Added: 2017-02-22

Heyerdahl & Ferdon (1)

He timo te akoako (version A)

The text of version A stems from the Esteban Atan manuscript book ("manuscript A"), which dates to 1936 but was allegedly copied from earlier, possibly late 19th century sources (cf. Heyerdahl & Ferdon 1965:360-361). According to Fischer (1994b:415), text A "represents the longest, most comprehensible, and best scanned version of the chant. Despite its orthography, it is superior to the many versions that Routledge collected from the 'younger generation' 20 years later in 1914-5". However, the reason that the chant appears to be the most comprehensible is the fact that it was reworked into a more understandable and for Catholics acceptable text. When the text is compared to the versions recorded by Routledge (especially variants E, G and I), it becomes clear that parts that were no longer understood or that were deemed undesirable were modified or erased. References to Tangaroa or his opponent have been omitted. In a similar way, "darkness" is only mentioned in regard to the agony of staying inside a cave, while the context of the bleaching process disappeared. This is in accordance with the change in Polynesian orientation from a balanced night–day, darkness–light, supernatural–human dichotomy towards a post-missionary one in which the night and the concept of Po became associated with evil, sin, and hell (cf. Bausch 1978). The fact that the Esteban Atan manuscript also contains a brief Rapanui version of Genesis suggests that the compiler of these texts was well acquainted with Catholic doctrine. It is however unclear whether he merely copied an already revised text or edited the text himself. Whatever will prove to be the case, it must have been the work of someone who was still well aware of the fact that He timo te akoako was a song about the neru, a fact that apparently had been lost to Routledge's informants. As it stands, text A provides a very graphic account of the precarious position of the young girls who were confined to the shadows of an isolated coastal cave.


(8) punaka: according to Fischer (1994b:427), this name for the chicks of the kakapa, an unidentified seabird, was added because the word kapakapa in line 6 was interpreted as the adult bird. It is proposed here that punaka is similar to Marquesan punaka, "to hide", "to crouch" (Dordillon 1931:344: punaka: "se cacher"; "se tapir"). According to POLLEX this derives from PN: punanga: "refuge", "hiding-place", e.g. MAO: punanga: "secluded", "hidden", "refuge". Interesting is also Dordillon's e vae punaka: "pieds dont la peau se détache".

(15) 'a tu'a 'a runga e: this may have been interpreted as 'atua 'a runga e, "O, Lord above".

(17) hiki: Englert 1978:131-132: hiki: "doblar ligeramente las rodillas, como lo hacían los jóvenes de ambos sexos que, después de haber quedado largo tiempo en casa, para guardar la tez blance de su cuerpo, se exhibían en las danzas, llamadas a te hikiŋa haúŋa, pasando en fila por una vereda de piedras lisas, pintadas sus caras con tierra de color y doblando levemente a cada paso las rodillas."

(21) Alt.: "(They) deplore (your) leaving (them), Makemake!"

(26) tataka tamahahine: alt.: to take tamahahine: "Those girls are part of the take ritual".

This swallowing brings (them) grief,

(but) it must be swallowed

by the "expanding ones",

the "bending ones",

the "staggering ones",

the "wing-flapping ones",

the "ones tied together",

the 'birds with crouching legs',

the "four-legged birds"!

Why is it that

(they) must stay in this cave at the back in the shadows,

the darkness, the gloom?        

(They) are miserable because (they) are bewildered!  

That melancholy is directed at Hiva!

At the back, high up there,

bitter melancholy has taken possession of those "hens"!

Why are (they) learning those hiki-songs

if (they) have to sit inside that hole?

O, melancholy,  

when (they) recite the taboo on going outside!

(They) deplore leaving (us), Makemake!  

(They) deplore (their) confinement

(in) that special cave for trapped "hens"!

Those captured "hens" are bumping into each other

and groping in the dark!

Those girls are annoyed

because that sloping path is forbidden (to them)!

he timo. teako ako.

heako ako tena.

ete tuu


ete kuia.

ete kapa. kapa.

ete herehue.

e te manu vae punaka.

e te manu vae ehá.

e. áhaana.

e noho ana. itua teata ata.

maru maru kohu kohu.

ogaoa. nivae.

kia hivatipara.

a tua rugaé.

para kava tohua,

ahama te riu. iki,

monoho i roto itepu,

e parae

karutu itapu ohea.

he timo rere. makai makai

te timo herere.

anake aú a hee,

pua kapaua rava.

totake tamaha hine.

otapu ara tahá

he timo te akuaku

e akuaku tena    

e te tetu

e te taha

e te kui

e te kapakapa  

e te here hue

e te manu va'e punaka

e te manu va'e eha    

he aha 'ana

e noho 'ana 'i tua te 'ata'ata

marumaru kohukohu

onge o aniva e    

ki a Hiva te para

'a tu'a 'a runga e   

para kava to uha

he aha maa te riu hiki

mo noho 'i roto i te pu  

e para e

ka rutu i tapu o e'a

he timo rere Makemake

he timo herere

'ana ke 'a uha here

pua kapa uha rava

tatake tamahahine

o tapu ara taha

Text Heyerdahl & Ferdon






























Fig. 1

 The "sloping path" to 'Ana O Keke