CLOSE
Original image

The Most Frightening Dance You'll Ever See

Original image

Ed note: This post has been sponsored by the Warner Brother's film Invictus, out on DVD and Blu-ray on May 18th. Be sure to keep an eye out for a rugby quiz tomorrow, and if you haven't already, enter our best-rugby-stories contest here.

by Chris Connolly

The haka is the most frightening dance you'll ever see. And that's its purpose. It is a Maori war dance, and each violent movement is designed to intimidate the enemy.

haka.jpgLined up in rows facing their opponents, dancers chant and stomp passionately while slapping their elbows, chests, and thighs. They bulge their eyes, wag their tongues, and twist their faces into scowls. To dance the haka, one needs to exude total confidence and commitment, and for years, it was the ultimate way for the Maori to ready themselves for battle.

Before New Zealand was colonized in the mid-1800s, the Maori used the haka to prepare for intertribal warfare. But after the British moved in, the dance found a new purpose—helping to fire up rebellions against Europeans settlers. Unfortunately, the dance was no match for their enemy's firearms. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Maori had lost most of their ancestral lands, and their culture was quickly fading. War and sickness had whittled down their population to fewer than 50,000 people.

Fortunately, a resilient group of Maori leaders emerged from this bleak landscape to defend their people's way of life. Specifically, an inspirational activist named Apirana Ngata engineered reforms that increased Maori political power and preserved Maori customs. Slowly, results began to show—and the proof was in the haka.

all-blacks.jpg

In 1905, New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team (above) performed the dance as a warm-up while on tour in England. The team, which included both Maori and white players, represented all of New Zealand, and so did the haka. Some members of the British audience were baffled and outraged by the chant, but most appreciated the power of the ritual and the way it excited players and fans alike. Since then, the haka has become not only the All Blacks' trademark, but also a symbol of New Zealand unity. The dance is performed at government functions and cultural events, and it's even returned to the battlefield, albeit in a different form. The New Zealand military has scripted its own haka, which begins and ends with performances by female soldiers, as a nod to their role in protecting the country. The dance that used to stir men to war has become a symbol for equality and peace. Once a show of Maori defiance, today, the haka stands for New Zealand's solidarity. [Image courtesy of Archives.govt.nz.]

The Rugby Salute to Women

There have been many variations of the haka throughout history, but the most famous is the All Blacks' trademark rugby dance, Ka Mate. It tells the story of a great Maori chief named Te Rauparaha and his daring escape from a rival tribe. While hiding in a sweet potato pit, Te Rauparaha's enemies began chanting incantations to draw him out. But before the magic could take effect, the wife of a friendly chief blocked Te Rauparaha from the spells using the potent power of her female sexuality. Te Rauparaha was saved, and he was so thrilled by his narrow escape that he composed Ka Mate. The lyrics were later adopted by the All Blacks for their pre-game haka, and a tradition was born. When performed by 20 or more heavily muscled rugby players, this tribute to women is one of the most compelling sights in sports.

Don't Mess With Texas' Haka

Sports teams are some of the most superstitious groups in the world. If something works for one team, you're bound to see others trying out the same thing. So it has gone for the All Blacks' rugby haka. Nowadays, copycat dances have emerged in some unexpected places—from the University of Hawaii to the Mormon haven of Utah's Brigham Young University.

Perhaps most notable, however, is the hakamania of Euless, Texas. During the past 20 years, about 4,000 people migrated there from the Pacific island nation of Tonga, but they never quite felt like they belonged. That is, until the glorious day when their sons and grandsons began warming up Euless' Trinity High School football games with the haka. Tonga and Maori share a common Polynesian lineage, so the new residents felt right at home. Before long, Texas football fans of all races were chanting the words in unison with the players and sporting T-shirts that read "Got Haka?" The dance promoted team unity and, apparently, also terrified the competition. In 2005, Trinity High School won the state football championship. Here's a recent clip:

See Also: The Rugby Rivalry that Brought New Zealand to the Brink of Civil War

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
Original image
iStock

Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

Original image
GraveDiggerCandles
arrow
Lists
10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
Original image
GraveDiggerCandles

Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).

1. KISA CANDLE

PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.

2. BRAIN CANDLE

Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.

3. HUMAN SPINE CANDLES

Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.

4. OUIJA BOARD CANDLE

LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.

5. BLEEDING HEART CANDLE

Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.

6. PICK YOUR POISON CANDLES

Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.

7. CREEPY WOODS & GRAVEYARD DIRT CANDLE

Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.

8. WITCH FARTS CANDLE

Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”

9. GHOST REPELLENT CANDLE

Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.

10. ZOMBIE GOLDEN GIRLS PRAYER CANDLE SET

Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios