The Mangarevans of Gambier Islands

Mangarevan is also known as Mangareva. It is a Polynesian language. This people group can only be found in French Polynesia. It is mainly spoken in the Gambier islands, Rikitea settlements and in Mangereva. Approximately 1,600 people speak this language. Speakers are bi-lingual as they can also speak Tahitian. Mangarevan is closely related to Hawaiian and the languages spoken in Marquesas islands. It has varying lexical similarities with other languages such as Tahitian, Rarotongan, Tuamotuan and Marquesan.

Mangareva consists of 4 small volcanic islands, which are in French Polynesia. Recent data suggests that there are fewer people living in the islands than there were before. This is because more people are migrating to larger islands such as Tahiti or more urbanized areas. In the past and even today, most Mangarevans subsist on a combination of agriculture and fishing. Some of the most important crops in the island includes sugarcane, coconuts, bananas and taro. Tattoos have been quite common among Mangarevans since the 18th century. Even the coming of the missionaries did not discourage this culture.

The Mangarevans have an interesting culture. Flowers are a part of their culture and they symbolize pleasure and joy. Tiara necklaces are normally tied around the necks of visitors to the island as a welcoming sign and a sign of good luck. In the past, tiaras were a sign of love and were considered to be sacred flowers, which could only be picked by Kings and princes. In Polynesian weddings, tiaras were used to line the bed of newly weds for 30 days so as to help the couple achieve the secrets of God. Currently, when someone places a tiara in their left ear it means that they are already taken, while if it is placed in the right ear it means that their heart still remains to be taken.

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