There’s been a great surge in interest recently in Balladeer’s Blog’s long-ago examination of the gods of Samoa. In honor of that here’s a look at a male and female pair of deities from that same pantheon.
ALEI & PATA – Two ancient culture deities of Samoa. Alei and Pata taught the Samoans about home construction, laying out a village and various funerary practices, including embalming. The figures were worshiped jointly as the patron deities of these undertakings, just as the goddesses Taema and Tilafaiga were jointly considered the patron deities of tattooing.
Alei and Pata did not come down to Earth in their godly bodies like their fellow divinities usually did.
Instead this god and goddess first assumed human form and then descended to the Samoan Islands. After decades of passing assorted customs on to the ancient Samoans they taught them how to embalm the dead. Interestingly enough, only women performed the embalming rituals originally.
First they cut off the hair from the corpse, to be replaced with resin hairpieces later in the process. Next they would poke dozens (some sources say hundreds) of tiny holes in the corpse to accomodate the next step – removing all the organs and filling the resulting cavities in the corpse with oils and juices. The holes would allow the fluids to drain from the body more efficiently.
After letting the corpse dry in the sun for a time the abdominal cavity would be stuffed full of bark cloth and sewn shut. Depending on the social rank of the deceased the body might be displayed in a small structure elevated by a pair of canoes. The face would be visible as if the body was standing in a tiny concession stand. (It may be a silly comparison but it says it.)
After the Samoan women were sufficiently proficient at embalming Alei and Pata sloughed off their mortal husks so that their beautiful dead bodies could be preserved and worshiped. (In rational terms two people who may or may not have been named Alei and Pata died and were posthumously worshiped)
Now in their godly forms Alei and Pata departed and the region which was the center of their worship eventually became known as the Aleipata Region of Samoa. Alei and Pata returned to the heavenly home of the gods in some versions and in others they flew off to live on the small islands now called the Aleipata Islands.
FOR MY LONG LOOK AT OTHER SAMOAN DEITIES CLICK HERE
FOR MORE DEITIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD: https://glitternight.com/category/mythology/
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