Resources on Polynesian myth.
February 11, 2013 12:25 AM   Subscribe

For a friend: I’m writing about a fictional, Polynesian-inspired trickster god for a game. What are some resources I can consult so my storylines are respectful and grounded in authentic myth? Ideally, these sources will be fun to read as well.
posted by cthuljew to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Sacred Texts website has the myths involving Maui, the Polynesian trickster. Also, here are their trickster myths. The full set of Polynesian myths available on that website is linked here.
posted by Houstonian at 2:01 AM on February 11, 2013

I am completely clueless about Polynesia, but I just searched through and I stumbled upon the 19th century "Polynesian Researches" by William Ellis. Many rituals are described and the way this is all written down, it seems like something straight out of the "Cloud Atlas". Not exactly answering your question, but enough inspiration for some 'couleur locale' while you write.
posted by ouke at 5:58 AM on February 11, 2013

I think I may be able to help you out with this one.

I'll assume you don't have institutional access to any journals, and so your one-stop shop for all things Polynesian is here: The Journal of the Polynesian Society. There's a moratorium on the most recent issues, but you can search and read the full text of the journal from 1892 to about 2011, I think.

"Maui and god" or "trickster" are good starting terms for their search page, but if I were you I'd use the advanced search form and plug in "Luomala" in the author field to get back her stuff first. See what she's said on Polynesian mythology and move out from there -- and if you can get a copy of her book on Maui, then you can probably stop there, because she's still the best game in town when it comes to writing about him.

But, if you just want to stick with internet sources for now, search the JPS. Their earliest articles are basically just Europeans publishing oral mythologies from Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia, and you'll surely find some good stuff in there.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that while there are broad similarities between certain aspects of mythology through most of Polynesia, there are many many differences, and that referring to a monolithic Polynesian mythology is about as problematic as referring to a monolithic European mythology. That doesn't mean you can't find some fun and interesting stuff to work with, but that you should be careful about writing respectfully because if you're taking aspects from (say) Maori conceptions of Maui and then fusing it with Samoan myths, you're combining cultures separated by a few thousand years and countless large and small changes. So if you're going for a Polynesian-inspired thing, be careful. Even though there are many similarities, Tongan myths isn't Samoan myths isn't Maoris myth isn't Hawaiian myths isn't Tahitian myth etc. etc. etc. Basically, try not to repeat Lego's "Bionicle" debacle.

Finally, if you find anything really cool, share it with us!
posted by barnacles at 7:00 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

« Older How many viruses could we eradicate?   |   What species is this spider? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.