'A Human Sacrifice, in a Morai, in Otaheite', c 1773.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Woollett after Webber, of Captain Cook and his officers watching as a group of Tahitians prepare a man and some pigs for sacrifice. A morai was a sacred place, used for burial and worship. From the portfolio volume of 'Complete History of Captain Cook's First, Second and Third Voyages' (1784). This sacrifice on the island of Otaheite (now known as Tahiti, part of French Polynesia), is one of the events witnesed by Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the famed navigator and hydrographer, during the second of his three exploratory voyages to the Pacific region in 1772-1775 when they crosed latitude 70 degrees - the furthest south then reached by Europeans. These voyages transformed the West's knowledge of the region.