) and Papa (Earth). According to the Samoan beliefs, Logo (Rongo) is the son of the god Tagaloa (Tangaroa) who is the son of ‘Cloudless heavens’ and ‘Spread-out heavens’ (Tregear 1891: 425, 463). On the other hand, the god Tangaroa is the lord of ocean. Hence, the gods Tangaroa and Rongo are incarnated in different sea creatures, and the Shark (Seal) = Tangaroa, and the Turtle = Rongo. According to a Rapanui myth (Métraux 1940: 310-311), the god Tangaroa was incarnated in the seal.

35. Let us examine a text (Sb 8) on the Great Washington tablet, see figure 44.


Figure 44.

The texts reads as follows: 3 6 29 6 40 28 17 25 29 44 48 21-17 44 [a segment is damaged] 5-15 69-5 44 69-5 3-3 Marama [Hina] aru a Renga te huru tau. Ko te ta[ura tinga(e) Marama [Hina]. Hakatere] atua roa moko-ATU taha, moko-ATU Maramamarama [Hinahina]. Marama took (a son of) Renga 10 years (ago). The priest (i.e. Renga) killed (the brothers) Marama. The great lord (Renga = the ariki paka?) released one child, the child (by the name of) Maramamarama.’

A version of this story is preserved in the legend about the origin of the tablet tau (Englert 1974: 250-251). Ure a Reka was a resident of Vai Mata (the Miru tribe). Old Rapanui ure can designate the plurality or a high rank. Old Rapanui reka reads renga as well, cf. Rapanui reka, renga ‘good’ (the alternation of the sounds k/ng is possible). A son of this personage was called Ngungurei. This name means ‘The reading of a record (inscribed) on a royal pendant rei-miro’. It is clear that the man who wrote and read such inscriptions gave the corresponding name to his son. Hence, Ure a Reka (Ure a Renga, Reka, Renga) was a priest of the king Nga Ara in fact. I conclude that he was the same Ure a Reka mentioned in the Rapanui legend (Heyerdahl and Ferdon, 1965: figures 139-142) translated above. I believe that this priest lived in 1830s. In this case, the events of both legends can be dated to 1830s. In that period the king Nga Ara (= Ure Ara Runga) was still only one absolute ruler of Easter Island. Later warriors came to power on the island.

The word te (this) is presented after the name Renga in the record. A rongorongo man used this method to inform about the second glyph 28 nga. So, the next word is Old Rapanui [nga]huru ‘ten’ (cf. Rapanui angahuru ‘ten’) that is comparable with Proto-Nuclear Polynesian *gafulu ‘ten’ (Biggs and Clark 2006). According to the famous Rapanui text He timo te akoako, he akoako tena ‘A pupil carves (a sign), (he) learns (repeats?) that (sign)’, the sign marked as te (this) or tena (that) could be repeated twice.

Old Rapanui moko ‘child’ is comparable with Proto-Polynesian *mokopuna ‘grandchild’ (Biggs and Clark 2006). Rapanui atu ‘pupil’ is a generic determinative here. Old Rapanui taha ‘one’ correlates with Rapanui tahanga ‘one’ (< taha-nga).

Perhaps, in this inscription and in the corresponding legend the sacrifices of the people of the tribe Marama are described.

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