Rapanui Proper and Place Names versus Rongorongo Texts

© Sergei V. Rjabchikov

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Part 6.

15. A text of the Santiago staff (I 2) is presented in figure 22.


Figure 22.

It reads as follows: 22 44 68 33 (102) 110 6 6 (102) 6 18-4 56 (102) 48 44b 6 (102) 7 25 Ao (rapa), Taha, Honu/Vai, (Ko)mari ko Ho(a), Ho(a), Ho(a), te atua Pua hua, tua Hatu hua. ‘(The words) ‘the paddle’, ‘the frigate bird’, ‘the water’, ‘the vulva’ (are inscribed on the back side of the statue of) the great Hoa (‘The Owner, the friend’ = the statue Hoa-hakananaia; the deity Rarai-a-Hoa or Rarai-a-Hova). (He) is the god ‘The Top’ giving fruits. It is the back of (the god) Tiki-te-Hatu giving fruits.’

The trice-repeated Rapanui name Ho(a) means ‘the great Hoa’. The name of a ceremonial platform, Ahu Ature Hoa, is known as Ahu Ature Ho, too (Barthel 1978: 218). Hence, we can read glyph 6 ha as ho because of the alternation of the sounds a/o, and then we read the syllable ho as the word hoa.

This example reflects a rule that in some Old Rapanui words the last vowel sound a can be omitted. One can suggest the name of the Rapanui witch Nuahine Pike Uri ‘The Old Woman ‘The Black Crab’’ (Felbermayer 1965) where the word pike can be compared with the standard Rapanui word pikea ‘crab’. In the manuscript E (Barthel 1978: 322) the place name Vai tara kai ua is written down as Vai tara kai u. The following pairs of words are also available: cf. Rapanui tapua and tapu ‘sacred’; hea and he ‘where’, ngatua ‘to plant’ and ngatu ‘to plant seedlings’; puapua ‘top, summit’ (< pua) and Hawaiian puu ‘peak’.

In the light of these data let us consider the names of the ghosts Kuihi, Kuaha, Tongau and Opakako (Routledge 1998: 280). They can be read as Ku ihi ‘(The god who) has broken’, Ku (h)aha ‘(The god who) has looked’, Tonga, u(a) ‘The rain season’ and O paka, (A) Ko(a) ‘The dry season – the Gladness, Satisfaction (the rain goddess who appears at this time)’. Here personified forms of Darkness and Light are presented in two pairs of deities.

The words of a Rapanui chant are well known (Métraux 1940: 352; Barthel 1962b: 845; Englert 1974: 229): E Pua. e Pua te oheohe, e Pua te nanaia. This text can be translated as follows: ‘(It is) the Top (the sun; the statue Hoa-hakananaia), (it is) the Top, (it is) a paddle (associated with it), the Top (who) moves quickly (the symbolism of birds).’

The name of the statue Hoa-hakananaia signifies ‘The Owner or the Friend (= the sun god) who moves quickly’, the name of the related deity Rarai-a-Hoa signifies ‘The Sun – the Owner/Friend’, cf. Rapanui hoa ‘owner; friend’, hova ‘friend’, nanaia ‘to go past quickly’, raa, rai ‘the sun’. Old Rapanui Pua is comparable with Maori pu ‘ruler, king’ and Rarotongan pu ‘ruler, lord’ as well. Old Rapanui ohe(a) ‘paddle’ (cf. Rapanui hoe ‘paddle’) is presented in a version of the Rapanui chant “He timo te akoako”, cf. also Mangarevan ohe ‘paddle’ (Rjabchikov 2008b).

The deity Pua corresponds to the deity Kane-apua [Tane-a-pua] in Hawaiian beliefs. According to the Hawaiian mythology, the latter god brings rain and abundance to crops. As a fish god, he was represented as a carved stone worshipped by fishermen. Besides, this personage brought the first coconut to Hawaii (Beckwith 1970: 207, 432, 452, 496). Interestingly, in the “Creation Chant” (Métraux 1940: 321) there is a report: the god Atua Metua [Matua] ‘The god Father’ and the Eel (Riri-Tuna-Rai) produced the coconut. If the first character is the god-creator Tane (Tiki) in fact, we shall receive an important parallel between Hawaiian and Rapanui religious systems.

16. A text (I 2) of the Santiago staff is presented in figure 23.


Figure 23.

It reads as follows: 6-33 21 56 (102) 18-4 1 73 (102) 28 44 Haua oko, po, te atua Tiki Henga, Taha ‘(This is the goddess) Haua [Hina Hau Mara] who is ripe, it is the night; (this is) the god Tiki who is the Dawn [Hena Naku] and the Frigate Bird.’

In conformity with a Rapanui myth, the god of feathers by the name of Hena Naku and the goddess by the name of Hina Hau Mara once arrived at Easter Island. The god was incarnated in a big bird with a human face, and the goddess was incarnated in a big fish, later in a beautiful woman, and later in a beautiful fish (Felbermayer 1960). Here the name of the goddess is written down using two syllables (ha-u) (cf. also glyph 14 hau). It is clear that both sources inform us about the moon goddess and the sun god.

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