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James Morrison's Account of TahitiIndigenous Histories
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Relegous & other Customs


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Relegous & other Customs

When they make an offering to the Deity, the Hog is brought to the Morai where it is killd and Cleand as if for eating, it is then besmeard with its own Blood and placed on the alter to rot and they suppose the Deity is Gratified by eating the Soul of the Victim as he also does of those who die, Whether Man or Beast, but those who are killd on purpose for him have always the effect of procuring favours for the Maker of the Sacrafice. The Priests then Dress the intrails with Bread fruit & Roots, and eat them on the Morai, and as they observe the Birds often eat the Plantains they frequently lay a bunch or two of the Best sort on the Alter together with Fish, Fowles &c. and they are scarce ever without some thing on them.

The first Fruits of all kinds are offered to the Deity, next to the Chief and to the Lord of the Mannor before they eat any themselves, and the Fish in like Manner; if a Man has a Fishing Seine to Wet or a New Canoe to launch he makes a Feast on the Morai for the Priests, who offer up Plantain trees and prayers for their success, and the First fish always goes to the Morai where the priest offers it with prayers. The Next to the Priests, the 3rd to the Chief and the 4th to the Lord of the Mannor or landlord; and till all these are served they never taste the Fruits of their labour.

The first pig is always offered at 8 or ten Days old and a Chicken of the Brood is also offered, and for their Children they always make an offering according to their ability and is either a Pig or a Fowle.

If any thing toutches the Alter, or even the Sacred Ground about the Morai, let the Value be ever so great it is deemd Sacred, and for that reason can never be brought into unhallow’d ground, or toutchd but by the Priests & should a Hog or Dog &c. run into any of the Sacred Grounds they are killd for sacrafice.

When a Feast is made on any Morai it is always from a Freewill Offering (& of which they have many) and the Whole of the Victuals must be eaten there & not removed from the Sacred Ground, let the quantity be what it will. The Breast & one shoulder of evry hog is the Chief’s share but in his absence they fall to the Priests with the Head & Intrails which is their own share, nevertheless if any person at hand is Intitled to eat on the Morai and has not been served they invite him or them to partake.

When the priest or preists (as beforesaid) attend these Feasts they and all who enter on the Morai Must be Naked to the Waist, but when they attend any Ceremony off the Morai they have their Shoulders Covered and their Head anointed with Oil, a kind of


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© Derived from the 1935 Print Edition edited by Owen Rutter, page 182, 2004
Published by South Seas, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-jrnl-morrison-055