Monday, January 30, 2017

Tiny stop in Tuvalu (Following folktales around the world 10. - Tuvalu)

Today I continue new blog series titled Following folktales around the world! If you would like to know what the series is all about, you can find the introduction post here. You can find all posts under the Following Folktales label, or you can follow the series on Facebook!

Today, we arrive to Polynesia - and also to the first stop on the journey where I could not find a whole published folktale collection. I read two articles instead. 

Four folk tales from the Ellice Islands
R. G. Roberts
The Journal of the Polynesian Society 66/4 (1957), pp. 365-373.

TE ATU TUVALU: A short history of the Ellice Islands
R. G. Roberts
The Journal of the Polynesian Society 67/4 (1958), pp. 394-423.

Both articles were written back when Tuvalu was still called the Ellice Islands, and under a British protectorate. Atu Tuvalu, according to one of them literally means "cluster of eight", because even though the group is made up of nine islands, one of them was uninhabited at the time. The first article contains four folktales; the second begins with a historical introduction, and then uses indigenous oral history and legends to describe the discovery and population of the islands, the voyages their inhabitants took, the family trees of their chiefs, and their pre-colonial history in general. The texts are full of names and places, and inhabitants of nearby islands, such as Samoa and Tonga, also make a frequent appearance.


This could also go under Connections, but I really liked the tale that told about a boy and his special relationship to the Moon. As a baby, he would only sleep if he was put out in the moonlight; as he grew older, he decided that he wanted to live with the Moon. His father and his men boarded a ship with the boy and sailed to the edge of the ocean where the Moon rises, passing all kinds of magical islands. As the Moon rose, the father tossed the boy up - you can still see him in the shapes on the full moon's surface.
Another enchanting story was that of Sinafakalua and Sinafofolangi története - two girls who were best friends, despite one being the daughter of the Sun and the Sky, and the other the daughter of a man-eating giant. They played together until one day the giant father caught them at it, and ate the girl from the sky. Seeing his daughter's despair, however, he regretted his deed, threw up the other girl, and brought her back to life.


Not related to the tales, but look
how cool Tuvalu's coinage is
Once again I found a folktale where a shape-shifting spirit took the place of a wife, while the true wife gave birth to her children on a distant island, in exile. It was especially amusing that the spirit swallowed rocks to appear to be pregnant... Once again there was a sky-high tree, except here people were fleeing up on it and not down, peeing down as they went to make the tree slippery and impossible for the witch (who was chasing them) to climb.

Where to next?


  1. Hi, I am your newest follower, found your post on Arlee Birds A to Z Challenge.
    I really enjoyed reading your blog, as a poet (well I dabble at it) people who write books to me are awesome.
    Thank you for all you do for the A to Z Challenge, did you know I was the very first person to sign up on Lee's first Challenge back in 2010. Good luck with this year's Challenge.

    1. Hello! Welcome to the blog and welcome back to the challenge! :)

  2. Wow. I'd never even heard of Tuvalu.