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In Tuamotuan mythology, the original moving sky space, a shapeless being. Atea was made into the sky god and Fa'ahotu became his wife. According to one legend, the first-born of Fa'ahotu was the magician Tahu, but he died of starvation when nursed on her flat bosom. As other children followed this short path to the grave, Atea and Fa'ahotu exchanged sexes and the sky was the father-mother who suckled the young.

One of the great conflict myths in Polynesia was the struggle between Atea and Tane-mahuta, which the Maoris conceived of as the separation of the sky father from the earth mother, Rangi and Papa respectively. The Tuamotu islanders believed that Atea tried to capture the young god Tane, and sent a host of lesser deities after him. After Tane escaped from his pursuers on earth and wandered the clouds, he became so hungry that he killed and ate one of his ancestors, which was the beginning of cannibalism. On reaching manhood, Tane declared war on the sky god and, using the thunderbolts of his ancestor Fatu-tiri, ‘thunder’, he slew Atea. One of the dynasties of the Tuamotu archipelago claimed descent from the overthrown ruler of the sky.

Subjects: Religion.

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