Rapanui Proper and Place Names versus Rongorongo Texts

© Sergei V. Rjabchikov

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Part 5.

12. Let us consider a text (Aa 7 = Ar 7) inscribed on the tablet Tahua, see figure 14. It is well to bear in mind that this tablet was manufactured during the reign of the king Kai Makoi (I).


Figure 14.

The text reads as follows: 4-26-21 6-4 5 4-17 15-4-15-4 15 5 4-17 4 24 26 9 6 9 5 4-17 24 14 11 (Atu mokoa.) Hotu atua Hetuke roturotu roa atua Hetuke, atua, ari(k)i Ma+Niu [= Makoi] THE MAN Niu [= Makoi] atua Hetuke, ari(k)i, hau paka ‘(A hidden mark.) The lord Hetuke produced the great offering of the lord Hetuke, the lord (and) the king Kai Makoi (I), (son) of the lord Hetuke (as well as priests) ariki paka.’

In this text glyph 6 ha (THE MAN) representing a man is a generic determinative.

Old Rapanui hotu ‘to bear a fruit’ corresponds to Tahitian hotu ‘to bear a fruit’. Old Rapanui rotu ‘offering’ is comparable with Rapanui rotu ‘to bring; to gather’. Here the great offering is the former prince (who became the king) Kai Makoi (I). The name of his father, the king Hetuke, reads Atute, cf. Rapanui hatuke, hetuke ‘sea-urchin’. The alternations of the sounds h/-, a/e are possible. In the Maori language the alternation of the sounds k/t is possible; cf. also Rapanui akuaku ‘ghost’ and atua ‘deity’. So, the form atute corresponds to the forms hatuke and hetuke. Old Rapanui hau ‘to own; king’ is comparable with Rapanui hauhau ‘ownership’ and Tahitian hau ‘king’. Rapanui ariki ‘king’ reads arii because of the alternation of the sounds k/-. From this record it follows that the priests ariki paka (ariki, hau paka) were children of the king. The date of the birth of the king Hetuke is ca. 1715.

The name of the king Te Hetuke is registered in a list of Rapanui kings written down by A. Métraux (1940: 90-91, table 2).

13. One can investigate a damaged record of the Great Washington tablet (Sb 6), see figure 15.


Figure 15.

This text has been investigated earlier partially (Rjabchikov 2008a: figure 1). It reads as follows: 6-35 24 31 6 49 28 6-39 54 49 77 56 39-39 3 6 … (H)apai Maki, a (ariki) mau Nga Ara Kai (ariki) mau Hetuke po raaraa, hina ha ‘The god Makemake (and) the king Nga Ara, (son of) the king Kai Makoi (I), (son of) [the king] Hetuke lifted themselves; (it was) the 4th day [= Ari]…’

This record tells of the king Nga Ara who appeared on a ceremonial platform to worship the sun deity Makemake (Tane, Tiki) during the sunrise on the 4th day (Ari) of the lunar month when a solar eclipse was impossible.

I have read glyph 77 as ‘mollusc’ earlier, cf. Rapanui atuke ‘mollusc kind’.

14. Let us examine the first line (I 1) of the Santiago staff. As has been shown earlier (Rjabchikov 2008a: figure 1), the name of the king Nga Ara is written down here. This text is presented in figure 16.


Figure 16.

It reads as follows: 44 4 (a vertical line) 56 (102) 4 (102) 44 (123) 12 (123) 44 46 75 65 56 (102) 9 6 17-17 18-5 49 61 73 56 (102) 2 44 17 44 (102) 30 6 12 (102) 6 (123) 6 6 58 30-30 13 30 30 30 18-4 (102) 138 56 (102) 30 4 6-40 13 68 (102) 110 6-6 56 (102) 62-29 (123) (a vertical line) 44 (102) 62 1 62 61 (102) 75 11-11 22 (102) 4 49 59-33 (102) 28 6-39-6-39 (102) 61 39 6 (102-123) 56 44 (102) 44 (123) 4 (102) 4 56 (102) 19 (102) 56 (123-123 102) 4 44 65 (102) 21-17 (a vertical line) 68 6-6 6-21 44 4-6-4-6 (123) 61 (102) 75 56-19 (102) 15 29 (102) 4 19 47 (102) 4 (102) 68 28 44 33 (123 102) 4-50 61 44 (102) 44 56 68 (102) 19 69 44 (102) 6-56 12 (102-123) 12 (102) 6-40 41 13 (102) 6 47 (a vertical line) 59-33 (102) 30 6 14 Taha atua, Patu. Taha ika, taha naa, ko Rangi po, Niu (= Makoi) THE MAN teatea te atua, (ariki) mau. Hina he po, hina Taha te Tane, a ika, Ho(a), Ho(a), Ho(a) tahi, anaana, koreha, ana, ana, ana, te atua a kava, po nati, Hare Koreha Honui, Vie Haha. Po toru taha. Too Tiki, too Hina ko pakupaku. Ao atua, (ariki) mau, kaua Nga Araara, hina raa ha, po tata atuaatua, paku, po Atua, Taha Rangi Kotea. Honu, Haha. Hakataha tuhatuha hina paku roa. Rutu: Ku ava atu honu, nga, taha ua. Tui Hina Tahataha [= Tane] po, ono ki Moko. Taha api, ikaika. Hare here koreha a ava(nga). Kau ana a hau. ‘(It is) the god ‘The Frigate Bird’, (it is the god) Patu (= the god of the revival). The death goes, the disappearance goes; (it is) the sky during the night, (and it is) the proud (or grey-haired?) [Kai] Mokoi (who is) the lord (and) the king. (It is) a night, (it is) the night ‘The Frigate Bird – Tane’, (and the king) is dead. The great (god) Hoa is first; (it is) abundance; (it is) the corpse; (it is) abundance; (it is) the deity ‘The Ribs’ [moai kavakava] on the night connected (with him). (It is) the House of the great corpse. (It is) a woman from the country of the dead. The third night goes. (The god) Tiki takes, (the goddess) Hina takes the corpse. Nga Araara (= Nga Ara) who is the lord, the king (and) the progenitor has authority. It is the fourth day. (It is) the night of the decomposed corpse of the (great) lord, of the corpse on the night Atua. (It is the ceremonial platform) ‘The Frigate Bird – the white sky’ = Tahai (< Taha hi ‘The Frigate Bird – the solar rays, whiteness’). It is the country of the dead. It is the end of the time of the great corpse. A chant was recited: ‘The water is pouring, it is raining. The night ‘The Frigate Bird’ [Tane] disappears, the count is to the night Hiro. The disappearance (of the sun and) the death go’. (It is) the House of the connection of a corpse with the full moon (grave). (It is the ghost) ‘The shining progenitor – the king’ [= the ghost Ka(h)u maa hau at Tahai = the personification of the dead kings].’

In this text glyph 6 ha (THE MAN) representing a man is a generic determinative.

R. Green (1985: 15) reconstructs the name of the 27th night of the Old Rapanui lunar calendar as Tane. In the calendar on the tablet Mamari this moon (night) is written down as glyph 44 Taha ‘The Frigate Bird’ (Rjabchikov 1989: 124).

Old Rapanui tata ‘decomposed corpse’ corresponds to Rapanui tatanga ‘decomposed corpse’; Old Rapanui paku ‘corpse’ corresponds to Rapanui papaku ‘corpse’. Old Rapanui ana signifies ‘abundance; to have enough or too much’, cf. Hawaiian ana ‘to have enough or too much’ (Rjabchikov 2001a: 215).

In my opinion, the Rapanui wooden moai-kavakava ‘figurines of ribs’ represent dead kings. Such specimens were important objects in magical rites. N.A. Butinov and L.G. Rozina (1956: 321) believe that the figurines have some features of the corpse. Let us examine signs engraved on the head of the moai-kavakava from the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkammer), St. Petersburg, Russia (No 3701-1) (Butinov and Rozina 1956: 308-310, 312, figure 2). Here glyph 3 (or 61) hina is shown below two signs representing the birds. I believe that it is the name of the legendary king Hina Riru.

In the decoded text the death of the king Kai Makoi (I) is described. The date of his birth is ca. 1740, and the date of his death is ca. 1815. The Rapanui chiefs inscribed the full name of this king on the Spanish Treaty in 1770: 17-51 54 26 59 10 16 Teke Kai Makoi Kahi ‘(It is) the king Kai Makoi, (an descendant) of the Tuna Fish (= the god Tangatoa)’ (Rjabchikov 1998a).(5) This segment is shown in figure 17.


Figure 17.

The date of the birth of the king Nga Ara, a son of the king Kai Makoi (I), is ca. 1775. It is well known that he died before the raid of Peruvian slavers in 1862 (Métraux 1940: 91).

In the text on the Santiago staff the king Kai Makoi (I) is compared with the sun, and his death is described as a night when different chthonic deities appear. Interestingly, the god Tangaroa, the mythological founder of the king’s dynasty, was located at a place where is the dark sky (Métraux 1937: 47). The corpse of the dead ruler was placed on the ceremonial platform Ahu Tahai at a special plot called ‘The house of the great corpse’. The term koreha ‘eel’ means ‘corpse’ in this context, cf. Rapanui timo rara koreha ‘man who dries a corpse’, pera ‘corpse remained on a ceremonial platform’ (< *pe raa ‘and the sun’), rara ‘to dry’ (< raaraa ‘the (bright) sun’), Maori rara ‘rib’, Rapanui kore ‘not; without’. This special plot is called ‘The house of the connection of a corpse with a grave (the full moon)’ as well. Rapanui avanga ‘grave’ and Old Rapanui ava ‘the full moon’ (Rapanui avae ‘the full moon’ < *avai < *ava i) in this context are relevant to ancient beliefs: the seeing at the full moon was prohibited (cf. Felbermayer 1973). In the Atan manuscript glyph 140 and the text he avanga written down in Roman letters are presented (see Heyerdahl and Ferdon 1965: figure 112 [7]). This glyph denotes the full moon. The names of the deities Tiki and Hina are mentioned instead of their epithets, Makemake and Haua, in the special formula of fertility.

One can offer Old Rapanui ngo/nga ‘water’ (cf. Maori maku, makengo ‘wet’ < *maku/make ngo; nganga ‘sleet; hail’ < *nga/ngo; ngongi ‘water’ < *ngo ngi; Rapanui angapo ‘last night’ < *a nga po ‘water – night’; ngooonea ‘dirty’ < *ngo ‘water’, oone ‘soil’; ingoingo ‘dirty; to become dirty’ < *i ngo i ngo; angoango ‘hunger’ < *a nga a nga ‘water’; cf. also Madurese aeng ‘water’).

The incantation was composed on the base of several standard words. I pick out the following segments in the manuscript E (see Barthel 1978: 348): He hu te tokerau … He hoa te ua … I hu te tokerau … I ava era te ua …On the other hand, I pick out the similar segments in a text about rain that is included in the Atan manuscript (see Heyerdahl and Ferdon 1965: figure 131): He hoa te ua kura … Ku ava a te ua, ku tarai a te ua … Ku keukeu a te tokerau. He hoa te ua …It is likely that both folklore texts go back to an archaic one about rain.

Two incantations dedicated to rain are preserved in a legend concerning the god Hiva Kara Rere (Felbermayer 1963):

1) Tare, e Tive, nga poki a Tiki, hakapiri te tokerau o te papakina raua ko Poike. Ka hakapiri puhi Orongo ki Tongariki. E Hiva Kara Rere, ka hakamau mai te rangi ua!

2) Tiki, ka api tou aringa! E Tare, e Tive, ka mau mai te rangi! Hiva Kara Rere, ka topa, ka topa ua!

In a record of the Great Washington tablet (Sb 4) the parallel text is preserved, see figure 18.


Figure 18.

It reads as follows: 57 50 19-33-19-33 17 7 57 6 6 46-6 33 13 4 13 50 4 6-56 6 32 68 49 6-56 32 68 49 Tarai ki ua, ki ua, tee. Tuu Hina Tarahao a noho, ua, Kore atua, Kore hitu. Api, a ua, honu mau. Api, ua, honu mau. ‘(It is) a heavy shower, (and the water) pours. (The month) Tarahao (Tarahau, Tarahai) comes, (it) settles (and) lives; (it is the night) of the deity Kokore, (it is) the 7th night of Kokore [= Maharu]. It is the disappearance (of the sun), (it is) the rain which is driven. It is the disappearance (of the sun), (it is) the rain which is driven.’

In this record Old Rapanui tee ‘to flow; to pour; pouring’ corresponds to Rapanui tehe ‘to flow; to pour’. In the Rapanui calendar from the Atan manuscript (see Heyerdahl and Ferdon 1965: figure 128) several groups of the nights of the moon’s age are written down in a random manner. A group consisting of the names – He tahi Kokore, he rua Kokore, he toru Kokore, he ha Kokore, he rima Kokore, he ono Kokore, he hitu Kokore, he vau te Ohua – corresponds to the following names in standard lists: Kokore tahi, Kokore rua, Kokore toru, Kokore ha, Kokore rima, Kokore ono, Maharu, Hua (Ohua) (cf. Rapanui hitu ‘seven’, vau < varu ‘eight’). From this it is inferred that the Great Washington tablet was manufactured in the late period of the development of the Old Rapanui state.

In compliance with the local beliefs, the spirits Kahu-ma-hau, Mokomoko puapua ‘The beating lizard’ and Moko piki ‘The climbing lizard’ lived at Tahai (Métraux 1940: 318). The first name can be read as Ka(h)u/kaua maa hau ‘The shining progenitor – the king’, it is the designation of dead kings. I think that the both lizards were the guardian spirits and the incarnations of the god Hiro.

The variant of the name Nga Ara as Nga Araara is also known. The name of the king Nga-araara erua was registered (Routledge 1914-1915). I believe that in this form a version of the name of the king Nga Ara was taken down. It was a special king’s title in his last years. The Rapanui expression Nga Araara e rua signifies ‘(The king) Nga Araara (= Nga Ara) who is old’. Here Old Rapanui rua means ‘old’, cf. Hawaiian lua ‘to be old as garments’, Rapanui ruau ‘old (about a woman)’, Maori ruahine ‘old woman’.

A vertical line in the record is an invention of the king Nga Ara. He used the marker of the counting (it was discovered on several rock drawings) to show the boundaries of some words. This sign was a substitute for the expression 4-26-21 atu mokoa ‘hidden mark’ presented on the tablet Tahua.

A tattooing design of an Easter Islander drawn by natives is known (see Routledge 1998: 219, figure 88), see figures 19 and 20 (a detail).


Figure 19.


Figure 20.

In my opinion, this design covered the body of the king Nga Ara. Almost all the signs are symmetric about a vertical line that may be passed through the head.

On the neck of this man one can distinguish glyph 28 nga and four signs representing a way (ara). Thus, these signs read Nga Araara (the king’s name). Glyph 34 raa is represented on the chin, and the two glyph 39 raa are attached to the mouth. Perhaps, they are phonetic elements of the king’s name. On the nose of this man is glyph 1 Tiki; and a marker of the counting (a vertical line) is attached to it. The first sign is united with glyph 30 ana, cf. Rapanui anaana ‘to shine; shine’.


Figure 21.

Interestingly, the Rapanui chiefs inscribed the combination of glyphs 1 30 Tiki ana ‘(The sun deity) Tiki is shining’ on the Spanish Treaty in 1770 (Rjabchikov 1998a), see figure 21, fragment 1. This religious formula is repeated in different records. A text (Aa 6 = Ar 6) of the Tahua tablet contains the following words, see fragment 2: 37 6 1 6 30 5 nui (h)a Tiki, (h)a Ana atua ‘The increase of Tiki (= the heat), of the deity Ana (Shine)’ (Rjabchikov 2006a: figure 1). A parallel text is presented on the tablet Aruku-Kurenga (Bv 3), see fragment 3: 30-30 24 52 1 Anaana ai. Hiti Tiki ‘(It is) a place of the shine. (The sun deity) Tiki is rising.’

On the forehead of the man are the 12 glyphs 39 raa; a marker of the counting (a vertical line) is attached to each glyph. It is the designation of 12 months (a year). Hence, the head of the king was compared with the sun. On the arms of this person are glyphs 56 39 56 39 56 39 56 po raa, po raa, po raa, po ‘the 4th night (Ari)’. It is a decorative record of Rapanui ariki ‘king’ that can read arii because of the alternation of the sounds k/-. The signs represented on the stomach and breast reads as follows: ‘Mountain’ 22 9 27 (Ariki) mau, ao Niu (= Makoi) rau ‘The ruling king Kai Makoi (I) produced’. The king Nga Ara stressed that he belonged to the dynasty of the Rapanui kings. The wordplay is quite possible, cf. Rapanui maunga ‘mountain’ and (ariki) mau ‘king’. According to G. Forster (1972) who visited Easter Island in 1774, a chief stood on a hill, and in this position he met foreigners. By the way, the chief’s name was ko Tohitai. It can be read ko to(h)i Kai ‘the king Kai Makoi (I)’ (the alternation of the sounds k/t is possible). Old Rapanui to(h)i ‘summit; peak’ corresponds to Maori toi ‘summit; peak’. The Rapanui term rau ‘to produce; to multiply’ is preserved in the Rapanui chant celebrated the king’s beneficent influence upon nature (Thomson 1891: 523-524; Métraux 1937: 52-54).

A simplified variant of this tattooing design is also known (see Ayres and Ayres 1995: 192, plate 51). Some elements remain or are modified, but the name of the king Nga Ara is absent here. Glyph 1 Tiki (the sun deity) representing the vulva is incised on a skull from Easter Ialand (Heyerdahl 1976: plate 138c). I believe that it is a special sign that denotes the king’s power. On the other hand, a vulva design was tattooed on the forehead of a Marquesan native of Keatoniu’s feasting society (Gell 1993: 208, 326, figure 4.11). It is possible that it was a mark of the great supernatural power (mana). The head of the king (ariki) had this power (see Petrukhin and Polinskaya 1994: 173). Interestingly, the strange words coray [ko rai] ‘head [the head of a Spaniard]’ and geray [he rai] ‘sea [the look at a Spanish ship]’ are registered during Felipe González’ expedition (Mellén 1986: 113). In both cases Rapanui rai ‘the sun’ is taken down indeed. I suppose that the natives believed that the foreigners were gods and chiefs associated with the sun cult (they visited the island on days of the increasing heat in the end of November).

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