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culture on maui
Hawaiian history
Maui's people
Hawaiian Language
Hawaiian Culture

culture on maui

Maui has a long history and a very active cultural scene with dozens of activities, museums and events. It's all available on our Maui HI! Tour Guide CD-ROM (click here to see it) Here are the main things you will want to know to understand Maui and its people.


The Hawaiian Islands
Scientists say that 30 million years ago the Hawaiian Islands were magma bubbling 20,000 feet below the surface of the sea. Layers of lava were laid down until an island rose above the surface of the sea. The fissure that fed the lava flow crept southwest, bursting out again and again to build the Hawaiian island chain. Today, more than 130 islands, islets, and shoals make up the Hawaiian Islands, stretching 1,600 miles across North Pacific.

The center of activity is now under the Big Island. Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes regularly add more land and the state grows bigger. About 30 miles southeast of the Big island is Loihi Sea Mount 3,000 feet below the waves. Eruptions are bringing it closer and closer to the surface. One day it will become the newest Hawaiian island.

The Hawaiian Islands are shield volcanoes, huge mounds of cooled basaltic lava surrounded by coral reefs.. The giant tube that carried lava to the surface sank in and formed a caldera or crater. Haleakala’s crater could hold all of Manhattan Island. Wind and water took over and sculpted the raw lava into deep crevices and cuts that become valleys.

The Island Of Maui

Lava flows in two types: a'a and pa'hoehoe. A'a' is extremely rough and spiny, and will tear up your shoes if you do much hiking over it. Don’t fall down. Pa'hoehoe is billowy, ropey and molds itself into fantastic shapes. You’ll see both on hikes through Maui.

Maui is the second largest and second youngest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It is made up of two volcanoes: the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala. The West Maui Mountains are much older than Haleakala. They are joined by lava flows that form a connecting isthmus. Puu Kukui, at 5,778 feet, is the tallest peak of the West Maui Mountains scarred by a series of deep crags, valleys, and gorges. Haleakala is younger with smooth, rounded features, reaching 10,023 feet above sea level.

The two volcanoes of Maui form 728.8 square miles of land with 120 linear miles of coastline. Maui is 25 miles wide from north to south, and 40 miles wide east to west.

The West Maui Mountains contain resort communities from Kapalua through Ka’anapali. Sugar cane fields used to fringe the mountain side of the road, while condos are strung along the shore. Lahaina is where it's "happening" on West Maui, with crafts, museums, historical sites, restaurants, and night spots. Lahaina was a playground for royal Hawaiian ali'i, then by Yankee whalers and the tradition lives on.

A low flat isthmus, planted mostly in sugar cane, connects West Maui to East Maui. The little port of Maalaea starts the string of condos and strip malls fronted by beaches that is Kihei and Wailea. Across the isthmus are the twin cities of Wailuku, the county seat, and Kahului with the Maui airport.

The geology of Haleakala includes alpine terrain, desert, jungle, pastureland, and wasteland. The temperature ranges from subfreezing to subtropical. Along the east shore, you'll find beaches, windsurfing, artist villages and small towns. Follow Route 360 around more than 600 curves and 50 bridges and you come to Hana. Farther along is the Oheo Stream with its more than seven pools. Along the southwest shore, there are the condos and shopping centers of Kihei and the elegant hotels and residences of Wailea.

On Haleakala's flanks are cowboy towns complete with rodeos along with carnation and protea farms. When you reach the summit of Haleakala, you’re in a beautiful, magical, austere and freezing cold world. Stand on the crater rim watching a sunrise or sunset and feel the heart of Maui.

Rivers And Lakes
Maui has no rivers but hundreds of streams. The two largest are Palikea Stream running through Kipahulu Valley, making the Oheo Gulch, and the lao Stream, which has carved the lao Valley. The only natural body of water is the 41-acre Kanaha Pond, a bird and wildlife sanctuary on the edge of Kahului. Be aware that streams and rivulets can quickly turn from trickles to torrents, causing flash floods.

Tsunami is the Japanese word for tidal wave. A tsunami is actually a sea wave that has been generated by an earthquake that may have its origins thousands of miles away in South America or Alaska. Some waves have been clocked at speeds up to 500 miles per hour. The safest place is high ground well away from beach areas or out on the open ocean. A tidal wave is only dangerous when it reaches land. The worst tsunami to strike Maui in modern times occurred on April 1, 1946.

Earthquake rumblings are a concern in Hawaii because they cause tsunamis. If you ever feel a tremor and are close to a beach, get to higher country as fast as possible. The last major quake occurred on the Big Island in late November 1975, reaching 7.2 on the Richter scale and causing many millions of dollars' worth of damage in the island's southern regions. Maui, like the rest of the state, has an elaborate warning system against natural disasters. Loudspeakers high on poles along many beaches and coastal areas warn of tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. They are tested at 11 a.m. on the first working day of each month. All island telephone books contain a civil defense warning and procedures section. Note the maps showing which areas traditionally have been inundated by tsunamis, and what procedures to follow in case an emergency occurs.

The weather on Maui depends more on where you are than on the season. The average yearly daytime temperature is around 80 degrees F. and is moderated by the tradewinds. Nights are just a few degrees cooler. Altitude drastically affects the weather. Expect an average drop of 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of elevation. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was on Haleakala in 1961, when the mercury dropped to a low 11 degrees.

Somewhere on Maui it's raining almost every day, while other areas experience drought. Lahaina (meaning "Merciless Sun") is hot, arid and gets only 17 inches of rainfall a year. Puu Kukui, seven miles away, can receive close to 40 feet of rain a year.

Maui Weather
Lowest temperatures on record:
Haleakala summit 14 degrees
Kahului Airport 48
Kihei 49
Hana 50
Lahaina 52
Highest temperatures on record
Kihei 98
Kahului Airport 96
Lahaina 93
Hana 90

Sunniest neighborhoods
Napili beaches
Five miles either side of Olowalu
From Kihei to Makena

Cloudiest neighborhoods
West Maui mountains
Keanae and Wailua
Hawaiian History

Hawaiian history begins with the Kumulipo, an ancient song which tells of the demigod Maui. Maui was a prankster and a Polynesian Hercules. He fished up the islands of Hawaii from the ocean floor, got fire from a tricky mud hen, lifted the sky so humans could walk upright, and slowed down the sun-god by lassoing his genitals with a rope of his sister's pubic hair. This last feat was from the summit of Haleakala, giving us more time in the day to fish and to dry tapa. The island of Maui is the only island in Hawaii and throughout Polynesia named after a god and became known as "Maui no kalua oi" ("Maui is the best!")

The Hawaiians worshiped Madame Pele, the fire-goddess. Her name translates equally as “volcano,'' "fire pit," or "eruption of lava." When she was angry, she complained by spitting fire which cooled and formed land.

The Kumulipo sings that Maui was the second island child of Wakea and Papa. The island was a powerful kingdom. Wars raged and kings ruled Maui and Lanai and Kahoolawe. A royal road, called the Alaloa, encircled the island. Only a few portions remain on East Maui.

The white men began to arrive in the late 1700’s. Missionaries, whalers, and the Hawaiian kings of the Kamehameha line made Lahaina their center. For about 50 years, Maui blossomed. Missionaries built the first permanent stone structures in the islands. A school at Lahainaluna attracted students even from California. Hale Pai, famous printing press brought money and cultured. The sugar industry began in Hana. Fortunes were made and the plantation system began. By the 1900’s, the whaling industry faded away and Oahu became the the center of power. Maui only revived in the 1960’s when tourists rediscovered that Maui is
“no kalua oi.”.

Maui's Great Kings
Internal turmoil raged in Hawaii just before discovery by Capt. Cook in 1778. Shortly after contact, the great Kamehameha would rise and consolidate all the islands under one rule, but i

In the 1770’s, King Kahekili ruled Maui except for the Hana district which was ruled by Kalaniopuu of Hawaii. Hana was the birthplace of Queen Kaahumanu, King Kamehameha's favorite wife. In 1776, Kalaniopuu invaded Maui. His forces were annihilated by Kahekili's warriors near Wailuku, which means "Bloody Waters."
On November 26, 1778, Capt. Cook spotted Maui, but bypassed it because he couldn’t find a suitable anchorage.

In May 28,1786, a French expedition led by Commander La Perouse came ashore near Lahaina after finding safe anchorage at what became known as La Perouse Bay. Maui soon became a regular port of call. In 1790.

Kamehameha finally defeated Kahekili's forces at lao Needle and brought Maui under his domain. The great warrior Kahekili was absent from the battle, in which Kamehameha used a cannon from the Fair American, a small ship seized a few years before.

Maui's Rise
In 1802 Kamehameha stopped in Lahaina with an enormous fleet of war canoes on his way to conquer Oahu. He stayed for over a year collecting taxes and building his "Brick Palace" at Lahaina. In 1819 the first whaler stopped at Lahaina and began the rise of Hawaii as the capital of the whaling industry. At its height, over 500 ships visited Lahaina in a year.

The Missionaries
In 1823 the first Christian mission was built in Lahaina and Queen Kapiolani, the first great convert to Christianity, died. The whalers fought the interference of the missionaries including a naval bombardment of Reverend Richards home. Eventually, the missionaries became reconciled with the sailors, who donated funds to build the Seamen's Chapel.

By the late 1860s, the whaling industry was dead, but sugar would rise to take its place. The first successful sugar plantation was started in 1849 along the Hana coast, and the first great sugar mill was started in 1861. Claus Spreckels built the Haiku Ditch in 1878. This 30-mile ditch brought 50 million gallons of water a day from Haiku to Puunene.

Maui’s people

Hawaii is the most racially integrated state in the Union. We have every major race and over 50 ethnic groups. About 60% of the people living in Hawaii were born there, 25% were born on the mainland U.S., and 15% of the people are foreign born.

In 1876, there were only 55,000 permanent residents in the islands. The population of Hawaii has been growing steadily ever since. The large sugar plantations were the cause for bringing in people from around the world. Of the one million people in the islands today, 800,000 (80%) live on Oahu, 93,000 (9.3%) on Hawaii, 63,000 (6.3%) on Maui, 40,000 on Kauai, Molokai with 6,000; and Lanai with 2,000. The population density is 164 people per square mile, equal to California's.

When Capt. Cook first sighted Hawaii in 1778, there were about 300,000 natives living in harmony with their surroundings. Within 100 years only 50,000 Hawaiians existed. Today, 115,000 people claim degrees of Hawaiian blood, but fewer than 1,000 are pure Hawaiian. People of Hawaiian lineage can be bitter over what they have lost. The Hawaiian legacy of simplicity, love of the land, acceptance of people and aloha remains and adds that special quality that is Hawaii.

Polynesian Roots
The Polynesians are believed to be nomadic wanderers who migrated from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia through Indonesia, where they learned to sail and navigate on protected waterways. As they moved, they absorbed people from other cultures and races until they became today’s Polynesians. .

They arrived in Hawaii around A.D. 600. The settlers of Hawaii probably came from the Marquesas Islands, 1,000 miles south and a few hundred miles east of Hawaii.

The Caste System
Hawaiian society was divided by a strict caste system based on birth. The highest rank was the ali'i, the chiefs and royalty. Rank passed from both father and mother. A kahuna was a highly skilled person whose advice was sought before any major project was undertaken. Besides this priesthood of kahuna, there were kahuna who commoners. The two most important were the healers and the black magicians.

The common people were called the maka'ainana, the farmers, craftsmen, and fishermen. All land was owned by the ali’i, but commoners were not bound to it. If the local ali'i was cruel or unfair, they had the right to leave and live on another's lands. All maka'ainana formed extended families called ohana and they usually lived on the same section of land.

A landless, untouchable caste group, called kauwa, were confined to living on reservations. They appeared to be descendants of castaways who had survived and become the aboriginals of Hawaii before the main migrations. It was kapu for anyone to go onto kauwa lands, and doing so meant instant death. If a human sacrifice was needed, the kahuna would simply summon a kauwa.

A landless, untouchable caste group, called kauwa, were confined to living on reservations. They appeared to be descendants of castaways who had survived and become the aboriginals of Hawaii before the main migrations. It was kapu for anyone to go onto kauwa lands, and doing so meant instant death. If a human sacrifice was needed, the kahuna would simply summon a kauwa.

People lived a quiet and ordered life based on a strict caste society and the kapu (taboo) system. The population was kept in check by birth control, crude abortions, the practice of female infanticide and war. The Hawaiians were generally loving and nurturing parents and might even take in an adopted hanai (child or oldster).

There was a strict division of labor between men and women. Only men were permitted to work with taro. Men pounded poi and served it to the women. Men also were the fishermen and the builders of houses, canoes, irrigation ditches and walls. Women tended to gardens, shoreline fishing, and made tapa cloth. The entire family lived in the common house called hale nea.

Women could not enter the mua (man's house) nor could they eat with men. Certain foods such as pork and bananas were forbidden to women. A man was forbidden to have intercourse before going fishing, engaging in battle, or attending a religious ceremony. Young boys lived with the women until they were circumcised. After this, they were required to keep the kapu of men.

Hawaiian Religion
Hawaiian religion grew out of a deep respect for nature. Ancient Hawaiians believed everything in nature was sacred. The religion, Huna, taught that everything in the world had a an opposite. Huna means "secret," and the kahuna, or priests, were the "keepers of the secrets." The kahuna came from the ruling class, the ali'i. The kahuna were not only trained as priests but they learned to be doctors' lawyers, teachers, astronomers/navigators, agriculturalists, artists, and sorcerers.

Hawaiians believed that when a person died, his or her soul would go to the "place of night" to be eaten by the gods. They believed that all human souls would be reincarnated so that eventually they might become gods.
Worship took place in the heiau, or temple, where the kahuna presided over the ceremonies. Most heiaus were constructed with stone foundations and were built of straw or wood. Human sacrifices were made at certain temples but most were simply places of idol worship. Queen Ka'ahumanu ordered the destruction of the heiau and all religious idols. The Hawaiian people were left to the Christian missionaries as a source of religion. Christianity filled a spiritual void in the lives of Hawaiians and brought education to the islands.

When the white man arrived, he found a large, strong and virile people. Less than 100 years later, there were only 48,000 Hawaiians. Many of their marriages were barren and in 1874 only 1,400 children were born. The sailors who arrived were loaded with syphilis and gonorrhea. The Hawaiian women brought these diseases home and they spread like wildfire. When the missionaries came in 1820, the native population was only 140,000. In the next 50 years measles, mumps, influenza, and tuberculosis further ravaged the people. During the whaling years, at least 25% of all able-bodied Hawaiian men sailed away, never to return. Over the years, interracial marriages diluted the Hawaiian stock still further.

Hawaiians Today
Hawaiians society stressed openness and a giving nature, but downplayed the individual and the ownership of private property. They were easy targets for the users and schemers. People of Hawaiian descent number only 23% {27,000) of the Maui population. Sadly, they account for a disproportionate number of destitute families, arrests and illegitimate births. The Hawaiians have always given their aloha freely to all and we must honor this precious gift.

The Chinese
Next to the white man, the Chinese are the oldest migrant group in Hawaii, and their influence is powerful. They brought Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism to Hawaii, although many have become Christians. The Chinese population of Maui is about 500 since the majority live on Oahu. As an ethnic group they account for the least amount of crime, the highest per capita income, and a disproportionate number of professionals.

The first Chinese brought to Hawaii were 195 coolies from Amoy who arrived in 1852, contracted for 3 to 5 years and given $3 per month plus room and board for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The Chinese almost always left the plantations the minute their contracts expired. They went into business for themselves and promptly monopolized the restaurant and small shop trades.

The Japanese
It was as plantation workers that the Japanese were brought to the islands. A small group arrived in 1868, and mass migration started in 1885. The first Japanese migrants were almost all men. Between 1897 and 1908 migration was steady, with about 70% men and 30% women arriving.

The parents of most Japanese children born before WW II considered themselves Japanese. Their children. the nisei or second generation became Americans. It has since been noted that not a single charge of espionage or sabotage was ever reported against the Japanese community in Hawaii during the war.

Many Japanese became involved with Hawaiian politics and one out of every two political offices in Hawaii is held by a Japanese American. There are now about 17,000 people on Maui of Japanese ancestry.

If your skin is white, in Hawaii, you're a haole, however long you been here. The word haole can mean everything from a racist insult to nothing more than "white person." Today white people make up the largest racial group Maui at 27% (about 31,000) of the population. The white population is the fastest growing in the islands.

The Portuguese
Portuguese aren't considered haoles in Hawaii. Most of the Portuguese were illiterate peasants from Madeira and the Azores. They were well received and made a buffer ethnic group. Committed to staying in Hawaii, they rose to be skilled workers. Portuguese men tended to marry within their ethnic group but a Portuguese women married other white men and Hawaiian mates.

The Filipinos
Filipinos have been American nationals ever since the Spanish American War of 1898, and aren't subject to immigration laws. The majority were illiterate peasants called llocanos from the northern Philippines. From the first, they were looked down upon by all the other immigrant groups, and were considered particularly uncouth by the Japanese.

The Filipinos constitute 11% of Maui’s population (13,000}. For the most part, these people are hard-working, dependable laborers who do tough work for little recognition. They still remain low man on the social totem pole and have not yet organized politically to stand up for their rights.

Minor Groups
The rest of the population consists of Koreans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans. Vietnamese and Samoans.

Hawaiian Language

Hawaiian is no longer spoken as a language except on Niihau. A few old Hawaiians still speak it at home and there are sermons in Hawaiian at some local churches. The Hawaiian spoken today is very different from old Hawaiian. The missionaries began to write it down in the 1820’s. There is a movement to reestablish the Hawaiian language, and courses in it are offered at the University of Hawaii. But there are endless disagreements about the real meanings of Hawaiian words.

The Hawaiian language is rendered phonetically using only 12 letters. They are the five vowels, a-e-i-o-u, sounded and seven consonants, h-k-l-m-n-p-w, sounded exactly as they are in English. Sometimes “w" is pronounced as "v," but this only occurs in the middle of a word and always follows a vowel. A consonant is always followed by a vowel, forming two letter syllables, but vowels are often found in pairs or even triplets. break."

Glossary Of Hawaiian Words
…smart, clever
ali'i…ancient Hawaiian royalty
halau… a long house for canoes or hula instruction. Often used to refer to hula troupes
heiau…ancient Hawaiian place of worship
ho'olaule'a…celebration, large party
hui…club or organization
hukilau…a net; to fish with a net
imu…underground oven
kahili…a royal standard made of the red and yellow feathers of forest birds
kahuna…priest, minister, expert in any field
kama'aina…native-born or longtime island resident
kapu…taboo, forbidden
keiki…child, offspring
kokua…cooperation, help, aid
kumu hula…teacher of Hawaiian dance
lu'au…Hawaiian feast
mahalo…thank you
makahiki…annual celebration with sports and religious festivities
makai…towards the sea
malihini…newcomer, visitor
mana…spiritual power
mauka…inland, towards the mountains
mele…a song, chant or poem
Mele Kalikimaka…merry Christmas
mu'umuu…a loose-fitting gown
nene…the rare and protected Hawaiian goose, official state bird
'ono…delicious, tasty, savory
paniolo …cowboy
pau…finished, ended, done
pupu…hors d'oeuvre

A Few Words To The Wise
Hawaii is the fiftieth state to join the United States. Saying “Don’t you ever get to the States?” Or, “When we go back to the States...” sounds really dumb to folks who already live in the States.

Other thoughts you might want to keep to yourself are:
“Gee, you speak good English.”
“Don’t you miss snow?”
“Are you a real Hawaiian?”
“Do you accept American money?”

The dictionary defines pidgin as a simplified language with a rudimentary grammar used as a means of communication between people speaking different languages. Hawaiian pidgin had its roots during the plantation days of last century when white owners had to communicate with recently arrived Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese laborers everyday functions of working, eating, and sleeping. Hawaiian words make up most of pidgin's non-English vocabulary. There is a good smattering of Chinese, Japanese, Samoan, and Portuguese. Pidgin is kept alive by new words introduced by hip people or slang words introduced by teenagers. Most islanders are proud of it, while some consider it a low-class jargon. The Hawaiian House of Representatives has given pidgin an official sanction.

A book, sold all over the islands, called Pidgin to da Max is a good way to get acquainted with pidgin. Local people tend to look down on outsiders trying to speak pidgin.

Pidgin Expressions
Any kine..anything
Ass right...that's right.
Ass wy...that's why.
Brah...friend; brother
Brok da mout...delicious
Bus nose...bad smell
Cheeckin skin...gives you goose bumps.
Da kine...whatever the speaker wishes it to mean
Geevum...go for it!
Grind...to eat
Howzit...How are you?
Make ass...make a fool of yourself
Mo' bettah...this is better
O wot?~or what?
Poi dog...a mutt
Shaka...All right!
Sleepahs:...rubber slippers
Stink eye...dirty looks

Hawaiian Culture

Neither melody nor harmony existed in Polynesian tradition before the European came. Hawaiians enthusiastically adopted the stringed instruments that were introduced. The guitar is the most commonly used instrument with 'slack key’ guitar, a tuning effect achieved by loosening the strings, a favorite. The other stringed instrument linked with Hawai'i is the steel guitar, played horizontally with a metal slide. Most of the large resort hotels have live Hawaiian music in their cocktail lounges and sometimes in restaurants during dinner hours. A stroll through any of them around the early evening is the best way to discover by just following your ears.

Hawaiian music is complex, hearkening back to the sounds of the ancient Islanders who beat drums, blew conch shells, and chanted to their gods. It contains the styles of 19th-century Christian missionaries who taught Islanders to sing in four-part harmony.

For the best in today’s music look for a recording of singer Kehuhi Kanahele, who combines ancient Hawaiian chants with modern melodies. Listen to guitarist Keola Beamer, who plays slack-key tunings dating back to the 1930s. Falsetto virtuoso Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom is one of the very few singers working with this upper-register vocal style. Look for a concert by Henry Kapono, who writes and sings of being pure Hawaiian.

Check ads and listings in local papers for information on concerts, which take place in indoor and outdoor theaters, hotel ballrooms, and nightclubs. When you hear the sound, you'll know it's Hawaiian.

The Hawaiian people get credit for three contributions to music history; slack-key guitar, steel guitar and the ukulele. A Portuguese immigrant brought the braguinha to Hawaii in 1879. Ukulele in Hawaiian means "jumping flea" but the name probably evolved from the only indigenous Hawaiian stringed instrument, the ukeke.

The Roaring Twenties brought a huge demand for the ukulele. Teenagers and college students adopted the uke as their own and it became part of their image.

The ukulele's popularity began to fade during the great depression except as a part of the Hawaiian musical culture. The 50's brought a revival, due to Arthur Godfrey. Then came rock and roll and the ukulele went underground until 1968 when Tiny Tim brought it back into the limelight. Today the ukulele is used in many modern styles and blends of Reggae, Rock and traditional Hawaiian music, used both as a rhythm and lead instrument

The hands, not the hips, are what tell the story in the hula. Legend says that the first hula was performed by Laka, the goddess of dance to entertain her sister Pele, the volcano goddess. Pele lit up the sky in joyous celebration. Hula kahiko or ancient hula was performed only by men, then, later by both sexes. The interpretative dances, passed from generation to generation, tell stories of Hawaiian history and life.

When missionaries arrived in the 1800’s, they were shocked. They banned the hula but Hawaiians danced in secret. When King Kalakaua came to power in 1883, he brought the ancient ceremony out of hiding with some costume changes. Women wore long sleeved dresses under their ti-leaf skirts.

In the last decade, interest in hula has grown and is again danced for historical and cultural purposes. Hula competitions are common. Introductory hula classes are offered at many major hotels. Hula halaus practice and perform as far away as Japan and Chicago.

Hula Fact: It took about 1,000 eye teeth from dogs to make an ankle rattle for use in the ancient hula. Kupe’e shells are used today.

Ancient Hawaiians took great pride in their craft work and elevated it to an art form. Sadly, some of the traditional arts and crafts of Hawaii have died out. Today, native Hawaiian art is highly prized and efforts are being made to revitalize traditional arts and crafts. Most hotels sponsor lei-making classes and lectures and demonstrations. Arts and crafts shows celebrate local artisans.

Kapa (Tapa cloth)
The women of Hawaii made cloth from the bark of several trees and plants. The kapa-making process was long and tedious so many households reserved a separate hut in which to work. Village men would go out searching for wauke, mamake, ma'aloa, or poulu plants. They would cut the branches and take them back to their wives.

The women would peel the bark from the branches and set the inner bark in a stream to soak. Then, they would beat it on a log with a round club until it was flat and paper thin. The process might take up to four days.The kapa was laid in the sun to dry. Mamake bark was preferred because its cloth was the most durable.

Hawaiian women dyed the kapa using the juices of different plants. The mao plant would stain the cloth green, while the hoolei gave it a yellow tint. Women also printed patterns on the cloth. Every design was as different as the artists who created it.

The art of quilting has been practiced in Hawaii since the mid-19th century. The first quilting bee took place on April 3,1820. The basic techniques were introduced by missionary women from New England. However, the appliques and stitch patterns on original Hawaiian quilts are authentically Hawaiian. Early quilt patterns were similar to designs found on kapa cloth.Women were inspired to create original designs.Most often the designs were inspired by the leaves of trees and plants, like the fig or breadfruit trees and ferns. Outlines of pineapples, the octopus, and the sea turtle were also popular design elements. Many of the patterns were unique to a particular artist, and most of the women knew the designs of their fellow quilters.

Traditional New England stitch patterns used parallel lines and diagonals; Hawaiian women used these patterns, but later began inventing their own freehand stitch patterns, more elaborate than traditional stitching.

Without pen and paper, ancient folks often recorded events or important ideas by carving them on wood or stone. Hawaiians developed a complex series of symbols and scratched them on rocks. They called the ki'i pohaku, or stone images. The picture on the right shows a Rainbow-Man. The best petroglyphs are above the little town of Olowalu. Ask at the store how to find them.

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