Pareu | Leho & Pūpū ʻalā - orange
The gorgeously feminine leho (cowry) with its beautifully plump and round decorated top, and its toothed slit on the bottom side pretty much screams out sexy. The most famous use of this shell by our kupuna was in luhee (octopus lures). The male pohaku (stone) and the female leho, locked in a lover’s embrace, dance via the skilled hand of the fisherman to seduce the hee (octopus) which becomes so aroused that it must “honi” (kiss) the shell, and when it does, the fisherman yanks firmly upward, lodging the kākala (hook) into the hee. Prized luhee were often named for an ancestor in a family and handed down. Hawaii boasts 35 species of leho, nine of which are endemic and many species belonging to the genera Cypraea and Lyncia. Also featured in this design is one of our favorite cone shell species, Conus textile. Pupu ala is a generic term for cone shells, but a Hawaiian name for this particular species is unknown. Yellowish brown with undulating chocolate lines, this shell also has clusters of small white triangular shapes that look like families of puu (hills). These shells are predatory carnivores with a harpoon-like structure capable of delivering a venomous sting that can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal to humans. Many people in Hawaii have special love for puka shells, which are the broken off spires (tops) of cone shells that usually have a puka (hole) worn in them or drilled in by a hungry hee.