Ka Hoomana Kahiko, Helu 30 / Old Worship, Number 30

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Ka Hoomana Kahiko, Helu 30 / Old Worship, Number 30

[Remainder from Issue 48]


This is a circuiting god, called Lono by Hawaiians. For his frequent circuit every year, he is called Lonoikamakahiki. The form of this god is wood that is hollowed out, and placed on the top of it are the greens of the forest. Bird feathers are plaited over the timber until it is completely adorned, and it is set on the necks of the people who will transport it to every place of Hawai‘i. They walk until the boundary between two lands where the god stops and the commoners and the chiefs bring pig, taro, and every kind of thing and give tribute there.

The right side of this wooden god is sacred and the area to the left is free from restriction. If it is a man who goes on the right side, that man becomes the god’s own and the same goes for a woman; they will accompany the god, following it to every place the god will go and carrying it upon their shoulders. If a chicken, pig or dog enters the sacred side, these animals are consecrated for the god and seized as food for the people following the god. And because of the massive amounts of food and other presents given for the god, the boast of these people arose like this, “We can take our time as we encircle Hawai‘i, such a big island”.


If the ancients were thinking to farm, there was a kapu for doing this. The kapu related to the farming god, Kūkeolomalu, and another name for him is Kūka‘ō‘ō. (This is a god that makes crops grow.) Kānepua‘a is the god who causes fruition on branches, mounded soil and for root crops. Prayer goes like this, “O Kānepua‘a, root about inland, root about toward the shore, root to the east, root in this garden of ours so to bear fruit in the mound, to bear fruit at the base, to bear fruit every where. Don’t root in someone else’s garden lest you be poked by the digging stick.”


This practice is sacred to the people who are training. If a person was going to fish, he commanded his wife like this, “Sit quietly. Make no mischief in our house. Don’t make mischief with others. Close up our house.” The man went to fish and if the fishing line was severed, that man would think the wife had misbehaved. Also, if the fish was lost, he would think the wife had cheated and would immediately return to beat his wife.

A person who crossed their hands behind their back was taboo, as no fish would be caught. If the fisherman saw this, he immediately returned home and didn’t go to fish.

When fishing for baby fishes, ‘ōhua, it isn’t right to exclaim when seeing the abundance of fish. This is very kapu and will certainly make the fish disappear, and definitely not enter the net. Instead, this is what should be said, “This is some dirt.” “This is truly trash.” And that is how Kū‘ula, the god of the fishermen, would say it.


When the bird catcher would go into the mountains, the wife was extremely kapu and must not misbehave but should just sit quietly at the house. Any mischief of the wife could not be concealed, it was known by the manner of the birds’ actions. If the man thought his wife was misbehaving then he immediately returned, for his birds would not be caught or snared in the net. Kāneholopali is the god of the bird catchers and the people who hike in the mountains.


This practice is very sacred. It isn’t done out in the open, but requires a solitary place. Also, a stranger shouldn’t enter this work place of a woman making kapa so the door is propped closed with a stick. The reason for doing it like this is that the beaten kapa will tear, will not hold together, and the hands will be lazy. Lauhuki is the deity of the kapa beaters; La‘ahana is the deity of the printers; ‘Ehu is the deity of the dyers.


This was a very sacred profession in olden times. This is one way it went – they inserted some fish under the place where the pillar of the house would stand, but only on the eastern post. The fish that were placed were the āholehole or the kole.  If the expert should peer in and inspect, any man who might incur misfortune would die. Another kapu is the impropriety of anyone climbing up and looking at the roof of the house while the expert is thatching the roof. This is a grave mistake. It would only be appropriate if the person climbed up with a thatch bundle. Another kapu is when the thatcher places the grass on the piko of the house (the navel, namely the place directly above the door). It should not be cut until the day that the house feast is held and then the piko of the house is severed. The reason for doing it like this is so that the person building the house won't become lazy or go off to do another house and so forth.


If one was thinking of learning medical practices, he will be very sacred – he must not be involved in any mischief until the ‘ailolo ceremony and that is when he is free [of kapu].

Going to see the sick person and gathering the plants is highly restricted; the work of an expert, only the sick and expert are there. Uli is the deity of those who practice sorcery and Kūwahailo is another. In all professions of Hawai‘i, they were only taught under kapu. Where did these practices come from? From ignorance, from simple fear, from a desire for evil and living in filth. This is the only reason for the different kapu. There are many other kapu remaining.

P.W. Kaawa

Wailuku, Dec. 29, 1865.




(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, December 9, 1865
, Book: 4, Number: 49, Page: 1