Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books as decoration: Vinothek

Hip new wine bar in Crown Street in Sydney shows that print is mostly dead. Some used book dealer is on to a good thing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Papetoai

‘In one of the visits which Mr. Nott made to the residence of Taaroarii, for the purpose of preaching to his people, he was followed by Patii, the priest of the temple in Papetoai, the district in which the missionaries resided. This individual appeared to listen most attentively to what was said; and after the conclusion of the service, he and Mr. Nott proceeded together along the beach towards the settlement.As they walked, Patii fully disclosed the feelings of his mind to Mr. Nott, and assured him that on the morrow, at a certain hour, he would bring out the idols under his care, and publicly burn them. […]
Patii, however, was punctual to his word. He, with his friends, had collected a quantity of fuel near the sea-beach; and, in the afternoon, the wood was split, and piled on a point of land in the western part of Papetoai, near the large national Marae, or temple, in which he had officiated. […]
A short time before sun-set, Patii appeared, and ordered his attendants to apply fire to the pile. This being done, he hastened to the sacred depository of the gods… When he approached the burning pile, he laid them down on the ground. They were small carved wooden images, rude imitations of the human figure; or shapeless logs of wood, covered with finely braided and curiously wrought cinet of cocoa-nut fibres, and ornamented with red feathers. […]
Patii tore off the sacred cloth in which they were enveloped, to be safe from the gaze of vulgar eyes; stripped them of their ornaments, which he cast into the fire; and then one by one threw the idols themselves into the crackling flames – sometimes pronouncing the name and pedigree of the idol, and expressing his own regret at having worshipped it – at others, calling upon the spectators to behold their inability even to help themselves. Thus were the idols which Patii, who was a powerful priest in Eimeo, had worshipped, publicly destroyed.’

Reverend William Ellis, Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Six Years in the South Sea Islands (London, 1829)

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Raiatea

The missionary ‘Papeiha requested the people to attend a general meeting which was to be held on the following morning… At the appointed hour, the whole of the inhabitants of the island assembled, and, after having spoken to them of the immense labour they formerly bestowed in the erection of the maraes, and in the worship of their gods, he exhorted them to let their “strength, devotedness, and steadfastness in the service of the true God, far exceed.” He then made the following two propositions: first, “That all the maraes in the island should be burned, and that all the remaining idols should be brought to him, in order that he might forward them to us at Raiatea, that we, with our people, might also rejoice in the triumphs of the word.” The second proposition was, “That we should commence immediately building a house in which to worship Jehovah.” To both these proposals the assembled multitude yielded their cordial assent. As soon as the meeting broke up, a general conflagration of the maraes took place; and so complete was the destruction, that, on the following morning, not a single idol temple remained unmutilated.’

John Williams, A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands (London, 1838)