Sowukachaw (Daukatau) and the District of 'Pi' (Sopwunipi)

It has long been surmised that the cult of Kachaw was imported to Chuuk from the east (namely Pohnpei), with Sowuwooniiras set up as the high-priest of the cult and later as highest ranking chief over Chuuk. His clansman, Sowuyap, was likewise set up in Yap to oversee the affairs of the cult there. So here we see a westward expansion of this cult.

It is said that Sowukachaw, a powerful spirit-being and promulgator of the cult made several trips to Chuuk. On his final voyage he brought the rocky knob (said to be taken from Kosrae) and placed it on the summit of mount Tonaachaw, where he made it his home. Sowukachaw then, was a god of fertility, rain and thunder who received ritual offerings on the basalt peak of Tonaachaw on Weene island.

Sowuwooniiras, as high-priest, was a member of the Sopwunipi clan. The meaning of Sopwunipi can be rendered in modern Chuukese as 'district of pi'. What 'pi' means in modern Chuukese though, presents a problem. The word means waste material, debris or junk, but it does not seem to be what is meant here. It makes instant sense when we turn to the archaic name for Pohnpei in the Chuukese language, Foonupi - where it means 'On the stone structure'. Or where 'Pi', means 'Pehi' to form the original term 'Sapwenipei' - from whence the cult emigrated (To be continued)...


  • American-Grass, who ever you are, please refrain from disseminating false Chuukese legends and false meaning of Chuukese words.
  • @kinen - please share what you do know then. I understand the schools of Itang were formed due to this. There are differing views, and the evidence of diffusion raises the question of origins. Pohnpeian influence on the Mortlocks, and by extension in Chuuk is evident in the number of clan names that echo Pohnpeian names and titles - Faanimey and Dipwinpahnmei for example, Sowusat and Nahnsoused - to name a few. The Mortlock islanders also echo the Pohnpeian practice regarding honorific titles in their use of the prefix 'Sou' - Lord, Master of - for chiefly lineages, a practice that was not picked up in Chuuk for local chiefly lineages, but is reflected in the titles of the legendary island overlords - such as Sowuwooniiras and Sowumwaar to name a couple.. Though the schools of Itang may disagree on matters of legendary history, they do not disagree with their common association with Sowukachaw (counterpart in Pohnpei is Daukatau). Keep in mind that Chuuk and Pohnpei were not the only places in Micronesia to have a cult that associated Kingship or High Chieftainship with a thunder god and basaltic stone.
  • American Grass, Please elaborate more on your comments below as to the original people or glands of Chuuk?

    This is your remarks,"It has long been surmised that the cult of Kachaw was imported to Chuuk from the east (namely Pohnpei), with Sowuwooniiras set up as the high-priest of the cult and later as highest ranking chief over Chuuk"

    Would it be Souwooniiras or Soukachaw?
    What does the word, "Sou" meant to you? How would you put it into a simple Chuukese term?
    Thanks for your help, American.
  • @esananap I don't understand your question...
  • esananap,

    It's CLAN, not glands.

    And to you American Grass, these are legends. that "achaw" on the peak of Mount Tonachaw was result of volcanic activity.

    These stories you are telling us are from either Pohnpei or Kosrae. What would you (or Pohnpeians) say if I say Chuukese sailed east and established themselves there. Generations later they returned to the west tracing their ancestry? One proof would be names that Chuuk gave to Pohnpei or parts of Pohnpei and Kosrae.

    Legends differ from place to place as they are told.
  • Thanks sinbad for your help. Now, I hope pwipwi American unserstand the question, lol

    To American. The question is, Who is comming to Chuuk first, Soukachaw or Souwooniiras, base on your stories.

    The second part of the question is the word "Sou", what is it really meant to you? Please use the simpler Chuukese terms if you know. Thanks.
  • But sinbad don't chuukese legends say kosrae is where they came from? And another thing migration in the central Carolines is from right to left or east to west. Or are these false?
  • The right to left migration does not hold water because it is relative to which pole your are facing, east could be left or it could be right. I have heard the Kosrae connection in migration, but never Pohnpei.
  • East is where the sun rise and west where it set. If not right to left like how the sun moves then people of kosrae pohnpei and chuuk would have inhabited the islands of guam saipan and palau and yap. But its not since the languages of guam palau and yap are of a different branch of the Austronesian language. So it must be east to west since the languages all aligned from Kiribati to Marshall to Kosrae to pohnpei all the way to chuuk and stop at yap. Up north from melanesia and Polynesia and spreading westward from the east marshall and Kiribati toKosrae to Pohnpei to Chuuk. If not then maybe people dropped out of the sky and landed on these islands
  • lol@IronYouth. Don't be too serious about the whereabouts we all came from. These are or may have already written in history books so there is really no need repeating or retelling what's there unless one can substantiate an argument to change history as written. But all in all, YOU ARE CORRECT. lol
  • Sinbad my comment was towards ngaan who said east to west movement is not true.
  • I know what's you mean. Thanks
  • Guys, don't buried your head to deep into the logic of east to west or west to east movement is wrong. I believe both are right. Wind direction can be change from time to time which can cause drifting away from the right course. Navigational Knowledge can enable people to sail from place to place, like that the Hawaiians learned from the Chuukese to sail across the globe with the old way of navigation system without the modern equipment. If you believe that the Chuukese teach the Hawaiian the old navigational system, please accepted that the Chuukese possessed such skills to travel east to west or west to east. The old stories were written by the old peoples and the new stories are written by the smart generations that can bend lots of the truths.
  • What state in fsm were those navigators who teached navigation Nainoa Thompson and the hawaiians from?
  • Please correct me if I am wrong.
  • edited November 2017
    We're drifting away from the subject of discussion. But to re track, I must answer Iron Youth's wonder first.

    Politically, the late Papa Mau was Yapese; culturally, he was a Chuukese from the Western Region (NomunPattiw). Can be proven by the native language spoken by himself, family members and those who were with him during his ocean voyaging days.

    Anybody may argue that fact that he was, just as all Yapese outer islanders are, more Chuukese than Yapese by culture and by blood.

    God Bless FSM!
  • Thanks for stating the fact that he was from Yap and therefore a Yapese.
  • As a matter of fact, YES.
  • Cheers and here's to FSM!
  • @esananap: In the beginning there was Nikowupwuupw (Bearer), the ancestress of Chuuk's people. She first came to Fanaanu in the Hall Islands and from there to Mechitiw in the north cost of Weene Island. There was also Lord of Achaw 'Soukachaw' who came to chuuk. It has been said by men of higher learning that these two were the progenitors of Chuuk's clans, Nikowupwuup bearing the commoner clans, and Soukachaw's sisters bearing the Chiefly clans. Keep in mind that even today there is disagreement as to what clans belong to which category. I guess it all depends on which school of Itang you subscribe to...

    Now, as to who came first - here's a legend pertaining to your question. Soukachaw had a sister named Nomwokachaw. She also migrated to Chuuk from Achaw. There she gave birth to a daughter, and then two sons. The daughter, named Niyenkachaw 'Woman of Kachaw' had a child by one of her brothers, Atinkachaw 'Lad of Kachaw'. This child grew up to be the legendary Souwooniiras.
  • I believe the two groups came from different direction at different time. Its a bit difficult to do the reserch to find out who came first. But the name sound like one came from the east and one from the north of Chuuk lagoon.
  • @sinbad: The best way (in my opinion) to get any objective view of these legends is to look at all the subjective verses. As you said, legends differ from place to place.

    In the matter of migration, let me share with you the most accepted version of Pohnpei's migration narrative.. Pohnpeian tradition shares that the island was created and settled as a result of seven different voyages. The first came from South 'Eir' while the second came from no specified place. The third voyage came from Imwinkatau 'The Extremety of Katau' by men who brought knowledge of shelter building. 4th and 5th voyages from unspecified places. The sixth was from Katau Peidi, Western (Downwind) Katau. Chuuk is also in that direction. The seventh voyage also from Katau Peidi, brought the two holy men who built the Nan Madol complex on the estern reef off Temwen island, and thereafter instituted the Saudeleur dynasty of kings.

    The dynasty continued to interact with Katau (Kachaw). The overthrow of the dynasty and the founding of the new Nahnmwarki & Nahnken system of rulership, tradition says, were also intimately associated with Daukatau (Soukachaw). The legends of Daukatau state that he was able to come from heaven Nan Leng to any land anywhere. His scope, in short, was cosmic. See, he was worshiped as far east as the Gilbert chains, where he is known as Ta Karawa... So I hope you understand I am not trying to undermine Chuukese legends, just trying to share and get information. Thank you all for your patience.
  • We fell from the sky the end.
  • That's me IronYouth. Is that logical? To me and mine, yes. I/we could care less what others think.
  • What would you say and how would you react if I were to give a different view of the origin of these terms used afore?
  • Sopwunupi, Fanimei, SouwariIras
  • Much respect to you, dear American_Grass.
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