James Cook - A Journal of the proceedings of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour on a voyage round the world, by Lieutenant James Cook, Commander, commencing the 25th of May 1768 - 23 Oct. 1770 - Page 114
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[left margin] Religion
Having given the best account I can of the manners & Customs of these people it will be expected that I should give some account of their religion which is a thing I have learnt so little of that I hardly dare touch upon it & should have passed it over in silence was it not my duty as well as inclination to insert in this journal every & the least knowledge I may obtain of a people who for many Centuries have been shut up from almost every other part of the world.
They believe that their is one Supream[sic] GOD whom they call Sawny - from him sprung a number of inferior Deities Eatuas as they call them these they think preside over them & intermeddle in their Affairs to these they offer Oblations such as Hogs, Dogs, Fish Fruit &tc. & invoke them on some particular occasions as in time of real or Apparent Danger,the setting out of a long Voyage, sickness's &tc, but the Ceremony made use of on these occasions I know not, the Monies? which we at first thought was burying places are wholy
only built for places of worship & for the performing of religious ceremonies in, the [Viands] are laid upon altars erected 8.10 Feet [?] on high by stout Planks, & the Table of their Altar on which the Viands lay is generally made of palm leaves, they are not always in the Monies? but very often at some Distance from them, their Monies? as well as the Tombs of the Dead. They seem to hold sacred & the women never enter the former whatever they may do the latter. The Viands laid near Tombs of the Dead are from what I can learn, nor for the deceased but as an Offering to the Eatua made upon that Occasion who if not would destroy the body & not accept of the Soul for they believe of a future state of rewards & punishments. But what their Ideas are of it I know not, We have seen on some few places small Houres set apart on purpose for the reception of the Oblations offered to the Eatua which consists in small strips of Cloth Viands &tc, I am of Opinion
they offer to the Eatua a strip or small piece of every piece of Cloth they make before they use it themselves & it is not unlikely but what they observe the same thing with respect to their Victuals. but as their are but few of these houses this cannot be a common Custom, it may only be observ'd by the Priests & such families as are more religious than others. now I have mentioned Priests they are men that Exercise that function of which Numbers Tupis is one they seem to be in no great repute neither can they live wholy
only by their profession & this leads me to think that these people are no bigots to their religion. The Priests on some occasion