Cultural Chronology and Change: As Reflected in the Ceramics by Collier, Donald; Martin, Paul S.; Ross, Lillian

By Collier, Donald; Martin, Paul S.; Ross, Lillian

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The two legends which have been recorded from Samoa are of a somewhat different type in that they are more a part of the cosmogonic tales. According to one version, in early times there was a flood which destroyed all beings, except one man, Pili, and his wife, who took refuge on a rock, these survivors subsequently becoming the ancestors of mankind. Another form of the myth states that when the flood came, Seve and a man called Pouniu alone saved themselves by swimming. Tangaloa saw them from the sky, and pitying their plight sent down two men from the heavens with hooks, who drew Samoa from under the sea to serve as a refuge for the two who were thus rescued.

In this form the tale occurs only in tropical Polynesia, i. e. in the region where the coco-nut is found; but in New Zealand, where this fruit does not grow, the legend seems to have assumed a slightly different aspect, and it is apparently lacking in Hawaii, although the coconut is abundant there. Two aspects of this myth are worthy of further consideration. The "Beauty and the Beast" incident (i. e. the lover who comes in animal guise) is one widely current in parts of Melanesia and Indonesia, but apart from this central and western portion it does not appear to be common in Polynesia.

She did this, and according to his request visited the spot daily. For some time nothing was to be seen, but at length a green shoot became visible and finally grew into a beautiful tree. In course of time this produced fruits, which were the first coco-nuts, and on each nut, when husked, the eyes and face of Ina's lover can still be seen. In this form the tale occurs only in tropical Polynesia, i. e. in the region where the coco-nut is found; but in New Zealand, where this fruit does not grow, the legend seems to have assumed a slightly different aspect, and it is apparently lacking in Hawaii, although the coconut is abundant there.

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