The People Who Live in Tahiti and Her Islands
Polynesians are known the world over for their easy going approach to life and their hospitality. There are 220,000 people living in French Polynesia, with 74% living on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. Over 83% of the population is Polynesian, 12% European and 5% Asian.
and their Culture
History of Tahiti
Tahiti was discovered on June 23, 1767 by an Englishmen, Samuel Wallis. Samuel Wallis claimed the Islands of Tahiti as “King George III Island.” He was followed by a Frenchman Louise-Antoine Bougainville on the 6th of April 1768 who claimed the islands for the King of France. Both Samuel Wallis and Louise- Antoine Bougainville were unaware that the other had landed on Tahiti and coincidentally, both claimed the land for their countries. Then along came James Cook on three occasions, 1769, 1773 and 1777. Knowledge and awareness of Tahiti grew as James Cook, a well known scientist and artist brought back thousands of illustrations of Tahitian flora and fauna as well as the first map of the islands of the Pacific.
In the 1800’s the arrival of whalers, British missionaries and French military expeditions would create a French- British rivalry for control of the islands. In 1957, all of the islands of Tahiti were reconstituted as overseas French territory called French Polynesia. Today the government enjoys more self governing powers and the Tahitians are renewing their interests in ancestral art and traditions.
- Maeva -
Culture Of Tahiti
Tahitians today have inherited a rich from their Maohi ancestors. Maohi oral history recounts the adventures of gods, warriors, and chiefs in colorful myths and legends. In ancient times, javelin throwing was the sport of the Gods, surf riding was also favored by the kings, Aito strongmen competed in an outrigger canoe races and warriors practiced stone lifting in a show of strength. Music and dance are another important component of ancient Tahitian culture. In ancient times dances were linked to all aspects of life.
There were dances of joy, to welcome a visitor, to pray to a god, to challenge an enemy, and to seduce a mate. Dance would be and still is accompanied with traditional musical instruments such as thunderous drums, conch shells and harmonic nasal flutes. The word Tattoo comes from Tahiti. The legend of Tohu, the god of Tattoo describes the paintings of all the oceans fish in beautiful colors and patterns. In the Polynesian culture, tattoos are considered signs of beauty and in earlier t imes they were demanded by social custom, particularly for boys as they reached adolescence.
History Of Tahiti
The skills of the ancestor’s artistry are guarded and passed on by the “mamas”, the guardians of the tradition and the matriarchs of Tahitian society. Some of the traditional handicrafts that you can purchase in the open air markets or boutiques are mats, baskets, hats that are woven from local pandanus trees, shell necklaces, wooden drums, and colorful Pareus, intriquately carved Tiki statues, bowls, plates. The open air sanctuaries known as Marae were the center of power in ancient Polynesia. All important events of a secular nature such as peace treaties, celebrations of war, or voyage preparations were held at the Marae