/man"ay/, n.

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Among Polynesian and Melanesian peoples, a supernatural force or power that may be ascribed to persons, spirits, or inanimate objects.

Mana may be either good or evil, beneficial or dangerous, but it is not impersonal; it is never spoken of except in connection with powerful beings or things. The term was first used in the 19th century in the West in connection with religion, but mana is now regarded as a symbolic way of expressing the special qualities attributed to persons of status in a hierarchical society, of providing sanction for their actions, and of explaining their failures. See also animism.

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      town, northwestern French Guiana, on the south bank of the Mana River, near its mouth on the Atlantic coast. It originated in 1830 around an orphanage founded by a French nun and, after 1848, also served as a refuge for runaway and newly emancipated slaves. The site of a large leprosarium, its economy is basically agricultural, including sugarcane and cattle. Pop. (1982) mun. 1,721.

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