Maori: Society, Culture, Language

Journal / Conference:
Authors: Václav Černý et al., ed.: Martin Soukup
Year: 2020
Category of Publication: Book review
Pages, web: 456 s.
Keywords: Maori, dictionary, mythology, culture
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Abstract: The book is the second volume of unpublished manuscripts of Václav A. Černý. In 1968, he focused on the study of Polynesian cultures, languages and lore. He compiled dictionaries and translated modem literature as well as oral traditions. The second volume contains a comprehensive Czech-Maori and Maori-Czech dictionary and a dictionary of Maori novels, mythology and proverbs. The volume also includes a CD with samples of Maori songs, which Černý introduced in the Czechoslovakian Radio broadcast in the 1980s. There are also five essays providing information on traditional Maori society, culture, language and mythology. The extensive Czech-Maori and Maori-Czech dictionary represents the first important contribution to the study of Maori language in Czech scholarship. Therefore, dictionary offers a fundamental tool for the Czech learners of Maori. The dictionary of Maori novels, mythology and proverbs is a selection of interpretations of important figures of Maori mythology, gods, culture heroes, cultural concepts and Maori culture and history. Černýʼs translations are accompanied with essays by four Czech scholars. In his introductory chapter, Martin Soukup provides outline of the Maoriʼs origin, the structure of their society, selected cultural customs, and their first contacts with Europeans after James Cookʼs visit. He describes the first contacts of Czechs with Maoris. The contribution by Gábina Jungová discusses the life and work of Czech-born Bohumír (Gottfried) Lindauer, who made portraits of Maoris. She also describes Maori artefacts, which are part of the National Museum in Pragueʼs collection. Martin Rychlíkʼs contribution focuses on the Maori tattoo, which fulfilled an important role in Maori society and which became world-renown. Two chapters by Ondřej Pivoda concentrate on Maori language, elucidate its specifics and discuss Maori mythology, issues, which Václav Černý paid attention to in his work as a translator as well. As a whole, the book is an indispensable contribution to the forming of Pacific studies in Czech environment.
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