Article Title

The Birds of Paradise


Georgia Lee


Whilst the fleet of canoes o'er the ocean are paddled The flocks of gods are above in the heavens flying. -Maori song; Beckwith 1970:90

In the ocean world of Polynesia, birds-especially seabirds- played an important symbolic role, and had enormous influence on the ancient seafarers of the Pacific. In both myth and cult, the bird theme is the most widespread, but least understood, of the symbolic elements found throughout Polynesia (Handy 1940:323). Many studies in the past have connected birds with visual images found throughout Oceania.