Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": THE CREATION OF WOMAN FROM THE EARTH- MOTHER


To produce man it was therefore necessary for the god Tane, the Fertilizer, to fashion in human form a figure of earth upon the Earth Mother's body, and to vivify it. This event transpired in the following way. (The account, according to Best, is 'rendered as given by an old native'):

Tane proceeded to the puke (Mons Veneris) of Papa [the Earth] and there fashioned in human form a figure in the earth. His next task was to endow that figure with life, with human life, life as known to human beings, and it is worthy of note that, in the account of this act, he is spoken of as Tane te waiora. It was the sun light fertilizing the Earth Mother. Implanted in the lifeless image were the wairua (spirit) and manawa ora (breath of life), obtained from Io, the Supreme Being. The breath of Tane was directed upon the image, and the warmth affected it. The figure absorbed life, a faint life sigh was heard, the life spirit manifested itself, and Hine-ahu-one, the Earth Formed Maid, sneezed, opened her eyes, and rose-a woman.

Such was the Origin of Woman, formed from the substance of the Earth Mother, but animated by the divine Spirit that emanated from the Supreme Being, Io the great, Io of the Hidden Face, Io the Parent, and Io the Parentless.


E. S. Craighill Handy, Polynesian Religion, Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 34 (Honolulu, 1927), P. 39; quoting Elsdon Best, 'Maori Personifications,' journal of the Polynesian society, XXXII (1973), PP. 110-11

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