The reason why I am so into the Polynesian books is because the love I have for the dance and culture. Visiting the islands and reading up about it all completed my circle. How can you dance, sing or speak the language if you don't know its history? You will find that it can be really hard to find a good book about Polynesia, most of them boring because its a history book and it also goes back to talking about Cook and how he discovered it. I looked through the cracks and it sure took a long time to find some wholesome books about the islands. When I say wholesome, I mean about the people, how they lived, what went through their minds and how it was to be in their shoes - not so much from an American history point of view but from a Native.
|picture I took of Mt. Mouaputa in Moorea, the legend says, that the hole on top was made by the spear of demigod Pai. Pai tossed the spear all the way from Tahiti to protect this from being dragged to Raiatea by Hiro, god of thieves.|
Let's start with the actual Tahitian Bible - now when I say bible, I don't mean a translation of the bible into the Tahitian language...and you know what? It's really not a bible, it's more of a history book that was recorded by J.M. Orsmond who was of the London Missionary Society. He stated in the preface of this beautiful book, titled "Ancient Tahiti", that "the history of Tahiti should be based only on the traditional statements of its people." So what did he do? He discovered the island, spoke with priests and bards, recorded everything that he heard from the natives, both men and women. Unfortunately he passed before the book can be completed so it was passed on to his granddaughter, Teuira Henry, to complete. In this book, you will find the beautiful stories, not written in a pretty fashion, but the history of the islands, the culture, the tradition, the way of clothing, the foods they ate, how a wedding ceremony is held, why they talk to the dead, the lineage of ancient Polynesian kings, the nature and how important it is to these people, chants and dances. This is a very rich, vibrant history book, nothing is sugar coated and you may even find some stories horrid! For example, how the newlyweds scrapes their scalp so the blood can run onto a white sacred sheet that is to be given to their inlaws....Okay that is just one example. My Ori Tahiti teacher even created live production performances based from some of the folklore in this book. I am proud to say, I was able to participate in these performances, singing and dancing! I must say he was the one who introduced me to this book and I am thankful he did! Now, I really don't remember where I bought it or how, I just know that it was out of print and I've had this book for 11 years. As I search the internet for this book now, I stumble across Amazon - who does not sell it at the moment - and I stumble across an auction site and voila....there it is! Starting bids start at $300!
|Baie de Cook|
Going to the next book....well, you can say out of print books...I have a vivid collection written by James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff. Most of these books are out of print. Everyone knows "Mutiny on the Bounty"....boring! Well, what I mean is that its boring compared to their other books...."Dark River" is a beautiful love story, "Hurricane" was turned into a black and white film, and no one really knows about "The Far Lands" but that was a beautiful book! All of their books are written in fiction form but the description of the culture and the islands are just something to immerse yourself in. You really feel like you are there! Now I inspired my Ori Tahiti teacher to create a production based on the "The Far Lands". I remember I gave him a copy of the book and his wife back then told me that he couldn't put the book down, he even reads it while sitting on the toilet! As for the book "Dark River", I lent it to a male friend - since it's out of print, its rare to find, he told me he cried! I can go on and on about all these books on my shelves - just alone for Polynesian story writers there are a few from Robert Dean Frisbee (stories mostly about his family and survival on the islands), Joseph Conrad (his adventures in sea), and Pierre Loti (falling in love with a native woman).
|Marae Ahu O Mahine, a sacred cemetary|
Let's catch up to speed, we all have read books written about Hawaii, especially when back in the 60's there was a big craze about vacationing in Hawaii and doing the Hula! I have plenty books about the dance, their chants, language books and dictionaries. There is one particular book that stands out and it's a fiction book, it's called "Moloka'i"
I just cried....what a touching story. I mean, can you really imagine having leprosy and having to live on that island? This book is the true-to-life chronicle of a people who embraced life in the face of death.
My favorite Tahitian writer is Celestine Vaite (don't worry, she writes in English). Her books have made me mostly laugh! It may be a bit gossipy but definitely reflects on the reality of many lives in the South Pacific. Definitely a must read...in this order: "Breadfruit", "Frangipani", and "Tiare in Bloom"
Celestine Hitiura Vaite's books I have yet to read her fourth one called "Tiare".
Well, there you have it, some suggestions in a nutshell. If you ever feel like "being there" pick up one of these beautiful books. Stay tuned for my French book collection and recipe book collection!
|Me preparing my ti leaves in Moorea|