In the ancient society, for each act, a cosmogonic ritual was necessary, a conciliation with the divine forces. The construction and the use of a canoe could not avoid those rules and prohibitions

Specialists who was in charge of the construction of a canoe had a double function:

  • To ensure that the work was flawless and to make sure that the process of the construction follows the same movements that were transmitted since the origin of time, so that the construction was in concordance with the myth.

An example of its relation to the divine was when a canoe was especially made to cary the fare tini atua (house of the gods) to a marae from another, it then become a receptacle of those gods.

Also, the structure of the marae included a fare va’a (house for canoes) and a similarity of shapes can be found between the va’a and the inverted hull placed at the top of the fare tini atua.

  1. Sacred canoe on wich was placed the fare tini atua. Drawing of G. Tobin, 1792, Mitchell Library.
  2. Marae of Taputapuatea at Pare. Tahiti, 1792, in the background a fare va’a ra’a and a fare atua. Drawinff of G. Tobin, Mitchell Library.
  3. Fare tini atua from a marae of Huahine. Watercolor of J. Webber, British Library.


Fare atua. Drawing of S. Parkinson, British Library.


Sacred canoe. Drawing of W. Blight, Mitchell Library.