This is a guest post by Peter Minkoff.
The largest island in French Polynesia, located somewhere in the South Pacific in the archipelago of the Society island. The island of mesmerizing lagoons, mountainous terrain, black sand beaches and impeccable beauty. But what many of you do not know is that beneath all that grandeur lays a rich historical and cultural heritage, years of war and divine legends that make the Tahitian culture and its people so majestic.
The Tahitians or commonly known as Maohis are one of the most important indigenous Polynesian people of Oceania. This island was originally settled by Polynesians somewhere between 300 and 800 CE. Before becoming a French colony in 1880, Tahitians were divided into three major classes: ari’i, ra’atira and manahune. Until the first contact with Europeans, it is said that his island held no more than 40.000 natives. After the French annexation it was not until 1946 that native Tahitians were legally authorised to become French citizens. This is why the official language in Tahiti is French, but Reo Tahiti is still alive to this day among its natives.
Before the Christian influence was passed down, the native people of Tahiti worshiped many gods that were mostly focused on one supreme deity and other lesser gods and individual spirits. Of course they held many religious ceremonies that were mostly carried out in their sanctuaries called Marae, performed by religious practitioners, priests or chiefs who conducted formal rituals. There were also other priests who were more of spiritual guides, from whom was believed that gods were talking through and offered oracular advice. One of the most sacred places for these people is the island of Tetiaroa where many of their ritual gatherings occurred. What is very interesting is that this island was later on bought by the famous actor Marlon Brando, wishing to preserve its natural splendour and biodiversity.
Music and Traditional Dance
Following ancient traditions and beliefs, till this day, native Tahitians indulge in their traditional dances and music which are based on thunderous drums and conch shells. In ancient times, Tahitians danced to express their current emotions, so accordingly they would dance for joy and happiness, or for an arrival of a guest, or in most cases to please the gods. One of the most important events on Tahiti in the last 122 years is the annual Heiva festival. Here you might witness some of their celebratory dance performances, sports competitions or some of their magnificent handicrafts.
Source – Flickr Pabak Sarkar
Arts And Crafts
The pristine skills that were passed down by generations of Tahitian people are alive till this day, keeping the traditions live for thousands of years. Most of these crafts include carved items, wooden sculptures and bowls, tapa, drums or hand dyed pareu. What is also interesting is that the word tattoo originated in French Polynesia. In Tahitian culture, tattoos were considered a sign of grave beauty and were applied when a person would reach its adolescent years.
It would be a shame not to mention that aboriginal people of Tahiti were excellent navigators and that they mastered the act of building extraordinary canoes. The original society was based on Stone Age technology and like that, they had to rely on their building skills to explore the ocean using only the stars and the winds as their navigation system. Till this day, canoes are still an everyday part of Tahitian lifestyle, using it not only for their practical needs but also for festivals throughout the islands and organized races.
SO! We hope to have convinced you to have an amazing time and choose a Tahiti holiday of your dreams! Most of you know this majestic island for its beauty. But now you know that this island holds much more than just plain appeal – it holds history, people, culture and thousands years old tradition, which lives to this very day. We hope now you have a reason more to visit this magnificent place on Earth.