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Archaeologica.org • View topic - Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

All points south!

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Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Sam Salmon » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:07 pm





Legendary navigator revived an ancient art


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HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, July 14, 2010) – Legendary Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, among the last of his kind, reportedly died Sunday on his home island of Satawal in the Federated States of Micronesia.

He was 78.

Satawal is a remote atoll in the island chain of Yap, one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia south of Guam.

Working with the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, Piailug in 1976 navigated the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hokule‘a from Hawaii to Tahiti on its maiden voyage.

The revered traditional navigator used the ancient skills he learned as a boy, guiding Hokule‘a 2,500 miles across the open ocean between Hawaii and Tahiti without charts or instruments.

Piailug is credited with a revival of ancient navigational skills used by Pacific explorers – using only observations of stars, moon, wind, currents and birds to criss-cross the vast ocean long before Western explorers arrived.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Piailug had suffered from diabetes for many years.

The Honolulu newspaper quoted Piailug protégé Nainoa Thompson – President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society – as a giant among Pacific islanders whose contributions to cultural preservation are beyond measure.

"Thousands of people are sharing in the sadness," Thompson said. "His contribution to.....humankind is immeasurable."

The Star-Advertiser notes that, beside Hawaii, other island cultures have since formed voyaging societies to promote native voyaging, including in Taiwan, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Saipan, Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, the Marshall Islands and Tahiti.

Piailug is survived by more than a dozen children and numerous grandchildren.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:52 am

Don't dramatize this guy's passing as an ancient culture loss. We have compasses and GPS now. Much better. Besides, this guy's navigational skills were not some kind of magic. At all. He had simply learned to combine the directions certain islands were from his position with a couple dozen star constellations (and v.v.). His knowledge only worked in his part of the world. Outside of that 1 million square miles of territory he was just as much at a loss as you or I.

Any young bloke or gal who puts their mind to it can learn Mau Piailug's navigation 'tricks'.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Minimalist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:56 am

Pissing on the parade again, R/S?

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Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:17 am

I seem to recall that the basis of the Pacific technique was the assigning of a star that would be right above an island.
Once you knew the right star to aim for it was pretty easy.

I think the same technique was used by the Sahara caravan traders to find oasis and towns.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:46 am

First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Sam Salmon » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:22 pm

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:00 am

First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:46 pm

Digit:
Re: the lack of Polynesian scurvy.

I think a lot of it had to do with the heavy fish diet they enjoyed while on land and then continued while on a voyage.
It was just a lot of “same old, same old.”

But you are correct about the expected life loss on a trip to the spice islands and back.
And not just the Dutch.
The English and Portuguese as well.
But they were eating maggot infested bread and badly salted beef.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:00 am

From Cook's log kb he tried to get his people to eat Rock Hopper Penguins and Walrus and faced near mutiny, the crew seemed flatly to ignore the anti scorbutics he wanted them to consume.
Eventually the falure to eat them became punishable with the lash.
I don't even like Beef! :lol:
As far as I understand the causes sea fish are not antiscorbutic, Heyerdahl seemed to think that the polynesians carried coconuts, are they anti scorbutic anyone know?

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:42 pm

I cannot answer.

Isn’t the idea vitamin C in any way, shape, or form?

I like my sea food, but I cannot tell you if it is a source of Vitamin C
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:58 am

Vitamin C indeed kb, and to the best of my knowledge that is only available chemically or from fruit and veg. Perhaps someone knows for certain.
Perhaps the Polynesians were smarter than RS credits?

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:28 am

http://www.coconut-info.com/aboutcoconuts.htm

Well there's our answer kb, coconuts are indeed antiscorbutic. They could store them in the bottom of their canoes as ballast, you can burn the husk so you have cooking fuel, the 'milk' is drinkable and the 'meat' is edible, bored with a hole they would store fresh water, cut they would act as baler and cups etc, the Polynesians had got it made.
Not for nothing do they call it 'the tree of life!'

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:12 pm

It seemed to be a life I could learn to like.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:14 pm

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:36 pm

Last edited by Rokcet Scientist on Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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