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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Taboo (or Tabu)

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Taboo (or Tabu)

an institution common to all the Polynesian tribes, which solemnly interdicted whatever was esteemed sacred. Hence the term was used to denote anything devoted. With persons or places that were tabooed, all intercourse was prohibited. There were tabooed or sacred days, when it was a crime to be found in a canoe. Pork, bananas, cocoa-nuts, and certain kinds of fish were tabooed to women, and it was death for them to eat these articles of food. The eating together by man and wife was also tabooed, as was the preparation of their food in the same oven. Anything of which a man made an idol, and articles of food offered to idols, were tabooed to him. There were other instances of taboo, as the ariki, or head chief, of an island, who was so sacred that his house, garments, and everything relating to him were taboo. The taboo arose from the idea that a portion of the spiritual essence of the divinity indwelling in sacred things and persons was more or less transmitted to anything else brought in contact with it.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Taboo (or Tabu)'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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