Rapanui Proper and Place Names versus Rongorongo Texts

© Sergei V. Rjabchikov

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Part 7.

17. The exact positions of a number of place names are unknown. Consider two examples.

The place Te ngao o te honu was the fourth residence of Hotu Matua. It is also known that this place was located near places Papa Marama and Pei (Barthel 1978: 216, 263). The first name means ‘The rock ‘The crescent’’, and the second name denotes fish.

We must realise a distinguishing feature of this king to find this locality. The character Hotu Matua is the personification of the sun in actuality (Rjabchikov 1995a: 71-72; 1995b: 25; 1996b: 5). The place name means ‘The sign of the Turtle’. A petroglyph [ngao] of the turtle [honu] is at Papa Mahina inland from Ahu Raai (see Lee 1992: 84, figure 4.66). The first place name signifies ‘The rock ‘The Moon’’, and the second place name signifies ‘The ceremonial platform ‘The sun’’. It is pertinent to note that this ceremonial platform is situated not far from the bay called Hanga Hoonu ‘The bay ‘The turtle’’. On the basis of present knowledge, I identify the place Te ngao o te honu with the place Papa Mahina.

The place Koreha a viriviri ngao was situated on the path of the people of the king Hotu Matua from the ceremonial platform Ahu Akahanga to the volcano Rano Kau; it was not far from this volcano (Barthel 1978: 219). I translate the name Koreha a viriviri ngao as ‘The Eel – the peak – the sign’, cf. Mangarevan gao ‘sign; mark’. It may be inferred that the Eel was represented on this place. In this event it is a drawing at a panel of Hanga Piko (see Lee 1992: 121, figure 4.125; the interpretation of this plot is offered by this author: see Rjabchikov 1995c: 2). Here the Eel and the Palm are shown. On the basis of present knowledge, I identify the place Koreha a viriviri ngao with the place Hanga Piko.

18. Let us examine three texts of the Honolulu tablet B.3629 (T) and one text of the Santiago staff, see figure 24.


Figure 24.

The first text (T 2/3) is presented in fragment 1. It reads as follows: 25 15-25 73 4-28 33 6 (102) 84 24 4-28 (102) [a segment is damaged] [a segment is damaged] 6-28 11 51 21 44 (102) 6 4-33 13 (102) 1 6-4 4-33 (102) 6 39 (102) 4 (102) 58 12 58 [a segment is damaged] Hua rau e Tun(g)a VAI a ivi, ai Tu(g)na … Hanga Manga Kea kota a atua/ua Koreha [Tuna] Tiki. Ootu atua/ua (Ure) Ara atua tahi ika, tahi … ‘(It is) a fruit produced by the Eel THE WATER, of the ancestor; (it is) a place of the Eel … (It is) The Bay of the food, (it is) the Crab [Piko]. (The fishermen) bring (the catch) from the deity/place ‘The Eel – (the sun god) Tiki’. The lord (Ure) Ara [= the king Nga Ara] takes the first fish, the first … (?).’

This message tells of a panel at the bay Hanga Piko where the motif of the eel is depicted (see above). The myth about the Eel Tuna is mentioned in the record (cf. Métraux 1940: 321). Then this bay, a centre of fishery, is described (Routledge 1998: 224; Métraux 1940: 383; Felbermayer 1948: 39-41). Old Rapanui manga ‘food; to eat’ is comparable with Rapanui manga nuinui ‘to gobble’.

Old Rapanui tun(g)a means ‘eel’, cf. Maori tuna ‘eel’. Here glyph 33 vai (THE WATER) is a generic determinative to read the combination of glyphs 4-28 as tu(n)ga and to exclude a variant, tinga(e) ‘to kill’. Old Rapanui kea ‘crab’ corresponds to Rapanui pikea ‘crab’. The name of the bay Hanga Piko contains Rapanui piko ‘curved; to hide oneself’, cf. also piki ‘to take a canoe’ (the alternation of the sounds o/i is possible). But the term piko can be read pike(a) as well because of the alternation of the sounds o/e (it is registered in the Maori language). Old Rapanui kota ‘to bring’ corresponds to Rapanui koto mai ‘to bring’ (the alternation of the sounds o/a is possible).

The place Koreha Tiki ‘The Eel – (the sun god) Tiki’ (= Koreha a viriviri ngao) is the same panel at the bay Hanga Piko where the eel is represented. I believe that near this panel different ceremonies dedicated to fertility of fish were conducted. An eel-shaped carved wood is known (see Ayres and Ayres 1995: 143, 144, plate 42). On the data of W. Geiseler who visited Easter Island in 1882 this thing was carried in the hand to dances during the fishing season for honouring the fish god.

Undoubtedly, in this inscription the first portion of fish brought to the king Nga Ara is described (cf. Métraux 1937: 50). The expression tahi ika, tahi … (?) reflects the late stage of the development of the Old Rapanui language.

The second text (T 5/6) is presented in fragment 2. It reads as follows: [a segment is damaged] 100 100 100 (102) 61 19-28 56 56 56 (102) 4-17 22 26 26 (102) 68 80 6 [a segment is damaged] 28 65-65 44 (102) 6-6 33 4-17 11 12 62 17 6 (102) 19 12 30 (102) 51 28 6 [a segment is damaged] no, no, no Hina. Ku(p)enga poo, poo, poo. Hetuke, rapa, mama, honu, uhuha(nga)... [(Ariki) mau] Nga (A)ra(a)ra(a)ra(a)ra [rangirangi] ta-haha VAI hetuke, manga, ika. Too te aku IKA Anaken(g)a a …‘… [The fishermen caught fish at] the great offshore fishing location (called) Te Hina. (They) caught fish poopoo with a net. (Here are) sea urchins, mama molluscs, turtles, fish uhuhanga... (The king) Nga Ara looks at the sea urchins, sharks and fish. (He) takes the fish aku of (the royal residence) Anakena …’

Old Rapanui no ‘offshore fishing location; belonging to’ corresponds to Rapanui hakanononga (< haka-nono-nga) ‘offshore fishing location’, cf. also Maori no ‘belonging to’. The fishing ground Te Hina is south-east of the Rano Kau volcano. The fishing ground Te Akurenga [Te Aku renga] is north-west of the royal residence Anakena (Ayres 1979: 69, figure 1; Barthel 1978: 256). Old Rapanui kuenga ‘net’ is comparable with Rapanui kupenga ‘net’ (the alternation of the sounds p/- is possible). Old Rapanui rapa can be compared with the names of the fish reperepe and rapahango (cf. Englert 1974: 194). But Old Rapanui rapa can be translated as ‘big net; dip net; bag net’ as well, cf. Maori rapa ‘wide; flat; extended’, whakarapa ‘a fish basket’. Old Rapanui mama can be compared with the names of the fish momo tara and of the dolphin mamama niuhi, too. In this text glyphs 33 vai (THE WATER) and 12 ika (THE FISH) are generic determinatives. Old Rapanui poo can be compared with Rapanui poopo ‘whitebait’, too.

Here the name of the king Nga Ara is written down as glyphs 28 65-65 Nga (A)ra(a)ra(a)ra(a)ra (sign 65 rangi looks like two signs 39 raa united together).

Rapanui aku means ‘dorado’ (Métraux 1940: 173). On the other hand, the name of the fish nanue para akuaku is known (Randall and Cea Egaña 1984: 11). Rapanui aku renga means ‘name of a fish’ (Barthel 1978: 256). Intersting, Rapanui names of the fish ihe aku and ihe ngaarara are known, too (Randall and Cea Egaña 1984: 8). Perhaps, all these kinds were king’s fish. In this case, the last name reads ihe Nga Ara(a)raihe of (the king) Nga Araara’ (?). The term aku or akuaku is relevant to ghosts and deities.

The third text (T 9) is presented in fragment 3. It reads as follows: [a segment is damaged] 39 4 14 56 (102) 28 14 [a segment is damaged] 100-4-100-4 56 (102) 17 4 [a segment is damaged] … (Too Nga A)ra atua, hau poo ngauno atua, no atua, poo tea ha …Nga Ara who is the lord and the king (takes) the fish poopoo ngau … from the great offshore fishing location (dedicated to) the goddess (= Te Hina), the fish poopoo teatea (of?) …’

The fourth text (I 2) is presented in fragment 4. It reads as follows: 44 6 (102) 28 65-65 49 (102) 4-33 6-56 (102) 44 1-1 81 Taha a Nga (A)ra(a)ra(a)ra(a)ra [rangirangi] (ariki) mau, atua/ua; api Taha Tikitiki manu. ‘The king and the lord Nga Ara is going; (it is) the disappearance of (the god) ‘The Frigate Bird – Tiki – the bird’ (= the sun).’

This report correlates with some sentences of the myth “Hiva Kara Rere, the god of rain” (Felbermayer 1963).

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