Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the gods and myths of Bellona and Rennell Islands has proven very popular. (CLICK HERE ) The figure Takitaki is not a deity but he is often considered the Bel-Ren equivalent of the mortal hero Odysseus from Greek myths.
TAKITAKI – This hero of Bel-Ren myths was a very clever thief whose nautical adventures took him all around the Solomon Islands. Sometimes Takitaki traveled in a canoe small enough for one person but other stories feature him commanding an entire crew on much larger vessels. Here is one of the best-known exploits of this member of the Togo Clan:
Arriving at one of the other Solomon Islands after a long voyage from Bellona and Rennell, Takitaki surreptitiously made his way inland until he came across a populated village. The famished hero began stealing taro from one of the gardens.
At length Takitaki was caught in the act by the owner of the garden. A general alarm was sounded and our protagonist ran, stuffing his mouth as he fled. He took shelter in an abandoned home but soon found himself surrounded and besieged by the villagers.
Takitaki wielded his spear so expertly that he finished off the first few villagers who tried coming in after him. The others contented themselves to settle in for a siege, knowing the intruder would have to emerge sooner or later. Takitaki nearly despaired when those surrounding him announced themselves as cannibals who would use him as a meat dish to complement their servings of taro.
Eventually night fell and the cannibals cast a huge net over the residence in which Takitaki was hiding to prevent him from slipping through their lines under cover of darkness. Feeling utterly hopeless, Takitaki prayed to the god Tehu’aingabenga.
That deity granted Takitaki his request: in a flash of lightning which shone ONLY inside the house a clam shell and a small axe materialized. (In some versions the clam shell and axe are provided by a female villager who has been smitten by Takitaki’s manly charms. In other versions he bribes the woman for them with a cluster of betel nuts. In still other versions he drugs the betel nuts and tosses them out to his hungry besiegers, who fall asleep after eating them.)
Takitaki used the clam shell and axe to cut his way through part of the net. Once through it he used his incredible stealth to make his way through the darkness and past the cannibals without them being any the wiser.
Arriving at the seashore our shrewd main character located his craft, then, after chopping holes in the bottoms of all the other canoes lining the shore, set out to sea. Once he was some distance from shore Takitaki used his oars as drumsticks to beat out a song to taunt the cannibals.
The furious man-eaters, realizing their intended prey had slipped away, raced to their boats. They set out in pursuit of Takitaki but soon the holes he had bored caused the canoes of the cannibals to sink.
With his pursuers now swimming in the open sea Takitaki called upon the shark god Tinotonu to send sharks to eat the cannibals as they had planned to eat him. Tinotonu agreed and his sharks devoured the cannibals. +++
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