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Buddhism in the Pacific

    Naturevolume 105page407 (1920) | Download Citation



    AT a meeting of the Royal Anthropological Institute on Tuesday, May 18, Sir Everard im Thurn, president, in the chair, Sir Henry Howorth read a paper on “Buddhism in the Pacific.” The paper discussed the disintegrated distribution of the Polynesian race, and the occurrence, especially in the Hawaian archipelago and that of New Zealand, of two of its factors which are separated by the whole length of the Pacific Ocean, one occurring in the extreme north and the other in the extreme south, and separated by an intervening area occupied largely by Melanesians. The two factors in question agree very closely in language, while they differ materially in the art and form of the objects which they use. Inasmuch as the Maoris almost certainly migrated to their present quarters at the beginning of the fifteenth century, this is the only way to account for the virtual identity of their speech with that of the Hawaians, and the general character of their ornamental work with that of the Melanesians. The Hawraians, on the other hand, present us with a series of objects, i.e. helmets and cloaks, made of feathers which, in their form and colour, differ entirely from those made by other members of the Polynesian race. They agree in an extraordinary way in colour and form with those of the Reformed Lamaists of Tibet, who, like other Buddhists, were great travellers and evangelists at a time when Chinese and Japanese vessels, as has been so completely proved in recent years, were traversing the Indian Ocean and visiting the whole of the eastern archipelago at least as far as New Guinea, and apparently even reaching New Zealand, where many vears ago a very interesting bronze figure was found.

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