Maui





In Polynesian mythology, Maui was a powerful trickster god best known for creating the Pacific islands. A son of the god Tangaroa and a woman, he performed many deeds to improve the lives of humans, such as making the sky higher and the day longer. Endowed with magical powers, this small but exceedingly strong god and culture hero tried but did not succeed in achieving immortality.

Maui created the islands while out on a fishing trip with his brothers. First he fashioned a magic fishing hook from his grandmother's jawbone. Then, as his brothers looked on, Maui cast the hook into the water and began to pull up from the ocean floor the islands on which the Polynesians now live.

On another occasion Maui was out walking and came upon a girl who complained that the sky was so low it kept falling on her and preventing her from doing her chores. Eager to impress the girl, Maui pushed hard and succeeded in raising the sky

In order to give people more hours of daylight to tend their gardens, cook their food, and make cloth, Maui made the days longer. With the help of his brothers, he caught the sun in a net and beat it with his grandmother's magic jawbone. The sun was so bruised and bloodied by this battering that from that time on it could only limp slowly across the sky.

trickster mischievous figure appearing in various forms in the folktales and mythology of many different peoples

culture hero mythical figure who gives people the tools of civilization, such as language and fire

immortality ability to live forever

Maui tried to become immortal by tricking Hina, the goddess of death, as she lay sleeping. He crawled into her body and tried to pass through it, but the goddess was awakened by the call of a bird and promptly crushed Maui to death.

See also Polynesian Mythology ; Tricksters .



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