|*nbsp||In Micronesia there were characteristically major deities (aitu, akua, atea, atua, etua, etc.) who were personifications of nature or patrons of cultural pursuits. One or a pair is usually singled out as initiating Creation. In creative processes there occurs a cosmic separation (among German scholars of comparative mythology this is the Sacred Trennung motif); the Heavens hold the gods above, and an underworld subsists under the land and seas or under the visible world of humans. In Micronesia's Makin Meang (Gilberts/Kiribati) the young hero Naareau has to kill the cosmic eel before the sky can be propped up, and defeat other powers before other creations can occur above and below. The tiered effect makes for a comparatively vertical look at the world, complementing the social stratification well known in eastern and northern Pacific traditions.
Apart from the prime mover(s), with a primal mother and father often being involved with the Trennung, there were also Departmental divinities and local ones. Compartmental gods were mostly male, and aside from war, we find forests and agriculture were prominent departments. Female spirits were known to guard the underworld.|
As protectors and sustainers of families and lineages, the ancestors were no less important in the everyday life of the Pacific islands than they were in Melanesia. In Austronesian stratified societies, however, they could take on a distinctive prominence in bolstering chiefly power. Genealogical memories were crucial for the ramage complexes of Micronesia (and Polynesia), whereby the tracing of one's ancestory to the first or senior canoe of discovery established politico-sacral priority.
|History|| ||Micronesia is a group of Pacific islands which lie over an area of ocean the size of the forty-eight states of the United States. The region consists of the following island groups: the Mariana, Caroline, Marshall, and Gilbert islands, and the island of Nauru in the southwestern Pacific.|
About 3,500 years ago western Micronesia was probably settled by peoples from either Indonesia or the Philippines; at about the same time eastern Micronesia was settled by peoples possibly from eastern Melanesia. In the 17th century the islands were colonised by Spain who brought with them Christianity. Following the end of the first world war, the islands came under Japanese control. During the second world war the islands were occupied by the Americans, and only acquired full independence from the United States in 1985.
As in other regions of Ocenia the presence of western civilisation inspired the emergence of a number of cargo cults as well as indigenised forms of Christianity.
|Symbols|| ||Bowls, canoe prows. There is less figurative carving in Micronesia than in Melanesia. Among the rare carved figures are the manikinlike forms from Nukuoro in the Caroline islands. These are distinctive in their lack of defined facial features and the absence of hands and feet. More common are geometrical forms to be found in bowls or canoe prows, as well as wood carvings of animals. |
|Adherents|| ||Traditional Micronesian religions are no longer practised today. |
| ||The principal islands and island groups of Micronesia are Guam, the Caroline islands, the Gilbert islands and the Ellis islands. |