Artist's depiction of the Sun god, Maui.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image
Maui was the trickster hero of Polynesian mythology. It is said that Maui was born prematurely and was abandoned by his mother in the surf. But having survived, he was eventually returned to his mother. His mother used to work all day making tapa (bark) cloth. For Maui and his mother, the days were too short; there was never enough time to accomplish anything in only one day. Maui wanted to allow his mother to have more daylight to make bark cloth.
He thought that if the Sun were moving slower across the sky, there would be more hours of light in one day. So, Maui cut off the sacred tresses of his wife, Hina, to make a rope that would not burn once in contact with the Sun. With his rope he caught the Sun as it was rising and beat it with the magic jawbone of his grandmother. The Sun was so weak after the beating that it could no run but only creep along its course. In this way, the sunlight lasted longer, and it was possible to work more during the day.
Maui was small but very courageous. He wasn't afraid of anything, even the monster eel Te Tuna. Maui challenged Te Tuna for his wife, Hina. The two compared the size of their phalluses. Maui won, and so Hina confidently changed lovers.
Another tale tells of the true bravery of the trickster god. He decided to steal a hen from heaven in order to learn the art of fire. The fire was supposedly guarded by a chicken. He also attempted to conquer death. He tried to get past the goddess of death, Hine-nui-te-po. However, she squeezed him to death. It is said that his blood made the shrimp red and formed the colors for the rainbow.
He was always trying to impress women. In one story, Maui pushed the sky higher up because it annoyed him. He was trying to make an earth oven for a beautiful lady.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Ahsonnutli was the sky father and chief deity of the Navajo Indians. He created heaven, Earth, and the sky. Each of the four cardinal directions was supported by a giant. Each direction was also associated...more
Amphitrite was one of the fifty Nereids, the attendants of the sea-god Poseidon. Poseidon (Neptune) had fallen in love with Amphitrite after seeing her dancing on the island of Naxos. Amphitrite rejected...more
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty. She was known to the Romans as Venus. There were actually two different Aphrodites, one was the daughter of Uranus, the other the daughter of Zeus and...more
In Greek mythology, Apollo was the son of Jupiter(in Greek Zeus) and Leto (Letona). He was the god of the Sun, logic, and reason, and was also a fine musician and healer. Leto travelled all over Greece...more
According to an ancient Greek legend, the figure of a gigantic crab was placed in the nighttime sky by the goddess Hera to form the constellation Cancer. Hera was the jealous wife of the sky god, Zeus....more
In the Northern Hemisphere sky is the constellation Cepheus, king of Ethiopia, and that of his wife Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia claimed that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the sea nymphs,...more
According tho the Navajo mythology, the Milky Way was created by the misbehavior of the mischievous deity, Coyote. When the world was created, the Holy People gathered around Black God to place the stars...more