He lanikuʻuwaʻa ko Kalalau - Kalalau has a wind named Lanikuʻuwaʻa. These words come from a chant done by Kuapākaʻa when he and his father, Pākaʻa, meet Keawenuiaʻumiʻs fleet of canoes at sea. It is one of over a hundred winds that Kuapākaʻa chants before opening the wind gourd of Laʻamaomao and unleashing a furious storm as part of an elaborate plan to force the chief and his party to land on Molokai. It is also one of over a thousand winds named by our kūpuna. Careful observation and the forging of deep relationships with the world around them yielded countless names for winds and rains, each with its own nature, belonging to a certain place that had also been denominated. Kalalau valley on Kauaʻi is one of the crowning emeralds of Hawaiʻi. Once home to Hawaiian people and kalo cultivation, Kalalau is now a state park. Many of the loʻi walls have been destroyed by cattle and invasive species such as Java Plum (Syzygium cumini). Feral goats have caused massive erosion problems and damage to the native flora (an unchecked population of thousands roams the Na Pali coast). Rogue campers and illegal residents contribute to the degradation of cultural sites and the ecological issues the valley now faces as a major tourist destination. Unceasing waves of change have modified Kalalau and most other places in Hawaiʻi. Our winds and rains remain, however, like voices of the past, reminding us of what came before, urging us to keep that knowledge alive.
The most popular flower in all of Hawaiian poetry must surely be the gorgeous and charismatic lehua. Sweetheart, beloved friend or relative, and expert are just a few of the figurative definitions of this word. The metaphorical uses are many and found in innumerable compositions both old and new. Can you even count how many songs you know or have heard that talk about the mist settling on the lehua blossom? And what about the variety of colors of the lehua, including the mysterious lehua kea (white lehua)? Do you think Lehua, the woman, was happy to be turned into the bright red blossom after jealous Pele turned the man who loved her into the ʻōhiʻa tree? Could you imagine arriving at the spring Koʻolihilihi to find the makaloa bedecked with lehua blossoms to tickle your cheeks as you partake in the cool water? Moʻolelo abound regarding lehua. The flower and tree (also called ʻōhiʻa lehua) are as ubiquitous in culture as they are on the ʻāina. They occur from mountains to ocean, wet to dry, in a variety of forms, earning them the scientific name Metrosideros polymorpha (polymorpha = "many forms"). The wood of the ʻōhiʻa has many practical uses from kiʻi (carved images) to house rafters to canoe parts (and much more). The lehua and the leaves of the ʻōhiʻa are also known to be medicinal. Ka pua nēnē hiwa - The beloved flower.
Hawaiʻi has 22 endemic species of palms belonging to the genus Pritchardia. They occur on Nihoa and throughout the main Hawaiian islands from the sea to the mountains (as high as 6,500 ft. in Kohala). Approximately half of these species are threatened, rare or endangered, due to habitat loss as well as the fact that their seeds, called hāwane or wāhane, are delicious to rats. Mamo birds and people of old also dined on these delicious nuts. From the wood of the trunk our kūpuna fashioned a spear called an ʻauʻau that had shark's teeth at one end. They used the large, fanlike leaves as roof thatching and to weave hats with (paʻaoloulu are the young leaves used for this). Nā ʻēheu o Kana - the wings of Kana - is a reference to a legend about a man named by this name who strapped the leaves of the loulu palm to his arms and flew from Molokai's north shore cliffs down onto Huelo islet. There, he dropped his wings (ʻēheu) and the loulu forests grew up. Today, Huelo and neighboring islet Mōkapu are the main habitats for Pritchardia hillebrandii (a.k.a. loulu lelo), one of four species endemic to Molokai (P. forbesiana, P. lowreyana, and P. munroi are the others).
Ou kino, e Kāne i ka ʻōlapa o ka uila, i ka lapa mauna e kū ai ka ʻohe niolo, i ka lapa ʻohe miu e hoʻonani ai i ka ʻaʻahu o ke aliʻi! ʻO ko mākou wahi kānaenae e kau aʻela i luna, he aloha a he mahalo ia i ke akua nona ka ʻohe. ʻO ka lāʻau nō ia a nā loea e hoʻolilo aku ai i mea hana no ke kaha hoʻonaninani ʻana i ke kapa, ʻo ia hoʻi ka lapa. Lapalapa ke ahi o loko ke ʻike aku ka maka i nā lau kuapapa a kupanaha a nā kūpuna i hana aku ai me ua mea hana ʻohe nei, a pēlā i ulu aʻe ai ka ʻiʻini haku lau i loko o mākou. ʻO ka mea hilu loa, he wahi ʻāpana ʻohe ka lapa akā he kini a lehu nā nani a ka lima mikiʻoi e hana aku ai ma o nei kinolau nohea o Kāne. ʻAʻole naʻe e poina a hoʻohemahema i ka inoa o Laʻahana, kekahi o nā kaikamāhine o Maikohā i lilo i ʻaumakua no ka poʻe hoʻonoʻenoʻe a kāpala i ke kapa. Iā ia paha ke kalokalo ʻana i nani kūpono kahi lau, i maiau a maʻemaʻe nō hoʻi ka hana a ka lima. A pēlā nō nā kūpuna nāna nā kapa nani ʻoi kelakela e waiho nei ma nā hale hōʻikeʻike o ka honua. Ma laila nō e ʻike ai i ke kūlana kiʻekiʻe o ka hana lapa, a he hōʻike nō ia i ka noʻeau a me nā ʻano nani i mahalo ʻia e nā kānaka ma mua o ka hiki ʻana mai o ko waho. Ke ʻike kākou i ia mau kapa kahiko, he mea paha ia e hoʻākea aku ai i ko kākou manaʻo no ia mea he kapa, a no ka mea ma mua o ka laha ʻana o ka ʻohe kāpala, ʻo ka lapa ka mea i hoʻohana nui ʻia.
If we look back to the earliest roots of kapa designs, we find the visually stunning aesthetic our kūpuna created with lapa. Lapa are bamboo tools (aka “liners”) used to decorate kapa. Some resemble a knife and are used to make a single line. Others look like forks with anywhere from two to eight “tines” (prongs), or possibly more, for making multiple lines at once. They are dipped into printing ink then pulled across the surface of a kapa. The tines also vary in thickness and spacing, allowing for endless combinations of lines. The oldest surviving kapa show us this was the prominent technique for applying design before any outside influences and prior to ʻohe kāpala becoming predominant. Some pieces were decorated exclusively with stripes of varying widths and colors. Other times an artist used a straight edge (also bamboo) to lay down bold geometric shapes, then filled them with more lines (straight and wavy), dots and other hand-accents. These techniques produced a spectacular array of designs, many of them several layers deep. The sophisticated compositions of these early pieces challenge our perceptions of Hawaiian aesthetics and show us just how intricate and imbricate design was prior to western contact. Unfortunately, many of the best examples of designs made with this simple, but elegant technology now live in overseas museums and photographs are our only point of access.
If there is any iʻa (marine life form) that just screams out sexy, it is the gorgeously feminine leho (cowry). Hawaiʻi boasts 35 species of leho, nine of which are endemic. It is debatable which part of the shell is more attractive, the beautifully plump and round decorated top, or the toothed slit on the bottom side (a feature unique to cowries). Some feel the most stunning aspect is the soft fleshy mantle that comes out of the shell's opening and wraps around it, secreting a substance that forms a protective enamel and gives cowries the glossy sheen they are so famous for. If that is not enough, the "hula ʻālaʻapapa" that the lūheʻe (octopus lure) performs, via the skilled hand of the fisherman, to entice the heʻe (octopus) has to be one of the most romantic fishing traditions ever. The male pōhaku (stone) and the female leho, locked in a lover's embrace, dance to seduce the octopus who becomes so aroused that it must "honi" (kiss) the shell. When it does, the fisherman yanks firmly upward, lodging the kākala (hook) into the heʻe. Prized lūheʻe were often named for an ancestor in a family and handed down. Auē kou popohe, kou ʻauliʻi ē! My goodness how shapely, how exquisite you are! Though leho are some of the most stunning shells to be collected, over-harvesting of live shells has caused their overall size to decrease and their populations to dwindle. Let's mālama our leho by leaving the living treasures alone and taking only empty hale (houses) home with us.
Lehua maka noe
Though the native species of the genus Lysimachia (many of them rare or endangered) are small and sort of inconspicuous shrubs that are easily missed by the untrained eye, the beauty of their blossoms is forever burned into the mind of those lucky enough to catch a glimpse. Their petals are a deep wine to purple red with beautifully prominent veins. The design on the garment you are holding is a tribute to two of the endemic species in this genus: Lysimachia ﬁlifolia, an extremely rare species which clings to the faces of waterfalls in windward Oahu, and Lysimachia remyi, which dwells in the wet cliffs or rock walls of mid-elevation habitats on both Molokai and Maui. It is our hope that these species and their habitats will be protected and cared for for generations to come. Each unique species we lose is a small part of ourselves that is forever gone. Ka pua ʻula hiwa i ka ʻohu o ka pali, me ʻoe nō kuʻu aloha - Precious deep red blossom adorned by the mist of the high cliffs, with you dwells my affection.
Our kūpuna intricately divided land and sea, naming each division for activities done there, certain characteristics, or for things that swim, grow, or otherwise exist there. They did the same with the space around us, forming a complex 3D map. Highlighted here are two sets of divisions. The lani, or sky spaces, begin with the kumulani (horizon), upon which the paiakualani (walls of the sky) rest. Above that are other sky spaces including the lani paa, the track along which all celestial bodies travel. We can think of these lani as forming a dome shape over us, under which are the lewa or airspaces closer to humans. The lewa closest to earth is the lewa hoomakua, the space formed when we lift one foot off the ground. When we hang from a tree, we hang in the hakaalewa. Birds fly in the lewa nuu. The highest lewa is the lewa lani, the closest one to the lani. When we look into these lewa and lani today we observe the same incredible celestial phenomena that our kūpuna did, the same beings and elemental powers they acknowledged as their lifelines and guidance in maintaining a thriving society and culture here in Hawaiʻi. *Spellings and divisions of words are as they appear in the Hawaiian-language newspaper article by Samuel Kamakau. Additional sets of terms can be found in the writings of other authors.
Iā Mailekaluhea lā e lāhai ana i luna, e naʻi ana i ka pōʻiuʻiu o ka lewa, ua walea wale ʻo ia i ka ʻīnikiniki ʻana mai o ka huʻi miki a ka ua ʻawa i kona ʻili. ʻIlihia lā hoʻi ke anaina o lalo i ka hana a nei kupua e linohau ana i ka ʻahuʻula hoʻokalakupua, e lanakila ana hoʻi ma luna o ke kaikamahine koa o ka hoʻolele lupe ʻana, a pēlā i ola ai kona hoa paio i pili i kona mau iwi ma ua hoʻokūkū hoʻolele lupe nei. Mai kēlā mua aku, ua kapa ʻia ka inoa o ia ʻāina, kahi o kēia hoʻokūkū kaulana, ʻo Wailupe. He wai hoʻi ia e hoʻohāliʻaliʻa mai ana i ka mōkila lʻu wai o Wailua, ʻo Kaweloleimakua hoʻi, ka mea nāna i hoʻowiʻuwiʻu i ka lupe a ke keiki aliʻi, a Kauahoa, a moku ihola ke kaula, a lilo akula i ka makani. Kani ka pihe o kānaka i ka ʻike ʻana i ke akamai a me ka maʻalea o Kawelo. ʻO ia maʻalea like paha ke ʻano o nā kahuna ma ko lākou kāhea ʻana iā Lōlupe, ke akua kino lupe, ka mea e alakaʻi i nā ʻuhane e ʻimi ana e hōʻino i ke aliʻi i ka make. ʻO nā ʻuhane maikaʻi hoʻi, alakaʻi ʻia akula i ke ola. Ola mau ʻo Heʻeia iā Lupe Kiaʻi Nui, ka hīhīmanu hanohano, kaulana hoʻi i kona lele maoli ʻana aʻe i ka lewa, i mea e e alualu a e hoʻokuke aku ai i nā iʻa kūpono ʻole i komo hewa i ka loko iʻa. ʻEhia nō naʻi ʻana o nā kūpuna i nei mea noʻeau ʻo ka hoʻolele lupe!
Pā mai, pā mai ka makani o Hilo! ʻO ka ipu nui, lawea mai! ʻO ka ipu iki waiho aku! Blow, blow, wind of Hilo! Bring the big gourd and leave the small one! That is how to raise the wind for kite-flying, which was a fun activity in olden times, but also a way to fish and a tool used by kahuna. Lōlupe is the god whose form is a kite. He was called upon to ensnare spirits trying to harm chiefs and to transform the ruling chief into a deified ancestor after death. Death could have been the outcome for the girl who bet her bones in a kite-flying contest, but her newfound friend, Mailekaluhea, donned a magical feather cape and flew high in the sky like a kite. This won the bet, saved the girl's life, and Wailupe became the new name of the land where this famed contest took place. Kites were made from kapa and light woods (like ʻohe and hau) and the string was made of olonā. Mary Kawena Pukui identifies certain main kite shapes (lupe lā, lupe mahina, lupe manu, lupe maoli) and specific names for the hānai (body shape) of kites are found in the stories of our kūpuna.
E nai ana i ka pōʻiuʻiu - Reaching the highest heights.
These shells, known by the common name cowries, are some of the most beautiful iʻa (marine life forms) in our islands. Hawaiʻi boasts 35 species of leho, nine of which are endemic, and many species belonging to the genera Cypraea and Lyncia. Leho have a decorated top and a toothed opening on the bottom side (a feature unique to cowries). It has a soft fleshy mantle (part of the animal that lives inside) that comes out of the shell's opening and wraps around it, coating the shell's outside in layers of protective enamel. This is what gives cowries the glossy sheen they are so famous for. These gorgeous shells come out at night to feed. Some eat limu, or seaweed (using their radula - a band of tiny scraping teeth), while others also consume sponges and various organisms. The female leho sits on her eggs, much the way a bird does, till they hatch and enter the planktonic stage. Eventually they settle somewhere and grow. Hawaiians eat leho and use the shells as scrapers. They also use them for lūheʻe (octopus lures). Back in the day, certain leho were smoked over a fire to achieve the right color for catching heʻe at a particular time of day. Though leho are some of the most stunning shells to be collected, over-harvesting of live shells has caused their overall size to decrease and their populations to dwindle. Let's mālama our leho by leaving the living treasures alone and taking only empty hale (houses) home with us. Auē kou popohe, kou ʻauliʻi ē! My goodness how shapely, how exquisite you are!
The lines full of motion that make up this design are our interpretation of the much sought after limu ʻeleʻele (Enteromorpha [Ulva] prolifera). People describe the way this limu sways and moves with the flow of the water to be like strands of waving emerald hair. Nā maʻawe māewa o ka wai kai - The swaying strands of the brackish water - is an ʻōlelo that speaks not only to the way this species moves, but also where it is found. Limu ʻeleʻele only grows where fresh and sea water are allowed to mingle, a perfect example of why streams are meant to flow uninterrupted to the ocean. Diversion and de-watering of streams and other waterways has reduced the overall amount of habitat where limu ʻeleʻele can grow. Poor water quality also hampers the ability of this species to flourish. These are reminders that how we care for both our oceans and fresh water resources affects our ability to have access to this particular food long loved by our ancestors. Despite its decreasing availability, those who can still get it today savor its wonderful flavor, whether alone or with modern foods such as beef stew. Our kūpuna also used limu ʻeleʻele as a poultice on the skin to treat boils and mixed it with limu pālāwai and salt to treat cuts.
The most popular flower in all of Hawaiian poetry is surely the gorgeous and charismatic lehua. Legend says that Lehua, a woman, was turned into the bright red blossom after jealous Pele turned her lover into the ʻōhiʻa tree. So, sweetheart, beloved friend or relative and expert are just a few of the figurative definitions of this word. Metaphorical uses of lehua are found in innumerable stories and songs both old and new. Can you even count how many mele you've heard that talk about the mist settling on the lehua blossom? And what about the many colors of lehua, including the mysterious lehua kea (white lehua)? Imagine arriving at the spring Koʻolihilihi to find the makaloa bedecked with lehua blossoms to tickle your cheeks as you partake in the cool water! The lehua flower and the ʻōhiʻa tree are as ubiquitous in our culture as they are on the ʻāina. ʻŌhiʻa occurs from mountains to ocean and wet to dry in a variety of forms, thus the scientific name Metrosideros polymorpha (polymorpha = many forms). Its wood was used for images, house rafters, canoe parts and much more. The lehua and the leaves of the ʻōhiʻa are also known to be medicinal.
E kiliʻopu ana nō me ka lehua kilipohe - Absorbed in pleasure with the moist and shapely lehua.
The lines full of motion that make up this design are our interpretation of the much sought after limu ʻeleʻele (Enteromorpha prolifera). People describe the way this limu sways and moves with the flow of the water, like emerald strands of hair. Nā maʻawe māewa o ka wai kai - The swaying strands of the brackish water - is an ʻōlelo that speaks to the way this species moves as well as where it is found. ʻEleʻele only grows where fresh and sea water are allowed to mingle. Thus, the diversion of streams and other waterways has reduced the overall amount of habitat where ʻeleʻele can grow. Poor water quality also hampers the ability of this species to flourish. These are reminders that how we care for both our oceans and fresh water resources affects our ability to enjoy this particular food long loved by our ancestors. It is still enjoyed by people today, especially with beef stew. Our kūpuna also used ʻeleʻele as a poultice on the skin to treat boils, or mixed it with limu pālāwai and salt and applied it to cuts.