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The mask of TUTEPOGANUI 2020
The mask of Tutepoganui is said to have originated in the Tuamotu archipelago and more particularly in the island of Hikueru. It was reported by Eugène Auguste Charles Caillot in 1900. The French historian who travelled the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu and society islands collected a mine of discoveries which allowed him to publish from 1909, his studies on the history of Polynesia.

The object, made from coconut wood, measures 46x31x31 cm and decorated with wood imitations of mother-of-pearl, would have been sculpted by mangarevan people. What makes the mask special is that it is a contemporary object that has undergone the European and religious influence of the missionaries, thus mixing ancestral Polynesian cultures with western theatre.

Later Mr Caillot donated it to Brother Alain (Joseph Guitton). This Catholic, who arrived in Tahiti in 1879, devoting his life to education at the brothers' school in Papeete, had dedicated a piece of the school to a museum of ethnography and natural history, made up of Polynesian objects. It was not until 1917 that Brother Alain donated it to the Papeete Museum and then it was transferred to the Tahiti and Islands Museum.

The mask was worn by fishermen to tell legends of the king of the sea Tutepoganui. The villagers gather around a fire, on the main square of the village at nightfall, on a musical background of big drum, thus adding drama to the story.

The play tells that Tutepoganui, went out of the Ruahatu (depth of the seas), accompanied by all the shells had come to the island of Vavau to order Tohoropuga who had deserted the sea, to deliver his subjects, the turtle and the whale. Tutepoganui
then meets Hina, accompanied by his dog, who tells him his misadventure. Hunted by her husband Tuna, was saved by Maui who cut off the head of the beast. Hina became Maui’s wife but she fell in love with the beautiful Ri. Then Maui, filled with anger,
turned Ri into a dog and abandoned Hina. She lived alone with her dog. Tutepoganui grieved for Ri, left the earth after having pardoned Tohoropuga and the people of the earth for having delivered his subjects.

Fare Rata, the Polynesian Post Office, is happy to be able to tell you the legend of Tutepoganui and its mysterious mask.

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Unit price: 180 FCFP (1,51 €)
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