Ancient Religions of the Austronesian World: From by Julian Baldick

By Julian Baldick

Austronesia is the huge oceanic sector which stretches from Madagascar to Taiwan to New Zealand. Encompassing either scattered archipelagos and significant landmasses, Austronesia – derived from the Latin australis, 'southern', and Greek nesos, 'island' – is used basically as a linguistic time period, designating a relations of languages spoken through peoples with a shared historical past. Julian Baldick, a celebrated historian of old faith, the following argues that the various population of the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Guinea and Oceania convey a typical inheritance that extends past language. This commonality is located certainly in mythology and formality, which succeed in again to an historical, prehistoric earlier. From round 1250 BCE the unique proto-Oceanic audio system migrated eastwards from southeast Asia. Navigating by means of the sunlight, the celebs, poultry flight, the swells of the ocean and cloud-swathed mountain islands, Austronesian voyagers used canoes and outriggers to decide on new territories. They constructed a unified development of faith characterized by way of mortuary rites, headhunting and agrarian rituals of the yearly calendar, culminating in a post-harvest pageant usually sexual in nature. This certain evaluate of Austronesian trust and culture can be crucial examining for college kids of faith, prehistory and anthropology.

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He is the deputy of Ak’emameoi in the waters, is made responsible for the result of fishing, and fights the evil water-spirit Engohcu. Alongside him is the spirit of millet, Bai-ton’u, whose name means ‘Grandmother Millet’. She is made responsible for the result of the millet harvest, and is a culture-heroine. Her counterpart is the spirit of rice, Bai-pai, ‘Grandmother Rice,’ also a culture-heroine and responsible for the rice harvest. Beneath these spirits stands the communal spirit, Hicu-nopa’mumutu, whose name means ‘spirit of the boundary stone’.

A woman was never allowed to enter it or even climb its steps. Boys, by contrast, would come to it after the age of one, and had to play in it. Youths lived in it, in order to learn from their elders how to use bows and arrows and hunt. 42 Behind the building there was a broad open space, where sacrifices were performed by the entire village. There was also a red fig tree, which was surrounded on all four sides by a small fence, to emphasize its being ‘taboo’. 43 According to Ho¨llmann’s sources the Tsou used to kill twins.

Alongside shamanesses there are male ‘bamboo diviners’, who split bamboo stems into splinters, in which they read the answers to questions. These diviners also perform rituals for the community as a whole. In one such ritual, called ‘giving the share’, they put down seven bamboo beakers, and, in front of each one, seven pieces of meat for the spirits. Formerly the diviners performed the ‘rite of the deer’ after a successful headhunting expedition, in order to reintegrate the warriors into society.

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