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The Giant Gods






Category: IN THE PACIFIC

Source: Myths & Legends Of Our New Possessions & Protectorate

Gods and demi-gods as vast as their mountains are celebrated in the
traditionary chants of the Hawaiians. While the largest island in the
group seems to have been their favorite residence, it was the easiest
thing imaginable to move, since they had only to step on board of
their enchanted canoes and make a wish and they were at once wafted
to any port they desired. A few of them did not need any canoes:
they were of such height they could step from island to island,
and could wade through the deepest oceans without submerging their
heads. Kana would often straddle from Kauai to Oahu, like a colossus
of Rhodes, and when a king of Kahiki, who was keeper of the sun,
undertook to deprive the people of it, because of some slight, Kana
waded across the sea and forced that king to behave himself instanter;
then, having seen the light properly placed in the sky, he spread
his breech-clout over a few acres of volcano to dry, and took a nap
on a mile or so of lava bed. This deity had the power of compressing
himself into a small space, and likewise of pulling himself out to
any desired length, like an accordion, so that there was not water
in the eight seas deep enough to drown him.

And Maui, the demi-god, was even more tremendous in his bulk. Whales
were his playthings, and sharks were minnows beside him. He had to
swim in water that reached only to his waist, because there was no
deeper, and even then his head was circled by clouds. He had a wife
of an immensity comparable to his own. Once, while busily beating
out a piece of bark-cloth, the sun sank low before she had finished
her task. Like the excellent housewife that she was, she did not wish
the day to end on work unfinished, so, at her request, Maui reached
out into the west, seized the sun, without burning his fingers much,
pulled it back to noon and held it there for two or three hours while
the making of the cloth proceeded. Then it resumed its journey through
the heavens, and has kept excellent time ever since.





Next: The First Fire

Previous: Ancient Faiths Of Hawaii



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