Subject:      Re: Polynesian rafts
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1998/05/14
Message-ID:   <6jfg61$cb4$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology

Ross Clark ([18][20] wrote:

: Good. Meanwhile, let me focus your efforts a bit. I had a quick look at
: the relevant section in _American Indians in the Pacific_. The points
: Heyerdahl makes are:
:       - people used rafts in many parts of Polynesia;
:       - in some areas they were very important, notably Mangareva and
:               the Chatham Islands;
: I don't think there's any argument about these points, so don't waste
: time re-proving them.

Well, Ross, I will still provide some interesting quotes about these. And
also about Tonga and Samoa.

: What you seemed to be suggesting is that H. had evidence that at some
: point in the past _only_ rafts were in use,

I did not suggest this. I don't think he did either.

: and that the outrigger canoes
: we commonly associate with Polynesians came along at a later date.

I said nothing about "outriggers". I only said that canoes seem like a
later development that replaced rafts in many places.

I remember a heated discussion last year about outriggers with Larry, and
I even reviewed it, but the issues in that discussion seem rather

: If
: this is so, I would like to know what this evidence is.

No, this is not so. My statements were concise and difficult to

So here are some new quotes:


     AUTHOR: Heyerdahl, Thor.
      TITLE: American Indians in the Pacific: the theory behind the
                Kon-Tiki expedition.
  PUBLISHED: London, Allen [and] Unwin 1952]
DESCRIPTION: xv, 821 p.  illus. (part col.), maps (part col.)

Heyerdahl deals with the rafts vs. canoes on p. 574ff.

ORIGIN, Mariner's Mirror, Vol. XVII, Cambridge, 1931, p. 353):

        "The traditions of Tonga and Samoa make repeated mention of the
use of large sailing rafts in old times; indeed, in Tonga they are even
credited with having been the vessels employed for the conveyance of some
the cyclopean masses used in the construction of their meaglithic
monuments from Wallis Island, 500 miles to the northward" (p. 575)

Here's what he wrote about the Morioris of the Chatham Islands:

        "Roughly four hundred miles east of New Zealand lie the lonely
Chatham Islands, occupied by the Morioris, who in many ways seem to be
survivors from the early Polynesian era -- racially because of their often
strongly hooked noses and frequently reddish-brown hair, and historically
because they claim that some of their ancestors were refugees from early
New Zealand, fleeing when the warlike Maori settlers arrived in their
canoes. Shand in his early paper on THE CANOES OF THE MORIORIS (A. Shand,
THE CANOES OF THE MORIORIS, Trans. Proc. N. Zeal. Inst., Vol. IV, 1871, p.
354), shows that there were four types of Moriori water-craft, all much
alike and all wash-through raft-boats. Neither dug-out nor plank canoes,
nor the outrigger, was known in this group." (p. 580)

And here Heyerdahl gives a bit of his personal experience in Polynesia:

        "... the natives in the Tuamotu group immediately distinguished
the Kon-Tiki balsa raft as a _pae-pae_, telling its crew that such craft
were well known to their ancestors and were described in their earliest
songs and traditions as _pae-pae_ or sometimes as _rongo-rongo_. The
raftsmen of Mangareva also referred to their own rafts as _pae-pae_
(Seurat, 1905, p. 483), and the Chathan Islanders used the same term to
designate the largest raft-boats by which formerly they crossed wide
stretches of ocean" (Shand, 1911, p. 86). (p. 584)

Heyerdahl adds further that rafts would have been very suitable for
transporting large stone blocks for the megalithic constructions in
various places in eastern Polynesia, including the Easter Island, while
canoes would have been quite unsuitable for this purpose.

I think there seems to be a lot of evidence to indicate that megalithic
constructions and the use of rafts were closely related. Both seem to have
been features of the earliest Polynesian history of settlement.

Best regards,


Yuri Kuchinsky  -=O=- 

What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may
reflect on them, and know their outcome; or declare
to us the things to come -=O=-  Isaiah 41:22

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