Hawaiian Legends - History of Hawaii
Forging Fire God: Pele
Lighting up ancient Hawaiian legends, Pele (pronounced peh-leh) the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, dance and volcanoes is a well-known character. Otherwise known as ka wahine ai honua, the woman who devours the land, Pele’s home is believed to be Halemaumau crater at the summit of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. However, all of Hawaii lays the setting for her stories, so that to this day, any volcanic eruption in Hawaii is attributed to Pele’s longing to be with her true love.
Frozen Mantle God: Poli'AhuPoliʻahu met the Aliʻi Aiwohikupua on the Eastern slope of Mauna Kea. The two fell in love and Aiwohikupua took Poliʻahu home to his native Kauai. There Poliʻahu discovered that the aliʻi was already betrothed to a princess of Maui. Poliʻahu left in dismay, but managed to first curse the betrothed. She first chilled the princess of Maui to the bone, then turned the cold into heat. Finally, the princess gave up and left him. Later Poliʻahu similarly cursed Aiwohikupua, freezing him to death. The four goddesses are defined by their otherworldly beauty. Poliʻahu is noted as Hawaii's most beautiful goddess.
Origin Gods: Papa & Wakea
Together, Papahānaumoku and Wākea created Hawaii, Maui, Kaua'i, and Ho’ohokukalani. After having incest with his own daughter, Ho’ohokukalani, she gave birth to Haloa-naka, meaning elder child. It was a stillborn baby, which they later planted and became the first kalo or taro, a staple of the Hawaiian diet. After Haloa-naka, Ho’ohokukalani gave birth to another child named Haloa, meaning younger sibling, and he became the first kanaka or Hawaiian person. The relationship between Haloa-naka and Haloa describes the balance of relationships between the land and the people that live in it. Haloa-naka, the land or kalo, takes care of the kanakas or Haloa by providing them with food and nutrients. In return, Haloa or the people would treat and take care of the land like their own family. Later on, Wākea reunites with Papahānaumoku and they create Ni'ihau, Lehua, and Kaʻula. In one tradition, the first person on Earth was the woman Laʻila. She and her husband Kealiʻi are the parents of Kahiko, the father of Wākea. Wākea made the land and sea from the calabash or gourd (‘ipu) of Papahānaumoku. He threw it up high, and it became the heavens. He made the rain from its juice and from the seeds he made the sun, moon, and stars.
Hidden Beauty God: La'ieikawai
In Hawaiian mythology, Laʻieikawai (Lāʻi.e.-i-ka-wai) and her twin sister Laʻielohelohe were princesses, and were born in Laie, Hawaii, Oahu.
They were separated and hidden away from their chiefly father who had all his daughters killed at birth, because he wanted a first born son. Laʻieikawai was hidden in a cave which was only accessed by diving in pool of water named Waiapuka. Soon it was well known that someone of royalty resided nearby because of the tell-tale rainbow that graced the sky above her cave dwelling. Her grandmother Waka secretly tried to smuggle her to Paliuli, Puna, Hawaii (island). On the way there others heard of her beauty and the rumors travelled all throughout the islands. Aiwohikupua, a chief from the island of Kauai decided he would pursue her. At her home in Paliuli, Laieikawai was attended by supernatural birds such as the 'i'iwi polena. It is said she could float on the wings of the birds. While other royalty in Hawai'i had mere feather capes and cloaks, Laʻieikawai had a house made of the sacred feathers. After a series of misfortunes, she becomes known as Kawahineliula ("woman of the twilight"). In 1863, S. N. Haleʻole published the story of the figure in The Hawaiian Romance of Laieikawai, the first fictional work of literature produced by a Native Hawaiian.
In Polynesian mythology, Maui was a powerful trickster god best known for creating the Pacific Islands. A son of the god Tangaros and a woman, he performed many deeds to improve the lives of humans, such as making the sky higher and the day longer. Endowed with magical powers, this small but exceedingly strong god and culture hero tried but failed to achieve immortality.
Artist: Robert King Andia
These beautiful pieces of art are part of The Ancient Hawaii Collection.
To view more of his work click here.