The Story of "Little Eyes"

This lovely story about the Pleiades comes from the Polynesians. They call this star cluster Mata-riki, which means "Little Eyes."

A long time ago, long before men lived on the Earth, Mata-riki was a single and beautiful star, the most brilliant star in the sky. This star was so bright that it rivaled the quarter moon. When this star rose, its reflection sparkled and danced upon he ocean. The whole world was white from its shining.

Unfortunately as beautiful as this star was, it was also very vain. The star would boast about its splendor to the other stars, saying "I am more beautiful than any of you in the jeweled heavens, I am more beautiful than even the gods!"

Such bragging greatly angered the god Tane, who was the guardian of the four pillars of heaven. Tane decided that he would drive this boastful star right out of the sky into the dark regions! Tane asked Sirius and Aldebaran to help him with his plans. Sirius was the second brightest star in the sky and had no sympathy for a rival brighter than himself. And Aldebaran was placed so close to Mata-riki that he was seldom noticed by anyone. Both stars would like nothing better than to see Mata-riki driven from the sky so they were happy to help Tane!

One night, Tane, Sirius and Aldebaran crept up behind Mata-riki and jumped out at him! The poor star was so frightened that he began running and eventually took refuge under a river, the Milky Way. At first he was safe but then Sirius climbed to the source of the Milky Way and diverted the course of the river. As the water drained away, Mata-riki was revealed and had to take flight again.

This time Mata-riki ran all the way under the arches of heaven and beyond the silver palaces of the gods. The star was so fast that it soon was far ahead of its pursuers. It seemed as if Mata-riki would escape, but Tane was one angry god. Tane picked up Aldebaran and hurled him with great force against Mata-riki. Aldebaran struck the giant star so hard that it smashed into six small pieces! But this did at least satisfy Tane and his star friends and they went away.

The six little pieces of star, that had once been the brilliant star in the sky, slowly returned to their place in the sky. Sirius was now the brightest star in the sky, and Aldebaran was not outshone by any star close to him. But Mata-riki, the Little Eyes, continued to shine. They were not as bright as before, but they were still quite noticeable.

Sometimes the Little Eyes whisper proudly to one another that they are more lovely as six than as one! They are too afraid to boast loudly about their beauty but sometimes, when the nights are dark, the Little Eyes come down close to Earth to see their reflection in the ocean, and then they know that they have no equal!


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Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator
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