In her attempt to gather information on the Easter Island script, Routledge (1919:250-
The "writing" of Tomenika does not contribute anything to our understanding of rongorongo, but the text he recited is an important source on the neru (2). The beginning line, katau koe e te atuke, can be reconstructed with the help of another text from Tomenika, entitled tau ohive, i.e., tau o hiva, "beautiful girl of Hiva" (Reel 2:0815; Fischer 1997:290). This fragment reads ka tau koe e ehe tuké e vene vene eti paro paroko – katau koe e pipi e mamai. Although the second part is obscure, it is clear from the presence of "beautiful girls", "Hiva", and the "paroko fish", that the "extraordinary star" in question is a neru girl (3).
The fact that Tomenika was well acquainted with material concerning initiation rituals can be deduced from yet another text, one which he supplied on March 17, 1915 as a so-
This short text paints the same bleak picture as most of the other neru chants. It has several details with them in common such as the sitting "in the back" of a cave, the change of skin color, the loss of eyesight, the lack of movement, and the diet of sugarcane juice. Most importantly, it uses the term mata mahore, "injured eyes", which also appears in the long Tomenika text below but has been rendered as mata mahire (cf. line 65). Also of interest is the fact that Routledge's informants linked a category of rongorongo inscriptions to the take ritual (Reel 2:0814a).
The long text that Tomenika recited to his four rows of improvised glyphs has a number of important elements in common with other neru texts such as the ritual transformation into fish and birds, the identification of the paled child with a "star", most likely the planet Venus, and the references to the place of seclusion as a "buoy" (uto), i.e., a gourd, and as being part of Hiva, the spirit world, There are, however, also some new and intriguing details. The most important of these is the presence of the chtonic god Hiro. Hiro (Whiro in Maori lore) was a brother of the sea god Tangaroa, and in much the same way intimately connected to darkness and death (5). Hiro was apparently also connected to the sky and to rainfall, perhaps in the same way as Tangaroa was associated with dark storm clouds. On Easter Island, their close relationship is also evidenced by the place name Papa Tangaroa Hiro on the south coast (Charlín Ojeda 1947:172).
The left column below gives the Tomenika text as recorded by Routledge. The numbers in parentheses are Routledge's, and refer to the numbered glyphs in Tomenika's manuscript (these are in declining order as Tomenika recited to them from right to left). A transcription of Routledge's integral notes – which include glosses collected from her informants – can be found below. They make it abundantly clear that by the beginning of the 20th century the meaning of the text had been almost completely lost.
(1) koe e ... e: this combination of the second person singular pronoun koe and the disjunct vocative e ... e, is used while "(t)he narrative is in the third person, i.e. no addressee is involved as a participant; yet the speaker is, as it were, addressing the participant" (Kieviet: 2016:137). Fedorova (1965:400) who calls the construction the "article circumfix", gives examples of its occurrence in Manuscripts A and C with both personal and impersonal nouns. According to her, "(t)his form of the article was not registered either in kohau rongo-
(2) 'ana ko renga: the phrase is comparable to the beginning of the "Rapanui numerals" recorded by the Spanish in 1770: ko 'ana ko renga, "(It is called) the cave with the beautiful girls".
(3) rima: Roussel (1908:211): "enduire en erreur"; Churchill (1912:250): "to lead into error".
(5) ko te maru: it has been assumed that as the text was no longer understood, this eroded to komari. Accordingly, the shorter text (Reel 2:0682b) has changed rapa into papa, thus connecting the word komari to the so-
(9) spinning: roro viri is glossed as "headaches". The translation "spinning" is proposed as viri literally means "to turn", "to roll".
(13) Surely (we) will not give up (on her)?: alt.: "Surely (she) will not abandon (us)?"
(14) Hiro: judging by the glosses the name of the god Hiro is mistaken here for that of Ohiro, the night of the "new moon". It is however also possible that it became confused with Te-
(15) to: this particle is probably the same as given by Roussel (1908:184) as "celui-
(16) pangoro: written as pangor and glossed as "conger eel". The informants of Routledge also provided a drawing of an eel-
(22) rere: alt.: riri, "repugnant", "angry".
(23) has become fair: perhaps this is another link to the star metaphor as tea also means "to shine" and in refrence to the moon and the stars "to rise", "to appear".
(26) the canoe of Hiro: the text – which apparently refers to a star or constellation – has pakia, "seal". To my knowledge there is no "seal" among the Polynesian constellation names. It is therefore assumed that the original word was pahi, "canoe". A possible parallel is the waka of the aforementioned voyager Whiro which was called Hotu-
(29) tanga: alt.: tahanga, "sacrifice".
(35) expanding: alt.: "bleeding".
(37) After Hiva Routledge inserts the word "name" in the Rapanui text (see below), the meaning of which is not clear. Possibly, it is a misplaced gloss. This would make it one of many that identify unknown terms as proper names.
(43) buoy: the gourd used in the sea functions as a metaphor for the cave and its watery environment (which is also compared to a womb). The same reference is found in the "Rapanui numerals": kokohu kirote ma hana te uto: "the 'buoy' provides shade inside for the heat". Another text has ipu kaha – the gourd used as a vessel – instead (cf. text C2).
(46) is in pain: cf. TAH: mahore, "peler (intr.), s'écailler, être écorché; injure"; HAW; maahole, "to bruise, skin, scrape, as a flesh wound; to injure, as the feelings" (POLLEX). As Rapanui dictionairies list mahore as a small silver or gold colored fish (Englert 1978:186; Fuentes 1960:777, respectively), another possibility is that this is another "fish metaphor" referring to the neru, comparable to paroko and pangoro,
(48) with this dizziness: alt.: "in the company of these lizards". In New Zealand, the dreaded lizard (moko) was associated with Whiro (Best 1923:110). Interestingly, on Easter Island a point of land near Anakena bay is called Hiro Moko (Charlín Ojeda 1947:133).
(49) 'uri: alt.: huri: "to overthrow".
(53) kekepu: an obscure animal that appears in several legends. According to Fuentes (1960:759), it is likely a variety of sea tortoise. However, the fact that it is described here as "spouting water" seems to point to a sea mammal possessing a blowhole such as the dolphin, the porpoise, and the whale, As the warm air is expelled it forms an upward, steamy spout that is easily mistaken for water.
(60) wounds: alt.: "smears".
(66) keke pu: these words apparently became fused into kekepu because of the presence of this word in line 53.
(72) ko hue riva: perfect aspect requires postverbal markers 'a or 'ana. The omission could have resulted from a Tahitian influence. Metoro, for example, also uses ku without these markers (alongside kua, from Tahitian 'ua).
(74) banana flower juice: this sweet beverage is also mentioned in another neru chant (cf. text C1).
(80) waiting: alt.: ate, "singing".
(86) because these minds of ours were dazzled: this is a reference to line 9. Whereas the first "dazzling" was caused by the shining appearence of the neru imagined as a star, this second appears to be intended to convey serious doubts about the consequences of the seclusion, i.e., people have been "blind" for all the negative consequences that are summed up in the preceding lines.