chapter  VIII
Beliefs in Oceania traceable in the Hung Rite
Pages 14

This race, the Maoris, were themselves invaders, who had come by boat from further North, and had practically obliterated the more primitive people whom they found on their arrival. The exact area from whence they came is still a matter of dispute, but it was certainly not very far from New Guinea, although it is possible that even this home was merely a temporary stopping place on a journey from a still more distant centre. It is clear, however, that it is not impossible that they were at one time in touch with New Guinea itself, and if so the features in their beliefs as to what befalls the dead which are similar to those found in New Guinea may be evidence of a definite migra­ tion of this cult from that centre. Neither can we preclude the possibility of their having come into touch with the Chinese at some period in their history anterior to the epic voyage which resulted in their conquest of New Zealand. There are, indeed, anthropologists who are inclined to think that many of the races in the Pacific must at one time have been in touch with a still more ancient civilisation than that of China, namely, Egypt, and if so they will find addi­ tional evidence for their theories in some of the beliefs held by the Maoris. But perhaps the most tangible piece of evidence on the point is the silent witness borne by two ungainly statues which were brought from Easter Island, and which now stand on the the East side of the colonnaded portico of the British Museum. On the back of each of these statues is carved in bas-relief a large ankh cross. The fact that they are in bas-relief precludes the possibility of them having been carved in by any modern forger, although the evenly weathered surface of the crosses and the backs of the figures should be sufficient to convince us that they are contemporary with the statues themselves. How such an essentially Egyptian symbol came to be marooned on this lonely island in mid-Pacific no one can say, but facts like these should make us hesitate to reject out of hand the possibility of all connection between the natives of the

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