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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Maro ‘Ura: A Polynesian Treasure

Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac / Paris / Art

In the 18th century, when explorers like James Cook and William Bligh reached the sunny shores of Tahiti, they observed that island chiefs frequently donned maro ‘uras, or “red belts.” The belts were made of feathers, and were used for the worship of ‘Oro—the all-powerful god of healing. After colonization, they disappeared. Recently, however, a fragment of an ‘ura was discovered. Red fibers in the belt suggest its maker may have incorporated the red pennant that was used by the English captain Samuel Wallis, who laid claim to the island in 1767. This is a rare chance to see a relic of the Society Islands’ indigenous history. —E.C.

Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris, France
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