Ancient Religions of the Austronesian World: From Australasia to Taiwan
Austronesia is the vast oceanic region which stretches from Madagascar to Taiwan to New Zealand. Encompassing both scattered archipelagos and major landmasses, Austronesia – derived from the Latin australis, ‘southern’, and Greek nesos, ‘island’ – is used primarily as a linguistic term, designating a family of languages spoken by peoples with a shared heritage. Julian Baldick, a celebrated historian of ancient religion, here argues that the diverse inhabitants of the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Guinea and Oceania show a common inheritance that extends beyond language. This commonality is found above all in mythology and ritual, which reach back to an ancient, prehistoric past. From around 1250 BCE the original proto-Oceanic speakers migrated eastwards from southeast Asia. Navigating by the sun, the stars, bird flight, the swells of the sea and cloud-swathed mountain islands, Austronesian voyagers used canoes and outriggers to settle on new territories. They developed a unified pattern of religion characterised by mortuary rites, headhunting and agrarian rituals of the annual calendar, culminating in a post-harvest festival often sexual in nature. This unique overview of Austronesian belief and tradition will be essential reading for students of religion, prehistory and anthropology.
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ancestors ancestral spirits animals anthropologist Ata Tana Atayal Atoni Austronesian religions bad death bamboo based on fieldwork believe beneath Berawan Biaks body Borneo boys burial buried Caledonia canoe ceremony chief clan coconut common-house corpse dancing dead deceased deceased’s deities eastern Indonesia Eastern Malayo-Polynesian female fertility festival Fijians final mortuary fish four funeral ghosts gods grave groups harvest head headhunting headtaker Ho¨llmann Huang Shujing human sacrifice hunting Ibid Ifugao Ilongot incest Indo-European Indonesia island Kayan Kedangese killed Kiribati Kodi latter living Madagascar magic Malayo-Polynesian speakers male man’s Manus Maori marriage Mekeo men’s Merina millet mortuary feast mortuary rituals myth Nage Ngaju Nias Niasans night Oceanic speakers offered one’s orgies person’s pigs prestige priests Puyuma rice Rindi rites sacrificed Saisiyat seven sexual shamans Simbo skull slaves sometimes soul Sumba Sumbanese supreme taboos Taiwan Taiwanese aborigines taken Tsou Ulithi Vanuatu victims village warriors Wogeo women Yabem