Tapu and Its Relevance During the Tangihanga

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  • Topic: God, Marae, Death
  • Pages : 4 (1280 words )
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  • Published : September 13, 2012
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Describe tapu and comment on its relevance during the tangihanga using a detailed example.

Māori have numerous cultural concept and tapu, which means restricted or forbidden, is one of the most important. On its own, it has many meanings and references. It does not just mean forbidden or restricted, it is also defined as sacred, as it is associated with the Māori belief that it comes from the creators. It is used to put restrictions around the environment and the people. Mana (power, authority) also comes from the creators. For that reason, mana and tapu are closely linked to each other. For having an opposite meaning, noa (unrestricted, ordinary) comes hand in hand with the concept tapu. Tapu is also strongly related to tangihanga (funeral) when someone has ceased.

According to ancient traditions, tapu is said to have come from the atua (gods). It has existed in creation, when the two gods created by Io (Supreme God), the god of the sky (Ranganui) and Papatūānuku, the god of the earth have conceived offspring . All of their children have inherited tapu from their mother and father. The children of the gods have gone their separate ways to become gods themselves. The atua offspring have divided tapu to all men to set as a law to lead them for correct relationships amongst the people, the spirit realm and their universe (Tapu uncovered, 2000). Everything that the gods have created has tapu, as it has come from their breathe, their touch and power. According to Barlow (1991:128), "tapu is the power and influence of the gods".

Additionally, mankind being made by the god (Tāne mahuta) has tapu. However, some men have stronger tapu than others. So heavier law have to be followed by those who have the highest tapu. Men will always have tapu flowing in their blood as long as they are not slaves. Surprisingly enough, only highborn women have tapu. As well as the ones in childbirth and those in their menstruation cycle (Schwimmer 1974:20). The people...
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