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Taboo
(346 words)

The concept of taboo (Tongan tabu) holds a high place in Polynesian religious systems. Without experiences of tabu, we have no suitable word for translation. “Forbidden” or “holy” might seem to work, but they do not fit properly; it is closer to the unholy, violation of which causes shock.

A look at the original meaning of tabu is helpful. In Polynesia, tabu was and is transferred by touch and harms those who are weaker. For this reason the people avoid stronger taboo and protect the weak from their taboos. Special tabu, necessary for sowing seed, building boats, burials, and so fort…

Cite this page
Greschat, Hans-Jürgen, “Taboo”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 13 December 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_T.2>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512



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