Polynesia is a group of over 1,000 islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean including the well-known island nations of Fiji, Easter Island, Hawaii, and Tahiti. Together these islands make up Polynesia, which itself is part of the larger region of Oceania that also includes Micronesia and Melanesia. Polynesia has a rich cultural history. Ancient human settlers arrived in this region well over 3,000 years ago. Early Polynesians were spiritual people and they crafted symbolic items and tattoos to represent different aspects of spirituality, including good luck.
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Hawaii is renowned for its beauty and being a place of paradise, and these paradise islands come complete with their good luck charms. One of the most iconic symbols of Hawaii is the lei, a garland necklace made from the tropical flowers on the islands. Leis are popular with tourists, but in earlier times they were also good luck charms for sailors. Leis were thrown into sea upon a sailor's departure, and if they returned to the shore, that would indicate that the sailor would also return.
The green sea turtle in Hawaii is known as the Honu to the natives of the islands. The ancient Hawaiians had animalistic beliefs, believing that their guardian spirits could take the form of any creature. Some Hawaiian legends also state that the Honu was the creature that guided the Polynesians to the Hawaiian Islands. The Honu is meant to symbolise good ocean health. Plus, the fact that these turtles have stood the test of time and still exist also makes the Honu a good luck charm to the natives, being a sacred symbol of longevity and endurance.
The Maori lived on what is now known as New Zealand. The Maori were extremely spiritual people, and what they lacked in a written history, they made up for with arts and crafts; creating various symbols with spiritual meanings. One good luck charm of the Maori is the Hei Matu (or “fish hook”). The Hei Matu is meant to represent strength and abundance, but it is also believed to bring prosperity, peace, and good health. Another popular good luck charm in early Maori cultures is the fertility symbol Tiki, which is believed to give the wearer great inner knowledge and clarity of mind.
Peridots and tabuas
The peridot is a green volcanic gem that is meant to represent the tears of the great Goddess of the Volcano, Pele. In early Hawaiian cultures the peridot was worn by the natives because they believed it warded off evil spirits and bad luck. Tabuas, on the other hand, are native to Fiji. The early Fijian cultures believed that every aspect of a person, include personality and beliefs, could be displayed in art form, primarily in sculptures and woven fabrics. The tabua is actually a whale’s tooth, and was a talisman for the early Fijian cultures, who believed it was the embodiment of female energy.
Tattoos were rife throughout Polynesian cultures and many of the early Polynesian designs are still tattooed today. In early times the Polynesians used tattoos as various status symbols, from symbolising adulthood to symbolising cultural status and personality traits. However, many Polynesian tattoo designs also represent good luck, and the Samoan culture in particular used tattoos as charms that protected the wearer from evil and bad luck.
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