Manaia : The Divine Messenger
The manaia is regarded as a mythological creature that travels between the human world and the spirit realm. It is a prominent motif in greenstone and wood carvings, and in Mori culture, it is a symbol of communication and storytelling. Before the people of the Mori were able to speak a language, they had no written language. However, traditional songs and dances still held the stories of their ancestors. Although the exact meaning of manaia is not clear, it is widely believed that they are guardians of significant cultural and spiritual objects.
It is usually depicted as a creature with a man’s body and a fish’s tail, though it can also be depicted as a serpent or a bird. In some interpretations, it is depicted as a lizard or a seahorse. This type of figure-of-eight design is commonly used in various architectural features, such as window and door lintels and weapons.
Like the human figure, the manaia can be easily molded into various forms and is often used in combination with other symbols. It can also be distorted to create artistic works of art. This type of motif can be used to create designs that fit any space.
The word manaia is a component of the Samoan term fa’amanaia, which means “making a decoration.” This is relevant to the Niuean term fakamanaia, which literally means “making an embellishment.” The term manaia is often confused with the ceremonial pendant that is popular in the region and also with a Maori chief with the same name.
Powers and Abilities
It is believed that the manaia is the messenger between the spirits and the earthly world, and its symbol is used to protect the people from evil. This type of motif usually consists of a figure-of-eight design, with the upper half ending in a beak-like structure.
Modern Day Influence
The manaia can also be found in other cultures, such as Easter Island and Hawaii. In wood carving, the manaia can be distorted to create various designs, and it can be used to fill empty spaces. In many compositions, the background is usually composed of the manaia.
This type of motif is commonly found in Maori jewelry, and it is often worn as a pendant. The designs vary in form between different iwi, and the three-fingered symbol is often associated with death, life, and birth. A fourth finger is sometimes depicted as representing the life cycle’s rhythmic patterns and the afterlife.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Manaia?
A mythological creature in Māori culture, that is a messenger between the mortal and the spiritual worlds and a guardian against evil. It is usually depicted as having the head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of a fish or a serpent.
What is the origin of Manaia?
The origin of Manaia as a mythological creature in Māori culture is not clear, but it may be related to similar symbols in other Polynesian cultures, such as Samoa and Niue. The word manaia is cognate with the Samoan term fa’amanaia and the Niuean term fakamanaia, both meaning “to make a decoration or embellishment”.
What does the Manaia pendant mean?
Manaia pendant is a common motif in Māori carving and jewellery that represents a mythological creature that is a messenger and a guardian between the mortal and the spiritual worlds. It is usually depicted as having the head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of a fish or a serpent, symbolizing the balance between sky, earth, and sea. The Manaia pendant can also have different meanings depending on the number of fingers it has, which can represent the trinity of birth, life, and death, or the cycle of life and afterlife. The Manaia pendant is worn as a protective amulet and a connection with the ancestors.
Who is the legendary chief Manaia?
The legendary chief Manaia was a chief of the mythological land Hawaiki in Māori mythology. He was the husband of Kuiwai and the father of Haungaroa. He had a conflict with his wife’s brother Ngātoro-i-rangi, who had migrated to New Zealand. Manaia cursed Ngātoro-i-rangi, who retaliated by cursing him back and attacking him in Hawaiki. Manaia survived the attack and followed Ngātoro-i-rangi to New Zealand with an army, but he was killed by a storm sent by Tāwhirimātea, the god of wind and storms.