Facts vs Artistic License. As expressed in past articles, Ancient Polynesian history was not recorded on books as we are accustomed to today. Thousands of years of Polynesian history is embedded in names given to landmarks, family names, and oral history. This Polynesian culture was rich in artistic poetry, which naturally led to oral stories and songs infused with history over thousands of years. This artistic approach to history in Tonga is called “fananga” or “heliaki, where historical knowledge regarding plants, flowers, astronomy, the seas, the wind, and their love of life are infused into poetry and song.
Context Matters. It is not enough to have a typical understanding of the language alone in these songs via direct translation. To truly understand the history interlocked with artistic privilege, one must understand the cultural time-period of the words used, its relation to oral history, astronomical significance, and references to geographical locations. This is the great stumbling block of foreigners and academia in trying to independently decode ancient island history as they can’t navigate this culturally complex history.
A prime example of this significant error is the misunderstandings of Pulotu. The main focus of this article is to discuss the aspects of Pulotu and the prominent characters that are intertwined with Pulotu.
Pulotu is Spiritual. Pulotu is the spirit world where the spirits of people travel to the afterlife. Yes, Polynesians’ common knowledge is that we all have souls/spirits that live beyond physical death. The arrival of Christianity did not unveil a new understanding of an after-life. The Christian knowledge of the afterlife would bridge commonality between the Ancient Polynesian Religion and the New Religion of Christianity.
Throughout Polynesia, several characters have had a direct connection with Pulotu. The most prominent names connected to Pulotu are:
- Hikule’o – The god of Pulotu
- Maui & Tangaloa – Artistically referred to as gods in various songs. References of Tangaloa came from Langi and when Maui went to Pulotu and brought fire back to the mortal world.
There are several references in songs and oral history of people sailing to and from Pulotu. There are also references to the Tu’i Pulotu in Fiji, which some in the academia have inferred that there was an oral history that the Tongan civilization originates from Fiji.
We will focus on the Tongan Ancient History errors as an example of the mistakes that span throughout Polynesian Ancient History due to improper understanding of “fananga” and “heliaki.”
Kaliloa and Tano’a. My credentials are woven in my blood, my thorough education in the traditional Tongan knowledge sources commonly referred to as “Kaliloa” and “Tano’a.” It is through this background that I can effectively decipher what is factual versus artistic license.
- Pulotu is real. It is a place, but not a place found in the physical world as Pulotu is a Spiritual World and can only be understood and visited spiritually.
- Hikule’o is real. He is the God of this spirit realm, which is the same God referred to in Christianity.
- Maui & Tangaloa are real people, not Gods. Maui and Tangaloa are titles and were held by multiple people over generations.
- They were sailing to and from Pulotu is not physically real. People did not sail to and from Pulotu physically. This refers more to a spiritual journey than a physical voyage, as death is a pre-requisite to traveling to Pulotu.
- Tu’i Pulotu name originates from Tonga not Fiji. The name Tu’ipulotu originates from Tonga, two Tu’i Tonga’s were named Tu’i Pulotu. Various locations throughout Tonga are named Pulotu after the Spirit World Pulotu.The name Pulotu was used dually as a male and female names. Additionally, various locations in Tonga were named Pulotu.
- Fijian Origin of Tongan Culture is not real. There is no oral history in Tonga of our cultural origin coming from Fiji.
Two Regions of Pulotu. Tongan and Polynesian culture believe in Pulotu as a spirit world where the deceased’s spirits travel after death. Additionally, there are two conditions in Pulotu – Pulotutu’uma’u and Pulotu’aka’aka.
Pulotutu’uma’u. This is the calm region of the Pulotu Spirit world. This is the area of Pulotu where spirits of good people journey to after death. This region of Pulotu is filled with peace and rest. In areas known for peaceful waters or conditions are named Pulotu i.e., Pulotutu’uma’u, a reference to the spiritual condition of the spirit world in Pulotu.
Pulotu’aka’aka. This is the region of unrest in Pulotu. Naturally, this is the destination of the spirits of evil people after death. Areas known for dangerous or troubled waters, conditions are named Pulotu i.e., Pulotu’aka’aka, a reference to the spiritual condition of the spirit world in Pulotu.
Summary. The Ancient Tongan directions for east and west were called Tahisi and Tefisi. Tahisi is the ancient name for Tahiti and signified East, and Tefisi the ancient name for Fiji and signified West. These two terms were also tied to the rising of the sun i.e. Tahisi and the setting to the sun i.e. Tefisi. The oral history confirms that Pulotu is in Tefisi. Academia, foreigners, and scholars mistakenly define Tefisi to mean Pulotu is in Fiji. This error is derived from an improper understanding of the historical, cultural, and astronomical context by which Pulotu must be understood through Polynesian Eyes. Pulotu, as shared, is a spiritual world and not a physical location. Ancient Tongans referred to Tefisi (West) as to where Pulotu resides as sunsets are inference to death. Meaning that when one dies or when the sun sets on a person’s physical life, their spirits journey to Pulotu Spirit World.
Once again, you can only travel to Pulotu at death and you can never return. Therefore, the Tongan civilization cannot come from Pulotu. The Tongan civilization came from Vaihi to Tonga and spread throughout Polynesia. This is what oral history, botanical evidence, astronomical evidence, social structure, and ancient ruins within Tonga confirm.
Almost all Tongan foods originate from Vaihi. These foods then spread from Tonga to all Polynesia 2,500 years before the new world Vaihi was discovered in 1492 and named the American Continent in 1507. It is important to note that there may have been existing peoples in Tonga and throughout Polynesia, but the inbound group from Vaihi to Tonga brought technology, science, religion, and political structure that led to the formation of one of the world’s greatest and most vast empires in human history, known as the Tongan Empire.
Pulotu Database. There is an academic approach to understanding Pulotu that is furthering the errors discussed above regarding a proper understanding of Pulotu, the various characters associated with Pulotu, and furthering a totally erroneous understanding of the origin of Tongan and Polynesian Culture’s origin.