Religious and Cosmic Beliefs of Central Polynesia
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
2 volumes. xx+399 pages with fold out map, tables and bibliography; 398 pages with map, four fold out tables and index. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/2") bound in original blue-green cloth with gilt lettering to spine. First editions.
Robert Wood Williamson (1856-1932) was a British solicitor and anthropologist who worked extensively in New Guinea and Polynesia. Originally published in 1933, this book forms one of two volumes by Williamson on the religious, mythical and cosmic structures of Central Polynesia. The work was unfinished at the time of Williamson's death, but it was considered near enough completion to be published posthumously in its final form. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the development of anthropology and the religious cultures of Polynesia. This work gives a short account of the cosmic beliefs of the natives of Central Polynesia, and discusses in detail their ideas as to the nature of the soul and its varying fates and destinations after death. An attempt has been made to show that the original destination was subterranean and was connected with an early volcano-cult associated with the gods Maui and Tiki and probably introduced into Polynesia by Rivers's sitting-interment people; that at later dates new cults associating the destination of the soul with an ancestral home in the west or with some region in the skies were introduced, probably by different bands of the kava people who spread widely over Polynesia and had a predominating influence there; and that the three cults became mixed up, the early volcano-cult surviving only in a modified form.
Previous owner's name to front pastedown to volume one. Corners gently bumped. Jackets with some staining, and edge wear with chips to corners and spine ends else a very good set in like jackets.
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