This legend is from New Zealand
where I grew up.
Because the land consists of two elongated islands there is a huge coastline and people are close to the sea, which is shown in this legend.
Polynesian culture is still alive there: many schoolchildren are taught the Maori language.
Ancestral figures. Supporting central pillar of traditional house on shore of Lake Taupo.
Otago Museum: Michael de Hamel. Illustrated encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend: Margaret Orbell.
Though Polynesian legends come from a stone-age culture which developed independent of western culture, they employ a symbolic language which is universal. They make astute psychological observations - we have to look carefully at laconic details because they are full of meaning.
Hinauri's legend was compiled from several independent transcripts made in New Zealand between 1840 and 1880.
When her first husband was killed, Hinauri cast herself into the sea. She drifted to another island, had barnacles scraped from her body, married a handsome chief and killed his other wives, thus releasing from their bodies greenstone, which the Maoris used for sacred ornamental carvings.
Yoni and Lingam, symbols of Shiva. Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia.
Photo: Christian Juni, blog.tirawa.com, 2011.
Hinauri finds her second husband
[Hinauri's first husband was Irawaru; Hinauri's brother was the trickster hero, Maui. Irawaru angered Maui by catching more fish than Maui when they went out together in an outrigger canoe.]
Outrigger canoe. Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea.
... And so they paddled back to the beach. As they got there a wave threw them slightly to one side and on to some rocks, and they needed to get the outrigger over these in order to get in. Maui, always accustomed to giving orders, said to his brother-in-law: 'Jump out and put your back under the float and lift it, will you?' And Irawaru did so.
As soon as Irawaru was stooping under the weight of the outrigger and was at a disadvantage among the rocks, Maui ran out on the cross-beams and jumped up and down on the outrigger - Irawaru crumpled under it, and Maui practically killed him. If he did not crush him to death he nearly drowned him. When Irawaru was nearly done for, Maui slipped down and trampled on his body, and lengthened his backbone, and by his enchantments drew it out like a tail. And he transformed Irawaru into a dog, and made him eat some nasty filth. Then he began to feel satisfied. This dog was the first of all dogs.
War speach (detail). New Zealand Maori warriors with Maori dog; Augustus Earle 1838.
After this, Maui dragged the canoe to the beach and put everything straight, and went home.
When he reached the village there was his sister Hinauri, waiting for her husband. She ran up and asked Maui where he was. 'I left him down at the canoe,' said Maui, calmly. 'If you don't see him,' Maui said, 'try calling "Moi moi! Moi, moi'' - like that.' And he made the sound by which our people call their dogs.
So Hinauri ran down to the canoe and, not seeing Irawaru anywhere about, she called his name. Then, remembering what Maui had said, she called out 'Moi, moi! Moi, moi!' Irawaru, who had been snuffling about in the bushes above the beach, recognised her voice then and came running and barking, 'Ao, ao! ao, ao!' And he frisked and jumped about her, and wagged his tail, and followed her all the way back to the village.
Casting herself into the sea
Poor Hinauri, when she realised that her husband had been turned into a dog by Maui, was overcome with grief. It was all she could do to walk to the village. She wept the whole way, and the dog ran around her and waited for her along the track with its tail waggng. She went straight into her house without speaking to anyone, and took an enchanted belt that was hers and put it on, and walked back to the sea by the very path which only a little while before she had run down so gladly. All she wanted was to die, as soon as possible. When she got to the beach she sat down on the rocks for a while and wept, and her tears became part of the waves. And after repeating an incantation that was used by people whose grief made them long for death, she threw herself off the rocks, and the tide swept Hinauri out to sea.
Ocean waves. Southern Ocean, Antarctica.
Photo: Maria Stenzel. ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/oceans/Southern Ocean
But Hinauri did not drown. Because of the enchanted girdle she was wearing she floated about for many months...
Woman's girdle. Hibiscus bast, dyed red and blue. Samoa, Polynesia.
National Museum of Scotland.
... [floated] until her body was all encrusted with barnacles and seaweed ...
Grey whale's face encrusted with barnacles.
... and in this condition she was washed ashore at a place where she was found by two brothers, whose names were Ihu atamai and Ihu wareware, meaning Handsome-nose and Stupid-nose.
They found her lying on the beach and thought she must be dead, but they lifted her up and carried her to their house. They removed the seaweed and barnacles, and when she had been scraped and rinsed they looked on her with pleasure, and for a time she lived as a wife between them both.
They inquired her name, but she did not tell them. She made them call her Ihu ngarupaea, or Stranded-nose.
Seal sleeping. Beach on King George Island, Antarctica.
Photo: Copyright David Adler, www.davidadlerphotography.com
Now these brothers were members of the tribe of Tinirau, a very great chief of those times, who was celebrated for his handsome looks, and for his vanity. Tinirau, who lived on an island named Motutapu, or Sacred Isle, had a number of pools filled with clear water which he used as looking-glasses when he wished to admire himself.
He also had a school of small whales, or possibly dolphins, who would answer to his call and perform their lively antics just off shore for his amusement.
Dolphins. Orange Beach, Alabama.
Photo: Cal Britton.
Hinauri and Tinirau's beauty
The fame of this chief awoke in Hinauri a strong desire to see him; and word of Hinauri's beauty soon reached Tinirau. Hinauri soon grew tired of living with the two brothers, and having heard so much of Tinirau's noble qualities she made up her mind that she would like him for a husband.
Hinauri becomes a fish
One day, therefore, when she was out with the women of the village gathering mussels at low tide, she assumed the form of a fish and disappeared. She swam underwater to Motutapu.
Fish swimming. Akumal, Mexico
On the shore of that island she resumed her former shape and sat down to dry her hair.
While she was combing it [her hair] she gave some thought to the best way of meeting Tinirau.
Tahitian Women Bathing (detail) . Gauguin, 1892
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Knowing of his great vanity, and of the four pools he used for mirrors, she decided to wait for him at the pools, and to attract attention to herself by splashing about when he came to use them.
The stranded shark
On her way along the beach she came to a stranded shark, of the kind whose teeth were prized as ear pendants. 'O fish!' she said, 'you are not the messenger of Tinirau,' and she squatted over it, and went on her way feeling better.
Then she saw a stranded whale and said, 'O whale, 'you are not the messenger of Tinirau,' and squatted over it too, and again went on her way feeling better.
But when she found a repo, or stingray, on the sand, she took off her skirt, which was all she had on, and laid it on the point of the repo. She felt ready then for the meeting with Tinirau, and made her way inland to the pools.
The Polynesian legend Hina and the Eel serves to amplify.
Hina took an eel as her lover. Later she cut of its head with a sacred adze. She buried its head beside her house and the head grew into a palm tree. Much of the technology and the resources of her island culture were based upon that palm tree.
[After masturbating] she felt ready then for the meeting with Tinirau, and made her way inland to the pools.
Rain forest pool. Belize, Central America.
Photo: Rhet Butler, c mongabay.com
Now Tinirau was so particular about these pools that he had had some wicker fences built around them, and kept a pair of owls whose duty it was to perch in a high tree near his house and let him know if anyone went near them. Their names were Ruru mahara, or Thoughtful-owl, and Ruru wareware, or Stupid-owl.
When Hinauri broke into one of the pools, Thoughtful-owl flew down to Tinirau arid said: 'The pools, the reflecting waters of Tinirau, have been destroyed.'
'No such thing,' said Stupid-owl, who had flown there too. Not true!'
Hinauri and the owls
Illustration: Maori Myths and Tribal Legends, Anthony Alpers. Longman Paul, 1964.
So Tinirau ordered them to fly over to the pools and make sure. They returned, and Thoughtful-owl told Tinirau that the enclosures had been knocked down, and there was a man in the water. 'It's all lies,' said Stupid-owl. 'Those words are fiction!'
'You two stay here,' said Tinirau impatiently, and got up. 'I'll go and see for myself.' And he went to the pools, in a very bad mood.
Tinirau and the Lady
Hinauri saw him coming, and greeted him in a charming fashion. He returned her greeting, and was so surprised that he sat down beside her, in a good mood now.
Arthur receives Excalibur.
Illustration: Daniel Maclise, In Alfred Tennyson: Poems London: Moon, 1857
'When you go out fishing, do you always catch something?' said Hinauri shyly, to make conversation.
'No, I catch nothing,' Tinirau answered untruthfully, while admiring her lovely hair and her soft brown eyes.
'When you pull up your line do you always find your hook and sinker still there?' asked Hinauri, who was watching the mud squeeze up between her toes.
Woman's toes in water
'No,' said Tinirau, who had snapped off a piece of grass and was pulling it, 'I always find my hook and sinker gone.'
And he fell in love with Hinauri there and then, and they walked away to a place where they lay down under Tinirau's cloak.
The jealous wives
Now Tinirau already had two wives. Their Maori names were long hut their meanings were The Enraged One and The Jealous One. When these wives heard that Tinirau had met a young woman by the pools and had not since come home, they summoned Thoughtful-owl and Stupid-owl and sent them to find out what was happening. The owls flew off, and came back after a while.
'Well,' said the wives, 'what did you see?'
'We saw two heads and four feet,' said Thoughtful-owl.
'All fiction,' said Stupid-owl. 'Not true!'
Tinirau and Hinauri remained together. Meanwhile, Tinirau's other two wives became jealous of Hinauri.
In due course Hinauri went to the village and gave birth to a child, who was the son of Ihu atamai. After that they called her names, and accused her of stealing their husband, and when the baby was a few days old they came to see Hinauri.
'You will need to mind how you behave to your sisters-in-law,' said Tinirau before they arrived, but Hinauri answered: 'If they come in anger it will be evil.
The two wives came, and Hinauri stood up, holding in her hand the piece of obsidian with which her baby's navel-cord had been cut. One of the wives had a weapon with her. But Hinauri had time to utter a powerful incantation, which called on the god named Whiro, one of the lesser sons of Rangi and Papa, and a killer of men. These were the words:
Loud sounds the stone,
sharp pain is the stone,
to strike at the seat of life is the stone,
to strike the brain is the stone.
Behold, the stone rings out,
behold, the stone will destroy,
the stone of Whiro te tupua,
spirit even of thee, the man-destroyer.
Wiremu Kingi. Aged Maori warrior.
Gottfried Lindauer: oil on canvas, late 19th C.
As she uttered this spell Hinauri threw the piece of obsidian at the two wives, who fell on their backs and died...
[the jealous wives died] and their bodies burst open where the stone had struck them, and were seen to be filled with greenstone.
Then Hinauri called out to her husband: 'Look, here are your sinkers that you thought you'd lost!'
In this way greenstone was formed, the hard green jade of which the Maori made their most precious ornaments, such as ear pendants, and the tiki that is hung from the neck, and adzes, and even the war club known as mere, when pieces large enough could be obtained.
Copyright National Army Museum, Waiouru collection, New Zealand.
Hinauri and Rupe
But the story does not end here:
In time Hinauri became pregnant again and Tinirau treated her harshly. After she had given birth to Tinirau's son, Hinauri called upon her brother to rescue her. Maui came to her as Rupe, the pigeon, and they flew together back to her homeland. Out of pity for Tinirau, she let her baby fall down to him.
Rupe and Hinauri ascend, dropping her baby for Tinirau
Illustration: Maori Myths and Tribal Legends, Anthony Alpers. Longman Paul, 1964.