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Le Rouge et le Blanc

Na wai taua?

3 Janvier 2012 , Rédigé par Béthune

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 Voyage de  Dumont d'Urville: la côte orientale de l'Île du Nord (Nouvelle-Zélande)

 

The Maori employs the aid of gesture to a considerable extent, and exercises this art in a facile and appropriate manner. In describing any incident he brings hands, arms, body, head, and features into play in his animated description. These gestures are in most cases of a natural and easily understood nature—indeed, they serve to illustrate the narrative. A few call for some knowledge of native usages ere one can understand them. Whether used as an accompaniment to spoken language of intercourse, or to posture dances, these gestures are never awkward or unpleasing to the eye. One sometimes detects in half-breeds something of the stiff, ungraceful limb-movements of our own folk.

So given was the Maori to song and the love of rhythmical sound that he always intoned any recitative form of speech, such as charms. Moreover, this harmonious, ear-pleasing mode of intoning was employed in cases wherein we should never think of using it. Thus, should a travelling party meet a number of strangers, or should a people be attacked by persons they did not recognize, their principal man would call out the inquiry “Na wai taua?” (“From whom are we?”—“sprung” or “descended” understood). This query was not spoken simply, but was intoned. The reply would be delivered in a like manner: “We are from Rangi above and Papa beneath.” Then would follow some explanation as to who the speaker was. (….)

In the mist-laden days of the remote past the ancestors of the Maori left their hidden homeland beneath the setting sun, and fared forth upon the Great Ocean of Kiwa in search of new homes. With sublime courage and self-reliance they forced their way through hordes of hostile peoples, and with grim tenacity held for unknown generations to their quest of the rising sun. They opened up the sea roads athwart the vast Pacific, and lifted many strange stars on far horizons. For century after century they followed the rolling water trails to the lure of Hine-moana, they explored the farthest island groups, they settled and resettled every land that flecks the Many-isled Sea. The Maori has fulfilled the task allotted to him in the scheme of human development; he now steps aside from the old, old path he has trodden for so many centuries. Never again will he feel the leaping rush of his lean prau, never again hear the plaint of distressed outriggers hard buffeted by Hine-moana, or see afar off the loom of new lands where the sky hangs down. Ka to he ra, ka ura he ra! (A sun sets, a sun rises!)

Elsdon Best , The Maori As He Was : A Brief Account of Life as it Was in Pre-European Days. Dominion Museum, 1934, Wellington (N-Z)

           Tawhaio, a Maori chief. G. Lindauer painted this picture, which is in the possession of the Alexander Museum at Wanganui. It gives a good idea of the dignity of the Maori chief. Note the huia feathers in his hair, his greenstone ear pendant, and his whalebone club.



Tawhiao, a Maori chief. G. Lindauer painted this picture, which is in the possession of the Alexander Museum at Wanganui. It gives a good idea of the dignity of the Maori chief. Note the huia feathers in his hair, his greenstone ear pendant, and his whalebone club (kotiate). Source: link

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