Tiki (Maori Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, Maori Folk Tales6760

Tāne gazed on red clay that lay exposed where earth had fallen from a cliff. “Red, the sacred colour!” he said; “and earth, from which all things grow and flourish. Surely from this I can make something greater than anything I have yet attempted.”

He gathered the red clay and worked it with his hands, kneading it and fashioning it into a shape like his own. When the shape was made he breathed into it his own breath. Slowly life went into the figure, and it began to breathe as if in sleep.

Tāne stood, chanting a life-giving song. The limbs received their powers, the eyes opened and saw the world. The shape arose and walked. It was Tiki, the first man, whose heart and all inner parts were red as the clay from which he was made.

Tāne, invisible, watched the man walk with dazed and wondering eyes across the barren plain where he had lain towards the forest trees where birds were singing. Invisible goddesses floated through the air to look at this new creature. “He will need a mate,” they said.

From the Sunshine that quivered on the trees and the Echo that wandered through them, the goddesses wove a fine mist, which limb by limb they shaped into a woman. They sent her out to meet the man, and he was lonely no more. The two lived together in the Earth-mother”s garden, and from them have all the men and women come that live there to this day.

Tāne went to live in the shining Sunrise Land, beside the Lake of Glowing Light. So Tu was left master of the garden, for he alone of the six giant-brothers was left. Ever since, the men and women who live there have received good things from four of the brothers–from Tāne”s trees wood for boats and houses, fibrous leaves for ropes and clothing; from Rongo and Haumia roots and berries; from Tangaroa fish. But from Tu they received an evil gift, for he taught them the art of fighting. Yet, strange to say, they worshipped him more than any of the brothers. They made him their god of war; and since then peace has left the earth.

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