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A picture showing the legend of TANGATA-MANU taken from our Oceanic mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Oceanic Gods, Oceanic Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

The famous Bird-Man deity of Easter Island

He is the Earthly representative of MAKE-MAKE.

A thousand years ago, the Rapanui people were quite content to worship their ancestors, pay homage to MAKE-MAKE and build rather a lot of huge MOAI statues. But due to greed and a complete lack of ecological savvy, the flourishing forests were destroyed, the land was over-farmed, and Easter Island became a pretty tough place to live.

There were two factions at the time, the Fat Ones and the Thin Ones. No-one knows for sure, but it seems that the Fat Ones owned all the juicy bits of land while the Thin Ones toiled and scratched. Result: revolution.

The Thin Ones rose up, slaughtered their rivals, threw down the MOAI, and adopted a brand new deity. The cult of TANGATA-MANU was born and statue-building was abandoned overnight, leaving a graveyard of unfinished MOAI to puzzle future archeologists.

TANGATA-MANU the Bird-Man was supposed to be MAKE-MAKE's Earthly ambassador, but he didn't object to a bit of devout fun. Thus began the Great Easter Island Egg Hunt, a yearly sporting event in which daring lads would scramble over cliffs and rocks in search of the first egg of the season. This was quite a dangerous mission, and whoever found and returned the egg safely was showered with praise and crowned Bird Man of the Year.

TANGATA-MANU himself is somewhat elusive. There are many carvings of him bending over an egg and looking at it in a rather perplexed manner. We don't know what to make of it either.

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Article last updated on 11 January 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Tangata-manu is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

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Area or people : Rapanui people of Easter Island
Location : the Pacific Islands
Gender : Male
Type : Deity
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : BIRD-MAN, TANGATAMANU
Popularity index : 963

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