by smmmarti guide
July 16, 2003
The first order of business was to clear up a misconception. The Tiki Gods positioned at the entrance and rear of the Hale Kahiko are not authentic, as Hawaiians worshiped only spiritual gods, those with natural representation; the wind, the rainbow, the sun, the ocean, the shark, the mele-mele. Tikis are from Tahiti, you see. Though my guide clearly did not like this misrepresentation of the facts, she offered a quick and gracious explanation for the misstep. The man who designated this tribute to the live of pre-contact Hawaiians and their way of life just happened to like the carved wood figures. Who would deny him this indulgence for all he gave in return?
At the Hale Kuku, the women’s and children’s craft house, I learned that women passed their days weaving laulau into mats and vessels, and pounding kapa, a versatile and useful cloth made from the bark of mulberry trees. After the kapa dried, it was decorated using dye made from kukui nuts or breadfruit tree roots. Often the dye was scented with the fragrant maile fern. Examples of all these plants, so important to the indigenous Hawaiians, are represented in the gardens surrounding the hale.
Our next stop was the Hale Moe, or family sleeping quarters. Thatched on three sides, the fourth side was latticed to keep out unwanted visitors, yet allowed plentiful air and light into the structure. Immediate family members slept side by side on woven mats but only the head of the household was allowed the sumptuous bedding made from great mounds of grassy stuffing.
"Wasn’t there enough grass to make everyone comfortable?" I wondered, logically.
"It has always been a man’s world," my laughing host reminded me.
"But here you find good news for the women," she announced as we walked into the Hale Mua. "This is the men’s house. As you see outside the door, the Imu pit is tended by the men, who did all the hunting, food preparation and cooking."
Behind the men’s quarters she excitedly pointed out a small tree laden with ostrich egg sized fruits.
"This is the gourd tree. When these dry, the seeds inside rattle, make music," she said, shaking an example, "music good for hula!" and she launched into a hula demonstration, laughing afterward from the depths of her mana.
At Hale Kahiko, the docent doesn‘t do research to learn the difference between poi and laulau; she simply lives it.
From journal Maui with Keiki