Les îles Gambier, un Musée d'Histoire pour l'Océanie

Les îles Gambier, un Musée d'Histoire pour l'Océanie

. Letter in English

Nov.2014 dossier colloque tapa Anglais/français :

2014.11 étude traduite en anglais   .pdf




Mrs Claire de Pérignon Préserville, Toulouse, France,

November 2015



To my Mangerevian friends

and to anybody with a general interest in anthropological culture


OBJECT : CREATION OF A WEB SITE       http://www.iles-gambier.fr/


-so that everyone in the Gambier Islands can see the sketches on tapa discovered in the middle of the ruins of the Too of your last Akariki Maputeoa - sketches that are supposed to be those of his tattoos…

- so that each one of you, if you wish, can find out about this discovery of 20 neatly placed sketches, study them and share them with anyone else who might be interested.

- and to share with you the photos of some of the many megalithic, sacred sites (tapu) that can be found on your archipelago. Unfortunately, these sites have been forgotten about due to a certain taboo associated with them (pyramid of Temoe, burial mound in the form of the gorilla of Agakauitai, the giant stone of Akamaru, the sun hole of Atituiti…) vestiges that have survived massive destructions at the hands of man as well as natural disasters, similarly to those of Easter Island, Tonga and Tinian…



last of the Akariki of the Islands of « Mangareva » (1814 :1857)



We discovered these sketches in December 2011, in the middle of the vestiges of the Too of Maputeoa

- Monique Richeton, tavana of the Archipelago of Gambier

- Mateo Pakaiti and his wife Isabelle, owners of the vestiges of the Too

- my husband Patrick and myself, invited to stay with our friends for the celebration given in honour of the restoration of the cathedral.

Monique and Mateo entrusted me to speak about this discovery to the archaeological world, for they fully appreciated its anthropological importance, tainted by the constant taboo attached to all objects found in the burial cave of their Akariki forbears.

Encouraged by the admiration of the many specialists in this field and amazed by the absence of any form of publication about such discoveries, I decided to create this site in honour of Maputeoa.




1 The missionary period : a period talked about with pride on the Gambier Islands, that followed 2 centuries of random visits by whaling ships or tradesmen that had been sailing around the Pacific since the 17th century*. The Catholic fathers arrived in 1834 : Father Laval, anthropologist of his time, author of a literary treasure, describes the abandonment of all sacred rites and the destruction of all literary works pertaining to antiquity. He did, however, reveal certain legends. (*Famous names such as Quiros in 1595 in the Marquesas Islands, Davis in 1687, Rogeveen in 1722 on Easter Island, Bougainville in Tahiti in 1768, Cook, of course in 1768, 1771 and 1776, Bligh in 1788, Moerenhout in 1731).

2 The period studied by today’s archeologists:

- a period marked by the proximity with the Lapita people from Asia who left evidence of their visit in the form of ceramic objects that can be found from Micronesia and Melanesia to Polynesia between 3000 and 6000 years ago.

- a period marked by the journeys of the Amerindians and all the similarities in terms of customs and rituals dictated by celestial bodies (feathers, marae, pyramids, moai) from Cuzco to Rurutu, Maupiti, Raiatea…

The 20 sketches of tattoos discovered by Mateo Pakaiti in the burial cave of his forefathers came from this period.

3 The period of the so called “vanished” civilizations from which originated the SACRED and the worship of the ancestors all over the world, in which Peoples who had survived disasters continued to dwell in adoration before Herculean achievements such as cave arts dating back to 30 000 years. These remarkably conserved cave arts can be found on all the continents including Australia. Other such works include “the huge stone giants, sometimes over 20 tons (50 tons in Stonehenge, 80 tons on Easter Island, 300 tons in Brittany, 1000 tons in Baalbek…) dating back to at least the end of the last ice age (Mesolithic : over 10 000 years) that peoples of ancient civilizations had formed and transported over tens of kilometers…

Man survived the natural disasters that caused the oceans to rise and fall by over 120 metres, mainly in the southern hemisphere where the climate was mild. These meteorological conditions were conducive to forming numerous ethnic groups and nations, all of which instituted ways of survival linked to the Sacred and this can be seen in the form of mysterious cave paintings, sculptured mountains and megaliths positioned according to the sun’s rays on days of solstices.



This site has been created in order to share the treasures of these three historic periods. They are currently conserved in this tiny archipelago of Oceania, the Gambier Archipelago. In time, I will include the literary works that I have read, from which I have learnt that Oceania was not full of savage cannibals: the first settlers, despite being given a good welcome, confused “straightforward nudity when bathing” with “savagery” and rare legends of “human sacrifices” with “cannibalism”. They were all too happy to have two handy reasons for unscrupulously colonizing these archipelagos of Oceania. Little by little, these works recount the history of a Great People, joyful and welcoming, for whom everything was linked with the SACRED and whose rituals were devoted to the forefathers with their protective mana.

Yours sincerely,

Claire de Pérignon


PS Please feel free to leave a comment on the ‘contact’ page or sign up for becoming a member of the Blog to access the forum. Thank you.


(Merci Emma pour cette traduction)


 Retour sur le site internet des Iles Gambier

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