After a long voyage and many islands, today we arrive to New Zealand.
Maori myths, tales and legends
Kiri Te Kanawa
Arcade Publishers, 1990.
This time I diverged from reading heavy folklore publications, and picked a picture book instead. I was intrigued by this volume, written by opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa who wanted to preserve the Maori legends she heard from her father and family as a child. I kept running into this book as I searched for stories, and I finally decided to read it. It was a good choice.
The volume itself is gorgeous, with full-page color illustrations. Kiri wrote down the tales as she remembered them (showing off oral tradition in action), but each one comes with a short note explaining some of the folkloric details, and how her telling might be different from the tradition. The nineteen stories are all beautifully written and exciting; so much so that I was having a really hard time trying to pick a favorite.
|There was a movie in 1914|
There were two monster-killing legends in the book; the monsters were called taniwha, and they resembled water-dragons. There was even a mention of warriors who were expert taniwha-hunters. One of the monsters could actually talk, and if someone scratched its back, it was even willing to negotiate - but the tales usually ended with the taniwha's death anyway.
|Picture from here|
Once again, we got to visit the Underworld, and see where spirits go after people die. Some residents of this world were friendly, while others were... not so much. Some of them occasionally married mortals, and/or had children with them.
All in all, it was a lovely book, with a lot of great stories. I highly recommend it.
Where to next?
Next week, we reach Australia!