Rapanui Proper and Place Names versus Rongorongo Texts

© Sergei V. Rjabchikov

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Part 3.

7. A text (Sa 1) of the Great Washington tablet is presented in figure 8.


Figure 8.

It reads as follows: 4-6 45-46-45 62-4 69 A atua Punapu toti Moko ‘The god Puna (Spring) associated with the Lizard (the rain god Hiro).’ Here Old Rapanui toti means ‘attached’.

The Old Rapanui form punapu is the incomplete doubling of the form puna ‘spring, well’ (cf. Rapanui marama ‘light; crescent’, maramama ‘red-hot coals’, Mangarevan maramara ‘firewood’ < *mara (cf. the name of the moon goddess known as Hina Hau Mara); Rapanui taheta ‘spring’ < tahe ‘to stream; to flow’). In the manuscript E (Barthel 1978: 324, 326) two similar sentences are written down, and they differ from one another by Old Rapanui nihoniho and nihoni only. T. Barthel (1978: 90) translates these words as ‘indented (?)’, cf. Rapanui niho ‘tooth’.

In my opinion, this record correlates with the place name Puna rere hiva. The variant of the name of the rain deity is known as Hiva Kara Rere (Felbermayer 1963). In this place name one can distinguish the term puna (spring) and the words rere hiva (a part of the deity’s name). It is highly plausible that the rain was a source of the water for this spring. The place name Ahu Nga Rauhiva a Kara is known (Englert 1974: 267). It may be read as follows: Ahu Ngarau Hiva a kara, so it is a hint of the rain deity.

8. Several parallel texts are presented in figures 9 and 10.


Figure 9.

A segment of the tablet Mamari (Cb 2/3) is presented in fragment 1. It reads as follows: 4-6 45-46-45 11 19 4 19 59-33 12 4-6 44-15 44-15 44-15 44 6-4 81 72-126 72-126 [a segment is damaged] 6-4-4 27 52 61 12 A atua Punapu Mango ki atua, ki kaua ika, a atua Taha roa, Taha roa, Taha roa TAHA, a atua MANU Manu kura, Manu kura [a segment is damaged], a atuaatua Rau-Hiti Hina ika ‘The deity ‘Puna [‘The Sping’] (where) ‘The Shark’ [Nuku-te-Mango] (is attached) to the deity, to the group of people of the hill’, the deity ‘Taha roa [‘The great Frigate Bird’] FRIGATE BIRD’, the deity ‘BIRD The Red Bird [Manu Mea] [a segment is damaged]’, the god ‘Hitirau [=‘The red stone’] near the hill of the Moon [Tararaina]’.’

Here the hill Puna Pau where the Easter Islanders manufactured “hats” pukao from the red stone (hitirau) for the statues is mentioned. In compliance with a Rapanui myth (Métraux 1940: 260-261), the spirits Nuku-te-Mango, Hitirau and Hauriuri lived at this place. I translate the name of this hill as ‘The old spring’ (cf. Rapanui pau ‘tired; shabby; ragged’). The name Nuku-te-Mango means ‘The army of the Shark’ (Rjabchikov 1996b: 39). A man called ‘The Shark’ was a legendary king. Moreover, this name could be connected with the cult of the god Tangaroa. The name Hitirau signifies ‘The red stone’, and the name Hauriuri means ‘The Black Man’ (Fedorova 1978: 355).(4) Rapanui kaua ‘ancestor; forefather’ is comparable with Maori kau ‘multitude; company; ancestor’, kauati ‘chief; principal person’, Tuamotuan tuukau ‘predominant chief’, tapakau ‘supreme ruler’, Samoan tapa’au ‘high chief’, cf. also Proto-Polynesian *kau ‘group of people, company’ and *kau ‘to take part, to join’ (Biggs and Clark 2006). In my opinion, both reconstructed forms could originate from Proto-Polynesian *kau ‘to swim’ (Biggs and Clark 2006), it was a hint of early navigators. In this context I reconstruct Old Rapanui kau(a) ‘group of people, company; army; ancestor’. The name of the Rano Kau volcano means ‘The volcano of the group of people = a ritual place’ literally in this case.

Old Rapanui ika ‘hill; heap’ is comparable with Maori ika whenua ‘main range of hills’ and ika ‘to lie in a heap; heap’. Undoubtedly, these forms imply the fishing-up of islands by demigod Maui in the Maori beliefs (Buck 1938: 275). Since this personage is known in the Easter Island folklore (Barthel 1974), some terms associated with him are available in the Old Rapanui language. I also take into consideration Rapanui ika potu ‘end of a voyage; destination’, ika ‘fish’ and potu ‘end’.

It is possible that in this inscription a plan of producing of “hats” pukao for statues of the ceremonial platforms Ahu Taha roa and Ahu Manu mea is encoded. N.A. Butinov (1984: 109) distinguishes Old Rapanui taha ‘frigate bird’ in the place name Hanga taharoa. I translate the expression Taha roa as ‘The Big Frigate Bird’. Thus, the name of Ahu Taha roa signifies ‘The ceremonial platform ‘The Big Frigate Bird’’. The place name Ahu Manu mea means ‘The ceremonial platform ‘The Red Bird’’. The name of the Rapanui ghost Manu mea is well known (Métraux 1940: 318), cf. also Maori manu mea ‘sacred bird (presented in incantations and ancient songs)’.

The hill Tararaina is located not far from the hill Puna Pau. I read this name as Tara raa hina ‘The eclipsed sun – the moon’, cf. Rarotongan tara ‘the two points or horns of the new moon’. According to W. Liller (1993: 124), the summit of this hill was within a few tenths of a degree of the direction of the setting equinoctial sun.

It can be said with confidence that this modern observation is a repetition of ancient ones. A segment of the Great Santiago tablet (Hv 12) is presented in fragment 2. It reads as follows: 6-4-4-24 45-46 4 (or 5, or 35) 69 51 61 52 25 5 49 12 44 14 6 5-15 6 76 14 5 74 27 29 6-15 15 56 17 A atuaatua ai Puna atua (?) (pau?). Moko, ke. Hina. Hiti-Hua. Ati Mau(nga) ika ta hau. A atua roa, a vie Haua, atua Tinirau rua. Hora roa po, tea ‘The deity/place Puna Pau (?) [‘The Old Spring’]. (The sun) is setting. (The place) Hina [Tara raa hina]. (The deity) Hitirau. It is the felling of the mountain (consisting) of “hats” (for statues). The great goddess and the woman Haua [almost the full moon] (and) the god Tinirau are disappearing (setting). It is the month Hora-nui [September/October], (and the length of) a night (is equal to the length of) a day.’ So, the sunset on the day of vernal equinox (for example, in 1638) is described. Here the Polynesian god Tinirau plays a role of the sun (cf. Rapanui ki te tini te raa ‘zenith’). Such records were didactic texts in some instances.

The following words are significant: cf. Rapanui momoko ‘to hide oneself’, keke ‘to set (of the sun)’, and tea ‘white’. The name of the ghost Hitirau (Hiti Rau) is written as Hiti Hua (cf. Rapanui hiti ‘to rise; to appear’, Hawaiian hua ‘swelling, growing, and maturity of vegetables’, Maori mahua ‘lifted’ and Samoan malaulau ‘to grow vigorously‘).

The ceremonial platform Ahu Huri a Urenga is located not far from the hill Puna Pau. I translate this place name as ‘The ceremonial platform ‘Darkness – Generation’’. It may be associated with the ghost Hauriuri. Perhaps, this place and its environs were an ancient religious centre where natives observed the sun during eclipses.

A segment of the tablet Tahua (Ab 4 = Av 4) is presented in fragment 3. It reads as follows: 19 6 46 4-32 8 45-46-45 62-4 12 33 4-32 7 50 62-21 Kuhana: atua ua Matua Punapu toti ika ua, atua ua tuu Hi Toko ‘The spirits (are here): the deity/dwelling ‘The father-the spring [= Puna Pau] that is attached to the hill/dwelling’, the deity/dwelling ‘The Dawn (and) the Paddle come’.’

Old Rapanui kuhana ‘spirit’ is comparable with Rapanui kuhane and kuhanga ‘spirit’. Old Rapanui hi means ‘dawn; solar rays’. The term toko is the designation of a ceremonial paddle (ao, rapa) in the rongorongo records (Rjabchikov 1998-1999: figure 3). I also take into account Maori toko ‘sacred pole or stick set up in honour of a deity’.

The obtained data attest that two ghosts, ‘The Dawn’ and ‘The Paddle’, were connected with the place Puna Pau. In accordance with the manuscript E (Barthel 1978: 264), Te Amira and Te Ao were guardian spirits at the place Puna a Pau, they went by a way of Varivari and Takotako. The first name reads Te (H)amu raa ‘The Dawn’, cf. Rapanui hamu ‘to dawn’. The second name means ‘The Paddle’. So, the same pair of the deities is mentioned in the folklore text. They are the personifications of Light and Darkness in fact. I suppose that the name of the spirit Hi is preserved in the place name Tuu arihi. It reads Tuu Ari Hi ‘The clear (sun) comes after the dawn’ correctly. Old Rapanui ari ‘clear’ is comparable with Tahitian ariari ‘clear’.

The place name Uo titeve is known. Here Titeve is the name of a ghost (Métraux 1940: 370). It can be compared with the name of the deity Tive (the alternation of the sounds e/i is possible). On the other hand, Rapanui titeve and titeve taratara are fish names (Randall and Cea Egaña 1984: 13). In this case, the god Titeve was connected with the ocean and sea creatures. I compare the form uo with Old Rapanui ua ‘dwelling’. The last form is written down in the rongorongo texts containing place names and names of deities. According to the “Creation Chant” (Métraux 1940: 322), the personages Takoua and Tukouo produced the fish poopoo. Besides, the place name Uo takotako is known. I compare the forms ua and uo with Old Rapanui ua ‘dwelling’. On this basis the report reads as follows: the place Tako (a place for the initiation) and the place Tuko (Tiko?) produced the fish poopoo. I take into account Maori tako ‘common house for the tribe, especially for young men’. The first place is the village Orongo where the rite of initiation was conducted. In E. Best’s opinion, the village of Orongo (O-Rongo) was named for Rongo, the deity of fertility (Best 1924: 139). The place Tuko (Tiko) is related to the statue Hoa-hakananaia from this village (now it is housed in the British Museum, London, U.K.). Hence, in the Easter Island beliefs, the religious activities of the priests of this village were aimed at increasing fertility in different forms. Interestingly, the names Varivari and Tuko (Tiko) bear on this statue decorated with petroglyphs (glyphs) 1 tiko (cf. the name of the god-creator Tiki), cf. also Rapanui vari and tiko ‘menstruation’. Interestingy, the place Te Vare is located on a slope of the Rano Kau volcano (Knorozov 1963: 146). The name of Te Vare reads Te Vari because of the alternation of the sounds e/i, therefore Varivari and Te Vare (cf. Rapanui kovare ‘placenta’ < *ko vare/vari) are relevant to one and the same place.

Let us examine two parallel texts taken down on the London tablet (Kr 3/4) and on the Small Santiago tablet (Gr 2/3), see fragments 4 and 5:

1) 44-5-44-5 49 12 44 14 5-15 76 2 (= a reversed variant) 8 45-46 44 62-4 19 12 33 6 [a segment is damaged] 44-21 Ta-ati-ta-ati Mau(nga) ika ta hau. Atua roa, vie Hina uri. Matua Puna; Taha toti ki ika ua; a [atua] [a segment is damaged] Tako ‘It is the felling of the mountain [Puna Pau] (consisting) of “hats” (for statues). The great goddess (and) the woman (called) ‘The black Moon’. ‘The father-the spring’ [= Puna Pau]; this is the Frigate Bird attached to the hill/dwelling; the deity Tako [‘The house for initiation’].’

The Frigate Bird is one of the personifications of Light. In the Tahitian language ta- is the causative prefix.

2) 44-5-44-5 49 12 44 14 5-15 76 2 (= a reversed variant) 8 45-46-45 44 62-4 19 12 33 6-4-24 44-21 6 44 Ta-ati-ta-ati Mau(nga) ika ta hau. Atua roa, vie Hina uri. Matua Punapu; Taha toti ki ika ua; a atua ai Tako a Taha ‘It is the felling of the mountain [Puna Pau] (consisting) of “hats” (for statues). The great goddess (and) the woman (called) ‘The black Moon’. ‘The father-the spring’ [= Puna Pau]; this is the Frigate Bird attached to the hill/dwelling; the deity Tako [‘The house for initiation’] – the Frigate Bird.’


Figure 10.

The name of the god Tako is also presented in texts on the Small Vienna tablet (Na 4) and on the tablet Keiti (Ev 2), see figure 10, fragments 1 and 2. They read as follows:

1) 6-4-32 44-21 15 44-21 15 A atua ua Tako roa, Tako roa ‘The deity/dwelling ‘The great Tako, the great Tako’.’

2) 6-4 44-21 15 44-21 A atua Tako roa, Tako ‘The deity ‘The great Tako, Tako’.’

The tablet Keiti contains the report about the place name Puna Pau on the same line (Ev 3), see fragment 3. It reads as follows: 6-4 8 45-46-45-46 62-4 44b 12 33 A atua Matua Punapuna; toti Tua ika ua ‘The deity ‘The father-the spring’ [= Puna Pau]; this is ‘The Turned (character)’ attached to the hill/dwelling’.’

The ghost Tua is one of the personifications of Darkness. This demon is known by the names of Kava Tua and Kavakava a Tua in the Rapanui folklore records (Englert 1974: 137; Heyerdahl 1976: 117; Métraux 1940: 366).

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