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Tagaro


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Oceania

In the New Hebrides, the wise and benevolent spirit hero Tagaro is opposed by Suqe-mutua, the spirit who would have all things bad. Tagaro came down from heaven, made men and other things, and went back to heaven again. Fork-headed Suqe-mutua, on the other hand, belonged to the earth, and his malevolent disposition led to his exile in a bottomless chasm, where he rules over the ghosts of the dead.

In this part of Melanesia there are various traditions concerning spirits, vui. On some islands Tagaro and his kind are held to be immortal and like men, except that they do not eat or drink. They are, however, only visible to the dead. Other islands have vui for sacred places and stones. One myth relates the profound gulf between Tagaro and Suqe-mutua over the nature of mankind. When they created men, Tagaro said they should walk on two legs, Suqe-mutua that they should go like pigs: happily, the word of Tagaro stood, and people built villages for themselves. The wife of the saviour of mankind was Vinmara, ‘web-wing’. One day Tagaro saw winged women fly down from heaven to bathe. He noticed them take off their wings, stole one pair, and hid them in his house. He then returned to the beach and found they had all flown but the wingless one, whom he married. Later the scolding of Tagaro's brothers saddened Vinmara: she went into the house and sat weeping alone, till her tears wore away the earth hiding her wings. With their aid, she flew back to heaven.

Subjects: Religion.


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