This is the 14th post of a trip to Tahiti, which started on May 10/2022 (here)
Day 8 -(Saturday) - Aranui Cruise to the Marquesses
Hiva Oa (second day) - the villages of: Puamau
Only half a day was spend on the north part of the island
The ship that moored most of the night at the Atuona harbor, on the Southern side of the Hiva Oa, started sailing at 4;00 am to Puamau - (Flower Shadow) on the Northern side of the island.
Indigo waters against coastal cliffs volcanic rocks, ,and mesmerizing sky
opened the morning
A platora of several rain bows colored the partly clouded sky at sun rise.
Sailing along the island coast.
Excursion of the day
The 4x4 vehicles were already parked along the hilly road, when the group was transported to shore, again by barges disparaged at sea, and disembarked
at the already very busy small dock, where tons of copra were brought to be loaded by the locals, and while Aranui cargo was unloading.
Driving up the Island
Getting to Te I’Ipona - Me'ae Iipona - Most important Archeological site
First stop at Puama'u village, of about 300 inhabitants, sunk in a lush vegetation surroundings
The incomparable beauty of the island made, locals once to believe that Hiva Oa was the birthplace of the gods.
Several of them are curved of local red volcanic stone scattered in the valley.
Near the village there is most incredible archaeological site, of an .impressive ancient shrines, hidden in a very lush valley, where a collection of large “tiki” monuments- old human= like religious stone sculptures Gods, were excavated, in the mid 1980.
Much used material here is ke’etu – a red or yellow volcanic tuff.
Me’ae Iipona is located in a river valley at the foot of a steep cliff. and the complex, contains the highest concentration of tiki statues in Marquesas.
This ancient Me'ae site were linked with many tapu – most people were not allowed to visit and see them, thus they were often built in secluded places, far away from the villages. They were constructed for ceremonies and gatherings. where important diverse rituals. and funerary rites, which often required human sacrifice., where preformed. Humans or pigs bones were found among the stones.
Among the 18 tiki of Me’ae Iipona two are unique – Tiki Takai’i and Maki’i Taua Pepe.
Takaii, a stone carved tiki, represents a powerful chieftain and warrior leader renowned for his strength, and now is a guardian spirit of this valley.
It is the largest stone sculpture tiki in French Polynesia, .except for the amazing moai in Easter Island.
An impressive 2 m + ,(height measurements keeps growing..) among lithic structures.
Lacking Banyan trees, which within their roots traditionally, the dignitary dead ancestors were buried, a cave at a top of a high mountain rock with skeletons was found,
That was the burial custom in this island at the ancient times.
Surrounded by beautifully lush gardens, ceremonial platforms, and houses platforms the site is overwhelming and bears what Polynesians call the “mana” (spiritual power).
A legend tells that in this valley once lived Naiki tribe. who captured the chief of the neighboring tribe, sacrificed him and ate him for ritualistic ceremonial purposes.
The revenge of neighboring tribe was terrible – they routed the Naiki, and only some escaped and ended in the Easter Island.
The house of the defeated chief of Naiki was transformed into the present-day me’ae.
Many locals are convinced that spirits of deceased are still wandering in this site
Usually, me’ae consist of three levels, where each level may have several terraces.
The upper level often contains a stone-clad structure that is surrounded by a row of upright stone slabs. Some of these upright stones may be adorned with petroglyphs.
Horizontally position Tiki - Maki’i Taua Pepe and "llama"
One of the most mysterious Polynesian stone sculptures is the Maki’i Taua Pepe
(often called "flying tiki". This is a unique tiki which is rather horizontal than vertical.
Speculations tells that this could be a woman with a distorted face giving painful birth to the future goddess. She lies on her stomach – a weird position for a women of Marquesas to give birth in this unlikely position..
At the base of this tiki is carved a bas-relief which shows something that looks like a llama – an animal living only in South America. The carving is not too clear and can also be a dog or a goat which . Islanders have kept
A pictograph of a goat or a dog on an an unusual horizontally positioned Tiki
The site has been always known to local people and was restored during the Marquesas Art Festival in 1991 Only a small part of the site has been excavated and most of the Tikis are still buried under trees and massive rocks.
The plants on site
Thant afternoon the Aranui continued to the next island
To be continued....