The Taniwha’s Beauty – Polynesian Princess Series

Just reimaging classic fairy tales set in the South Pacific! This time, Beauty and the Beast are set in pre-colonial New Zealand when the Maori people were the only population on the island. I drew my inspiration in 2016 when Disney’s Moana was in theatres at the time of this drawing and yearn to know about the Polynesian people and their ancient culture.  Click on the picture to learn more about this series!

maori_beauty_and_the_taniwha
Beauty and the Beast are Maori. (2016)
I drew Beauty in a traditional kakahu cloak in yellow complete with Huia feathers, a pounamu earring and Koru necklace. She also has her own chin moko kauae in the shape of a Koru as her family’s symbol and an element of the story. Since the rose is an important element in the movie and story, I replace it with a silver fern for I read that it is a symbol of New Zealand with deep historical importance in Maori society and beliefs. 
For the Beast, he is my artistic interpretation of the supernatural river guardian, the Taniwha. He has a shark’s tail while the rest has the body of a tuarara with webbed feet for swimming in his watery domain. I added a piupiu and a Ta Moko for his face to indicate that he was once an important son of a great chief until he broke Tapu when he polluted a sacred cave and was turned into a Taniwha. He is forced to live his days in caves and pools of water until someone would fall in love for him before the last of the fern’s leaves have wilted away so the curse would be lifted. 
In this drawing, the Beast brings Beauty to the “Cave of Stars” as a gift for her like the library in the movie. The Cave of Stars is based on the glowworms in the Waitomo caves of New Zealand. The Beast gives Beauty a second gift, the enchanted silver fern as a token of peace and gratitude to her kindness. Touched by his humility and gentleness, Beauty presses her nose against the Beast’s in the form of a Hongi, reminiscing Tane Mahuta’s creation of his first love and first human being Hineahuone, the “woman formed of earth.”
I really enjoyed making this drawing and hope to visit New Zealand to see the Waitomo caves and more! 

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