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Notes on the Geography of Micronesia (Pohnpei): Pohnpei: Photo 14

world pictures Micronesia (Pohnpei): Pohnpei

Remind you of Angkor? Here's Kahn (A Reporter in Micronesia, p. 151), who came before the path was built: "Nan Madol would probably be a great tourist attraction were it not fairly inaccessible; except at high tide, the ruins, lying along the shores of mangrove-bordered streams, can be approached only in a canoe." Want something a bit more atmospheric, something in the style of a pulp fiction? Here's Willard Price in 1936 (Pacific Adventure, p. 236): "It is a stormy morning a few thousand years ago. Magnificent canoes, shaped somewhat like gigantic, sea-going gondolas, bravely decorated, move in procession through the water-streets of Nanmatal [sic]. Some are double canoes with a platform between. On these decks maidens dance. Time is kept by the lion-roar of great drums, five feet high, shaped like monstrous dice boxes, and covered with the skin of the sting ray. In one canoe is King Chau-te-leur and his priests. He has proclaimed this festival in honor of the completion of his city. Flowers rain down from the hands of women who line the crests of the battlements high among the tops of the palm trees." Chau-te-leur is usually spelled saudeleur today. The name means "Lord of Deleur," which itself is an older name of Pohnpei.

Background: the first saudeleur established Nan Madol about 1200. He also established both the first unified rule of the island and a dynasty of succeeding saudeleurs who ruled the island for about 400 years. A revolt or an invasion--choose your poison--brought the dynasty to an end, but Nan Madol continued as the base of a weaker successor dynasty, which for unknown reasons eventually left Nan Madol and moved to the main island and subdivided it into domains ruled by Nahnmwarkis. They remain much respected today, though holding no official role.

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