Handbook of Polynesian Mythology
by Robert D. Craig
October 2004, 353pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-57607-894-5
$91, £70, 80€, A125
eBook Available: 978-1-57607-895-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Handbook of Polynesian Mythology captures the little known richness and scope of a culture that spread from a single mysterious source to encompass the lands of New Zealand, Easter Island, Hawaii, Samoa, and Tonga. It introduces the people, history, and languages behind the mythology, including the oral traditions that kept it alive for centuries.

An accessible, concise reference source on Polynesia's complex mythology, product of a culture little known outside its home.

Encounters with the West introduced Polynesian mythology to the world—and sealed its fate as a casualty of colonialism. But for centuries before the Europeans came, that mythology was as vast as the triangle of ocean in which it flourished, as diverse as the people it served, and as complex as the mythologies of Greece and Rome.

Students, researchers, and enthusiasts can follow vivid retellings of stories of creation, death, and great voyages, tracking variations from island to island. They can use the book’s reference section for information on major deities, heroes, elves, fairies, and recurring themes, as well as the mythic implications of everything from dogs and volcanoes to the hula, Easter Island, and tattooing (invented in the South Pacific and popularized by returning sailors).


  • An annotated bibliography of the major introductory commentaries on Polynesian mythology and culture as well as an annotated listing of websites on a broad range of topics related to Polynesian mythology
  • An extensive glossary focusing on English translations, equivalents, and interpretations of Polynesian words and phrases
Robert D. Craig is professor emeritus of Pacific history at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, AK. His published works include Dictionary of Polynesian Mythology and Historical Dictionary of Polynesia.


"This will be a useful volume for undergraduate collections . . . Recommended."—Choice, April 1, 2005

"Overall, this handbook makes available a wide range of infomation suitable for students ranging from high school to undergraduate and general interest readers."—American Reference Books Annual, March 1, 2005
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