Tapu (Polynesian culture)


Tapu (Polynesian culture)

Tapu (or tabu) is a concept existing in many Polynesian societies, including traditional Māori, Samoan and Tongan cultures. It reflects something that is holy or sacred. The cognate word in the Hawaiian language culture is kapu. The Rotuman term for the concept is "ha'a"

In Māori and Tongan tradition, something that is tapu (Māori) or tabu (Tongan) is considered inviolable or sacrosanct due to its sacredness. Things or places which are tapu must be left alone, and may not be approached or interfered with. In some cases, they should not even be spoken of.

In Māori society the concept was often used by tohunga (priests) to protect resources from over-exploitation, by declaring a fishery or other resource as tapu (see rāhui). The English word "taboo" derives from this usage, and was adopted by Captain James Cook during his visit to Tonga in 1777.


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