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FESTIVAL OF ALL THE IDOLS OF HUAHINE.

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for the Lord of Hosts. The idol, a huge, mis-shapen block of wood, was about the height and bulk of a very tall and stout man; but, like many of his fraternity here (“the gods made with hands”), by the bungling of the artist, he was one of those 6 whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,” there being no separation of those parts above; whilst below, the uncouth body terminated in a point (without legs) like a cone inverted. It had likewise the usual mockeries to represent eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and arms; but these were “most lame and impotent conclusions” of such matters. The whole was covered with cinet, or platted twine, made from the fibres of the cocoanut husk.

At this marae, once a year, when the kings and priests thought proper, there was what might be called a national assembly and festival held. Hither all the idols of Huahine were brought from their various temples to be clothed with new dresses and ornaments. On this occasion Tani was laid on the middle of his bed, having the gods of four districts placed on his right hand, and the gods of four other districts, into which the island was divided, on his left. The chiefs stood in rows opposite to their own divinities, and the priests round Tani, as lord over them all. Various antic ceremonies having been performed, and prayers offered, the images were stripped of their old vestments. Many of these wooden stocks, being hollow, were filled with beautiful feathers and other precious trinkets, which were also brought out, and either renewed or replaced. None but men were allowed to attend this anniversary. One who had often been present assured us that, on these occasions, a quantity of ava, for the purpose of making a detestable intoxicating liquor, nearly as large as the marae itself in bulk, used to be collected, besides provisions

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EXCESSES AT IDOL-FESTIVALS.

in an immense quantity, eighty or a hundred hogs, also, were slaughtered and roasted to entertain the multitudes that were attracted hither by their devotion to the gods and their love of good cheer. The feast lasted three days, and was a season of gluttony, drunkenness, and debauchery of every kind. The priests themselves were often so intoxicated as to be unable to repeat their devotional addresses in the required posture; they would then grovel upon the ground, like swine, muttering and hiccuping their incantations. While this carnival lasted, no fire was allowed to be lighted, nor labour to be performed, throughout the island. At the close of the ceremonies, a particular god, called Maavai, was brought forth, stripped and gutted like the rest, when immediately, they say, it began to rain tremendously. This was the signal for the removal of all the new-clad idols to their respective maraes. No female was permitted to approach one of these sacred edifices on pain of death, which was instantly inflicted by whoever witnessed the sacrilege. Nay, such was the cruel and remorseless proscription of the sex from religious rites or privileges, that if the wives or children of the priests themselves came within a certain distance, while they were engaged in some particular services, they were murdered on the spot, even by their husbands and fathers, with the most desperate ferocity.

Jan. 5. We proceeded on our coasting cruise, to-day, sailing through a strait, no wider than the Thames, which divides the motu from the main land. Though little more than a mile in length, the passage presented us with most gratifying prospects on either hand. On the right lay a lovely low island overflowing (if we may use the expression) with verdure to the water's edge, and displaying a rich variety of the most luxuriant vegetation, from the

EXTENSIVE LAGOON.

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gigantic cocoa-nut to the common grass, running riot in the fertility of its sea-formed soil. On our left the Sacred Mountain towered up to the firmament, of which, in some aspects, it seemed a pillar, so shapely, so stately, and lofty, were its proportions. The relics of maraes—the worst works of man—and some of the most beautiful, sublime, and beneficent of the works of God—the everlasting hills and the forests of fruit-trees,-presented their melancholy piles of tumbled stones, at brief intervals, exciting horror in respect to the past, and gratitude for the present state of the people of these terrestrial paradises to the eye. Of these ruins we counted ten within the circuit of view from our boat, some on the flat shore, others on the declivities, and others in the recesses of the valleys. Several stone walls, of rough blocks, were built in this small channel for the purpose of catching fish. These are composed of loose materials, broad at the base, narrowing towards the top, and even with the surface of the water. These rude dams are curved, and constitute inclosures, or pinfolds, into which the natives drive the fish from the open water and there take them with facility.

At the extremity, the strait, through which we had been delightfully sailing and singing hymns as we sailed, suddenly opened into a large oval lake, of which the motu formed one side and the high cliff of Huahine the other. This splendid lagoon, now as smooth as a mirror, we ascertained to be five miles in length by one wide. The scenery around forbids description ; exemplifying all the varieties of natural grandeur and vegetable affluence to be found in these tropical climes and insular situations. A small village and chapel at length fixed our eyes, which nothing else but the traces of man (always pre-eminently interesting to us) could long detain, where such bewildering glories of the inanimate creation met us, surrounded and

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EXTRAORDINARY AOA TREE.

pursued us, on every side. We were informed that this was the most renowned place in all Huahine, having been, from generation to generation, the abode of the kings, and, consequently, the metropolis of the kingdom.

We landed to examine a famous marae, and also a far more famous tree, which may be regarded as the most extraordinary natural production of these islands ; indeed, we gazed upon it with overwhelming astonishment. This tree is called aoa by the natives. The trunk is composed of a multitude of stems grown together, and exhibiting a most fantastical appearance from the numerous grooves, which run vertically up the bole, and are of such depth that a transverse section would rudely resemble the axle and spokes of a wheel without rim. The girth, near the foot, is seventy feet. From the height of eight feet, and onward to forty, immense branches proceed, in nearly horizontal lines, on every hand; from which, as from similar trees which we have seen and already described, perpendicular shoots tend downward, till they reach the ground, take root, and become columns of the “pillared shade.” More than forty of these we counted, standing like a family of earthborn giants about their enormous parent. A circle drawn round all these auxiliary stems measured a hundred and thirty-two feet in circumference; while a circle embracing the utmost verge of their lateral ramifications was not less than four hundred and twenty feet. The upper stories (if such we may call them) of this multiform tree, presented yet more singular combinations of intersecting and intertwisting boughs, like Gothic arches, oriels, and colonnades, propped, as by magic, in mid-air. These were occasionally massy or light, and every where richly embellished with foliage, through which the flickering sunshine gleamed in long rays, that lost themselves in the immensity of the inte

ANCIENT BURIAL-PLACE OF KINGS.

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rior labyrinth, or danced in bright spots upon the ground black with the shadows of hundreds of branches, rising tier above tier, and spreading range beyond range, aloft and around. The height of this tree (itself a forest) cannot be less than eighty feet. It stands so near the lagoon that some of its boughs overhang the waters. Not far from its site there is a Christian chapel, and a pagan marae hard by, where the sovereigns of Huahine were buried-and where, indeed, they lay in more than oriental state, each one resting in his bed, at the foot of the Sacred Mountain, beneath the umbrage of the magnificent aoa, and near the beach for ever washed by waters that roll round the world, and spend themselves here after visiting every other shore between the poles. The great marae itself was dedicated to Tani, the father of the gods here; but the whole ground adjacent was marked with the vestiges of smaller maraes— private places for worship and family interment—while this was the capital of the island, and the head-quarters of royalty and idolatry. On the limbs of the tree already described there is reason to believe that thousands of human sacrifices have been hung. One low bough, of great length and bulk, was pointed out to us as having been the principal gibbet for such victims, century after century. The tree itself was sacred to Tani; but he has been expelled hence, and for ages to come, under the shadow of this prodigy of vegetation, it is to be hoped that “ incense and a pure offering”. the incense of prayer, and the pure offering of bodies, presented as “ living sacrifices”-will continue to be made here to the true God, by more of his spiritual worshippers than Satan had of his deluded votaries in all the times gone by. On this ground we could not help thinking how many bloody rites had been performed, and what wickedness had been wrought, without interruption from one warning voice, or

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