Episode 28 – Interlude 1 The Chamorros of Saipan

Special Episode. This week is a break from normal as we discuss the Chamorro people of the Marianas islands, A four thousand year oral culture in the Pacific ocean. We will look at a few creation legends as well as the history of the islands as told through the legend of Chief Taga.

These are not the oldest stories, but here are some links to Saipan’s history in WW2 which may be of interest to some listeners. Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

Fo’na and Pontan are sometimes listed as Fu’una and Puntan, this just seems to be a spelling difference. Also, the name of the Chamorro people is sometimes spelled CHamoru, based on a different writing of the language.

Here is a pic of Fouha Rock, the origin of life on earth. Sadly, I couldn’t get to the trail that would lead directly to the rock, it wasn’t labelled and I had been warned by a few locals not to go hiking in the jungle without a group or I risk getting lost or snakebit. So my pic is from a bit south down the coast at a scenic spot.

Zoomed in, with red circle.
zoomed out

Latte houses are pretty cool. It is a mystery how the ancient Chamorros got the stones upright and how they put the massive capstones on top of them, though there are a few theories. The mystery of it is possibly why later Chamorros assigned tremendous strength to the taotaomona ancestors.

It is interesting to contrast the tale of Taga, with its attempted and successful infanticide to the tale of Oedipus. In each tale we see the ancient pre-occupation with a father’s fear of being surpassed or replaced by the son, but whereas in the Greek tale the son succeeds, the Chamorro tale sees both fathers successfully driving off their sons, in one case with infanticide, despite the fact that both acknowledge their actions to be horrifically evil.

So after recording this, I learned that there are other versions of the mosquito story all around the Asian pacific rim, showing that the trade routes moved more than just pottery around the ocean

One thought on “Episode 28 – Interlude 1 The Chamorros of Saipan”

  1. Hey hey! I really enjoyed this episode! I'm a Nashville, TN guy and am currently living in Brisbane, Australia with my family. I found your podcast today, and as a student of biblical Hebrew with a keen interest in the ANE, I absolutely loved it! I think I made it through eleven episodes today! Haha (I am also a house painter, so I binge-listened while painting). Since being here in Australia, I have grown very close to some Aboriginal folks and am a part of an Aboriginal faith community that explores the ancient stories and spirituality of both the Aboriginal Dreaming stories and the Hebrew Bible mythology. Like the Chamorro, much has been lost due to colonisation, but what remains is breathtakingly beautiful and worth a long, deep dive! Tyson Yunkaporta has an excellent book called, SandTalk, which explores some ancient myths and also some new and fresh interpretation. Certainly a fascinating read! Anyway, thanks so much for the podcast! You're fantastic!


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