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Tu, main divinity of the pantheon of Mangareva island

Prior to1835
carved wood
Gambier Islands, Mangareva Island
cat. AU 2148

The sculpture represents the main divinity of the Mangareva pantheon. In the genealogy of superhuman beings, Tu is situated as the eldest son, generated by two divinities defined "not created", who, even if always present in the prayers of the island peoples, did not interact with the world of men. Tu was considered the benefactor of mankind, who guaranteed the growth of the bread fruit tree (the staple food of the islanders). Numerous prayers and feasts were dedicated to him, within a rich ceremonial system. The priests who presided over them were only chosen from among the members of royal lineage. The sculpture, unique in its type, was donated by the missionaries of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart and of the Adoration (PICPUS) to the Borgiano Museum of Propaganda Fide of Rome, and from here transferred, after the Missionary Exhibition of 1925, to the Ethnological Missionary Museum.