Sports and Games: Puhenehene
Puhenehene was a game
that was played at night. The people were seated in two rows facing each
Then a long piece of
tapa, made perhaps by stitching several pieces together, was stretched
between one party and the other.
When the assembly had
been brought to order the president whistled a call on the puheoheo, or
called out "puheoheo," and all the company answered "puheoheo". This
done a man stood forth and chanted a gay and pleasing song.
Then three men lifted
up the long tapa. already described, and with it covered over and
concealed from view one of the groups of players.
One of the men of the
number who were concealed then hid the pebble which was called a noa1
The tapa which curtained or covered them was then removed, and the men,
one of whom had the no'a, then leaned forward and looked down2.
Then the other side
made a guess where the no'a was. If the guess was correct it counted for
them, if not for the other party. When either side scored ten it had the
victory; somebody would then start up a hula-dance.
NOTES TO CHAPTER
The no'a was a small pebble, and it was hidden on the person of one
of the players.
The purpose of leaning forward was to conceal the countenance as
much as possible, because it was as much by the study of the
countenance as in any other way that one was to judge which of the
players had the no'a about him.
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Sports and Games: Kukini (Running
was a very popular amusement. It was associated with betting and was
conducted in the following manner:
The kukini, or swift
runners, were a class of men who were trained1 with great
severity and made to practice running very frequently, until they had
attained great speed. When the people wished to indulge in betting a
number of the fastest of this class were selected and two of this number
were chosen to run a race.
Those who thought one
man was the faster runner of the two bet their property on him, and
those who thought the other was the faster, bet their property on him.
When people had made
their bets, the experts came to judge by physical examination which of
the two runners was likely to win, after which they made their bets. One
man, after staking all his property, pledged his wife and his own body
(pili hihia), another man bet property he had borrowed from another (piii
kaua). When all the pledges had been deposited (kieke, literally bagged)
the betting was at an end.
The runners (kukini)
then took their station at the starting point and a pole with a flag was
planted at the goal. The race might be over a long course or a short
one: that was as the runners agreed.
It was a rule of the
game that if both runners reached the goal at the same instant, neither
party won (aole no eo) , it was a dead heat (pai wale). It was when one
reached the goal ahead of the other that he was declared victor. In that
case the winners made great exultation over their victory.
Sometimes a runner
would sell out2 the race to his opponent and let a third
person stake his property on the other runner. This was the practice in
NOTES TO CHAPTER
According to other authorities if should be ka'i, ko'h-ee, to
practice, train, exercise. The runner was first exercised in walking
on his toes, without touching the heel of the foot to the ground.
Then he was set to running, at first for a short distance and at a
moderate pace. Finally he was made to run at full speed for great
distances. While in training they were denied poi and all soggy,
heavy food, but were fed on rare-done flesh of the fowl, and roasted
vegetables, taro, sweet-potato, bread-fruit, etc.
Kaohele, son of
Kumukoa, a king of Molokai who was cotemporary with Alapai-nui of
Hawaii, was a celebrated kukini. It is related of him that he could
run from Kaluaaha as far as to Halawa and return before a fish put
on the fire at the time of his starting had time to be roasted. "E
kui ka mama' i loaa o Kaohele." You must double (literally piece
out) your speed to catch Kaohele.
Uluanui of Oahu,
a rival and friend of Kaohele, was a celebrated footrunner. It was
said of him that he could carry a fish from the Kaelepulu pond in
Kailua, round by way of Waialua and bring it in to Waikiki while it
was still alive and wriggling.
Makoko was a
celebrated runner of Kamehameha I on Hawaii. It was said of him that
he could carry a fish from the pond at Waiakea, in Hilo, and reach
Kailua before it was dead. The distance is a little over a hundred
miles, making it, of course, an impossible story. But it would be
unkind to take such statements with utter literalness.
The Hawaiian text reads. "O kekahi poe, nolunolu na hai ke eo, a na
hai e lipi ka lakou waiwai, pela ka hana ana ma ke kukini." Only by
removing the comma after poe and rearranging the letters in the word
lipi, which should evidently be pili, is it possible to make sense
out of this passage. It is curious to note the same corrupt
practice, of selling out a race, in ancient Hawaii, as prevails in
the civilized world to-day. Back to Contents
Sports and Games: Maika
Rolling the maika
stone was a game on which much betting was done. The manner of
conducting the game was as follows:
When people wanted
the excitement of betting they hunted up the men who were powerful in
rolling the maika stone, and every man made his bet on the one whom he
thought to be the strongest player.
The experts also
studied the physique of the players, as well as the signs and omens,
after which the betting went to ruinous lengths.
Now the maika was a stone which was fashioned after the shape of a
wheel, thick at the centre and narrow at the circumference
a biconvex disc.
It was also called an ulu, this thing with which the game of maika was
The ulu-maika (by
which name the stone disc, or the game itself was called) was made from
many varieties of stone, and they were accordingly designed after the
variety of stone from which they were made.
The game of maika was
played on a road-way, or kahua, made specially for the purpose. When all
had made their bets the maika-players came to the maika-course.
The ulu which the
first man hurled was said to be his kumu, mua, i.e., his first basis or
pledge; in the same way the ulu which the second player hurled, or
bowled, was called his kumu.
If the second player
outdid the first player's shot he scored. If they both went the same
distance it was a dead heat.
But if the second
player did not succeed in out-doing the first man's play the score was
given to the first player.
NOTES TO CHAPTER
The game of maika
was a most worthy and noble sport. It is not an easy matter to
obtain definite information as to some points in the game, whether
sometimes the play was not to drive the ulu between two stakes set
up at a distance, whether the ulu-maika of the first player was
removed from the course as soon as it came to a standstill, by what
means the point reached by the ulu was marked, if it was removed
from the course in order to clear the track for the next player.
These are some of the questions to which I have been able to obtain
only partial and unsatisfactory answers. There was no doubt a great
diversity of practice as to these points on the different islands,
and even in the different parts of the same island.
point to be made was, so far as I can learn, to send the ulu to as
great a distance as possible. When an ulu had come to a standstill
it was probably removed from the track and the place of its fall
marked by a little flag, or stake, set in the ground opposite and
outside of the track. According to some, however, the ulu was
allowed to remain in the track as it fell, thus adding an obstacle
to the success of the player who had the next throw. But this method
is so clearly opposed to all fair play that I cannot believe it was
the general practice.
The ulu, maika,
or ulu-maika (for by all these names was the thing called) was of
various sizes, being all the way from two and a quarter to six
inches in diameter. The size most ordinarily used, if one may judge
from specimens seen in museums and private collections, was perhaps
from three to four inches. It was in some cases made one-sided to
enable it to follow the bend of a curved track, one of which
description I remember to have seen on the plains back of
Kaunakakai, on Molokai.
There is said to
have been another of the same kind at Lanikaula, also on Molokai.
There is said to be a kahua-maika at Ka-lua-ko'i, on the mountain of
Maunaloa, at the western end of Molokai, which to this day remains
in a fair state of preservation. There must also be many others
scattered through the group.
bread-fruit, which is generally of a globular shape was much used in
playing this game, and undoubtedly gave its name, ulu, both to the
thing itself and to the sport. Spherical stones, evidently fashioned
for use in this game, are objects occasionally met with. From the
fact that the stone ulu is of spherical shape
imitation of the fruit
as well as that
all the specimens met with have been fashioned out of a coarse,
vesicular stone that is incapable of smooth finish or polish, while
the material from which the maika is made, has in the majority of
cases been a close, fine-grained basalt, leads to the conclusion
that the ulu was the early form, and the maika the product of later
evolution. Mr. S. Percy Smith suggests that the word ulu probably
meant originally "round," "spherical," as in the word for "head."
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Sports and Games
The game of pahee was
one which people played at odd times, whenever they were so inclined,
and it was associated with betting.
A short javelin, made
from the hard wood of the ulei or kauila was the instrument used in
playing pahee. It was made thick at the forward end, the head, and
tapered off towards the tail-end. One man cast his javelin, and when it
had come to a stand still, the other man, cast, and whichever javelin
went farther than the other, it counted for him who threw it.
After each one had
made his bet the players went to the tail-end.
He who first scored
ten won the game.
NOTE TO CHAPTER
The pahee or
javelin was cast on a roadway or piece of sward, in such a way as to
slide or skip along, over the ground. It was a very interesting
game. Betting was no doubt a very common fault of old Hawaiian life,
but it is not exactly true that betting was an accompaniment to
every game that was played in ancient Hawaii.
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Sports and Games: Heihei-Waa
The ancient Hawaiians
were very fond of betting on a canoe-race. When they wished to indulge
this passion, people selected a strong crew of men to pull their racing
Each man then put up
his bet on that crew which was in his opinion composed of the strongest
canoe-paddlers, and, the betting being over, they started out for the
If the canoe was of
the kind called the kioloa (a sharp and narrow canoe, made expressly for
racing) there might be but one man to paddle it, but if it was a large
canoe, there might be two, three, or a large number of paddlers,
according to the size of the canoe.
The racing canoes
paddled far out to sea
staid close in to the land (to act as judges, or merely perhaps as
spectators), and then they pulled for the land, and if they touched the
beach at the same time it was a dead heat; but if a canoe reached the
shore first it was the victor, and great would be the exultation of the
men who won, and the sorrow of those who lost their property.
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Sports and Games: Hee-Nalu
Surf-riding was a
national sport of the Hawaiians, on which they were very fond of
betting, each man staking his property on the one he thought to be the
When the bets were
all put up, the surf-riders, taking their boards with them, swam out
through the surf, till they had reached the waters outside of the surf.
These surf-boards were made broad and flat, generally hewn out of koa1;
a narrower board, however, was made from the wood of the wiliwili2.
One board would be a
fathom in length, another two fathoms, and another four fathoms, or even
having reached the belt of water outside of the surf, the region where
the rollers began to make head, awaited the incoming of a wave, in
preparation for which they got their boards under way by paddling with
their hands until such time as the swelling wave began to lift and urge
them forward. Then they speeded for the shore until they came opposite
to where was moored a buoy, which was called a pua.
If the combatants
passed the line of this buoy together it was a dead heat; but if one
went by it in advance of the other he was the victor.
A i ka au hou ana, o
ka mea i komo i ka pua hoomawaena mai oia, aole e hiki i ke kulana, o ka
eo no ia nana; pela ka he'e nalu4.
NOTES TO CHAPTER
Koa, the same wood as that of which the canoe was generally made.
Wili-wili, a light, cork-like wood, used in making floats for the
outriggers of canoes, for nets, and a variety of other similar
The longest surf-board at the Bishop Museum is sixteen feet in
length. It is difficult to see how one of greater length could be of
any service, and even when of such dimensions it must have required
great address to manage it. It was quite sufficient if the board was
of the length of the one who used it. One is almost inclined to
doubt the accuracy of David Malo's statement that it was sometimes
four, or even more, fathoms in length. If any thinks it an easy
matter to ride the surf on a board, a short trial will perhaps
I am unable to give a satisfactory translation of this section.
It has been
suggested to me that the meaning of is that the victory was declared
only after more than one heat, a rubber, if necessary. The Hawaiian
text should be corrected as follows: A i ka au hou ana i ka mea i
komo i ka pu-a i ho-o mawaena mai oia aole e hiki i ke kulana o ka
eo ia nana. Pela ka hee-nalu.
was one of the most exciting and noble sports known to the
Hawaiians, practiced equally by king, chief and commoner. It
is still to some extent engaged in, though not as formerly, when it
was not uncommon for a whole community, including both sexes, and
all ages, to sport and frolic in the ocean the livelong day. While
the usual attitude was a reclining on the board face downwards, with
one, or both arms folded and supporting the chest, such dexterity
was attained by some that they could maintain their balance while
sitting, or even while standing erect, as the board was borne along
at the full speed of the inrolling breaker. Photographs can be given
in proof of this statement. Back to Contents
Sports and Games: Hee-Holua (Holua-Sledding)
Sliding down hill on
the holua-sled was a sport greatly in vogue among chiefs and people, and
one on the issue of which they were very fond of making bets, when the
fit took them.
The holua was a long
course laid out down the steep incline of a hill and extending onto the
Rocks were first laid
down, then earth was put on and beaten hard, lastly the whole was
layered with grass, and this was the track for the holua-sled to run on.
The runners of the
holua-sled were made of mamane, or of uhiuhi wood, chamfered to a narrow
edge below, with the forward end turned up, so as not to dig into the
ground, and connected with each other by means of cross-pieces in a
manner similar to the joining of a double-canoe.
On top of the
cross-pieces boards were then laid, as in flooring the pola of a canoe.
This done and the runners lubricated with oil of the kukui-nut, the sled
was ready for use.
The bets having been
arranged, the racers took their stations at the head of the track; the
man who was ranged in front gave his sled a push to start it and mounted
it, whereupon his competitor who was to his rear likewise started his
sled and followed after. He who made the longest run was the victor. In
case both contestants travelled the length of the course, it was a dead
heat and did not decide who was victor.
The victory was
declared for the player who made the best run.
NOTES ON CHAPTER
The course of an
old-time holua slide is at the present writing clearly to be made
out sloping down the foot-hills back of the Kamehameha School. The
track is of such a width
about 18 feet
as to preclude
the possibility of two sleds travelling abreast. It is substantially
paved with flat stones, which must have held their position for many
generations. The earth that once covered them has been mostly washed
away. The remains of an ancient kahua holua are also to be made out
at Keauhou, or were a few years ago.
From the sample
of the holua sled to be seen at the Bishop museum, it seems a wonder
that any one was able to ride the sled down such a descent as either
one of the two just mentioned, or to keep on the thing at all. The
two runners are in the specimen at the museum twelve and a half feet
long, are set about1 two and a half inches apart at the narrow,
sliding edge, and about six inches apart on top, where the body of
the man rests. A more difficult feat by far it must have been to
ride on this tipsy affair at speed than to keep one's balance on the
back of a horse, a la circus-rider; yet it is asserted that there
were those who would ride down hill on the holua-sled at break-neck
speed maintaining at the same time an erect position. It hardly
seems credible. The swift rush of the toboggan is as nothing to
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Sports and Games: Noa
Noa was a sport that
was extremely popular with people and chiefs. The number of those,
including chiefs, who were beggared by this game was enormous.
The people are seated
in two groups facing each other, and five bundles or tapa are placed on
a mat) between the two groups. These bundles are to hide the noa under,
and beginning- with the Kihipuka1, which completes the list.
persons were chosen to hide the noa. This was a small piece of wood or
of stone. Bets having been made, one side by their player hid their noa
under one of the piles of tapa.
This done, the player
sat still and shut his eyes.
The opposite side,
who had attentively watched the man while he was hiding the noa, made a
guess as to its position. If they guessed correctly, it counted for
them. The other side then made their guess, and that side which first
scored ten won the game.
Sometimes a man, when
he lost his property and was reduced to poverty, took it so greatly to
heart that he became bitter and desperate. He would then, perhaps, risk
everything he had and become beggared, or actually go crazy through
everything else2, people would sometimes stake their wives,
or children, speaking of the former as an old sow, and the latter as
shoats. These were some of the results of noa.
NOTES ON CHAPTER
A Hawaiian who says he used to see the game of noa played in his
boyhood on the island of Molokai, informs me that according to his
recollection, the piles of tapa were named in this order: Kihipuka,
Pilimoe, Kau, Pilipuka, Kihimoe. He gives me the following, which he
heard recited by the man who was hiding the noa :
Ala la, aia la,
There it is, there it is,
I ke Kau, i ke Pili, i ka Moe,
Under the kau, tinder the pili, under the moe,
Ilaila e ku ai ka noa a kaua. E ku!
There is lodged our noa. It's lodged!
It was not an unknown thing for a man, having exhausted other
resources, to stake his own body, pili iwi as it was called. If he
lost he was at least the slave of the winner, who might put his body
to what' use he pleased. If put to death by his master he would be
called a moe-puu, i.e., he joined the great heap, or majority of the
dead, "ka puu nui o ka make." Death was the puu nui. There was
evident allusion to the same thought in the expression "moe puu,"
applied to the human sacrifices that were in ancient times made at
the death of a king.
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Sports and Games: Pu-kaula (Juggling)
Pukaula or juggling was a great betting
game. It was played by experts, through whose skill a great many people
were taken in and victimized. An outsider stood no chance of winning
from the slight-of-hand-performer, unless the juggler saw that the
audience was too small, in which case he let someone win from him.
And after people began to think they had a
show for winning they gathered in crowds about the jugglers and staked
all their property, thinking they were sure to win. When the jugglers
saw this and that the betting was heavy, they changed their tactics and
managed it so that they themselves should win. In playing the game of
pukaula an olona line several fathoms long was used (The author says a
fathom long; but that is clearly impossible.) which is braided very
closely and smoothly and was about the size of a watch-guard.
When the jugglers came on to the ground
where they were to exhibit, they started in by repeating some sort of
jingle (kepakepa1) which tickled the fancy of the people, and
they accordingly crowded up and filled the place.
The performers very cunningly gave one end
of the line into the hands of one man and the other end into the hands
of another man to hold, and then did their tricks with the middle part
of the line2.
The juggler artfully tied the middle part of
the line up into a knot and then asked the people "what do you think
about the knot?"
Being sure from their own observation that
the knot was a tight one, they bet that it would hold. Then the juggler
and the ones who made bets struck hands and pledged3
themselves to stick to their bargain. The ends of the rope were then
pulled, and according to whether the knot held or no, did the jugglers
or the others win.
Men and women as well in large numbers were
driven to desperation at their losses in this game. A woman would
sometimes put her own body at stake and lose it to the juggler, in which
case she became his property.
Men were affected with the same craze and
likewise became the slaves of the jugglers. They were let off only when
they paid a heavy ransom.
NOTES TO CHAPTER 51
Kepakepa. The meaning of this word is to amuse, amusement.
The statement that the juggler allowed outsiders to hold the ends of
the line is on the face of it absurd and improbable. So I am told by
those who have seen something of the game.
The pledge was, no doubt, in the form that was very commonly used in
connection with solemn affirmations, "Pau Pele, pau mano" as much as
to say, Let me be destroyed by Pele, or by the shark, if I do not
keep my oath.
My informant says the rope he once saw
used in the play was three fathoms long.
The following is communicated to me as a sample of a Kepakepa,
recitative, it could hardly be called a jingle
such as was used by the pu-kaula or
juggler in baiting and fascinating his audience. It is to all
intents a prayer to Kana, the god of jugglery and of jugglers.
E Kana. E Kana.
Oh Kana. Oh Kana.
E mahulu-ku, e kii lalau,
Rough line of hala-root, or bark of hau.
E kuhi a leo, e ka moe,
Point and declare as to the sleeper,
Ka hanai a Uli.
The foster child of Uli.
Kuu'a mai kou kapa kaula.
Put on your rope-body,
Hoalu mai kou kapa kanaka,
Lay off your human form,
I ka pu a kaua, e Kana.
In this trick of yours and mine, oh Kana,
Kana was a kupua
a word which has no exact equivalent
in our language, though perhaps the word demi-god comes nearest to
it; it was a being more than human or heroic and less than divine.
His father was Hakalanileo, his mother Hina-ai-ka-malama. The scene
of his nativity and childhood was Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. His
birth was remarkable. His little body at its first appearance
seemed only a small piece of cord and was put one side as of no
account. The goddess Uli, however, recognized the nature of the
being and put him in a place of safety.
The nutriment suitable for the
sustenance and growth of a kupua are hoomana, i.e., adoration and
worship, and awa. Through the care of Uli, his foster mother, the
spiritual and physical necessities of Kana were well supplied and he
grew apace. His growth was only in length, not in circumference.
Under the stimulus of hoomanamana and awa, the growth of Kana was so
great that after a time the house in which he had been placed grew
too narrow for him and another one had to be built for his
accommodation. To all appearance Kana was merely an enormous length
of line; but he was a demi-god of tremendous power.
The following is a sample of the
spiritual, or worshipful, incense, which was daily offered to him
(without it any kupua must dwindle and fade into nothingness) and
which was an Inoa, i.e., a name:
la moku kele-Kahiki i ke ao ua o Haka,
To the craft voyaging to Tahiti amid the rain-clouds of Kana,
O Plakalanileo hoowiliwili Hilo,
King of Hilo, land of cloud-portents,
Hookaka'a ka lani, kaka'a ka iloli,
Portents in the heavens, commotions in t'he womb.
Wehiwehi ka opua, palamao(a) Kahiki,
Open and clear are the heavenly signs, a mottling that reaches
Wai-kahe ka mauna, kaikoo ka moana,
Freshets in the mountains, wild surf in the ocean
I ka hanau ana o ka ui a Haka.
At the birth of t'he child of Haka.
Hanau ae o Kana he lino,
Kana was born a four-stranded rope,
He aho loa, he pauku kaula,
A long fish-line, a piece of cord,
He kaee koali, he awe pu-maia,
A line of koali, a thread of banana fibre,
A spider's web,
Hanai ia Uli a ka ihu pi,
Adopted by Uli, the cross one,
Ka ihu nana, ka mano hae,
She of the up-tilted nose, a ravenous shark,
Ka ilio hae, keiki alala, keiki omino.
A barking dog, a puny wailing thing he,
Ku i koholua,(b) ku iki a
To be lanced most delicately, this Kana.
Naue na koa,(c) ka elawa i
The ocean-spearmen rally about him.
Ka pu-koa i kai, ka puoleolei
The ocean-reefs, the conchs of ocean.,
Ka nihi(d) moe lawa, ka auna(e)
The black shark, t'he sword-fish.
Kou inoa e Kana.
An ascription this to you. Oh Kana.
(a) Palamoa, mottled,
mackerel scales in the sky.
(b) Koholua, a bone from near
the tail of certain fishes, that was sharp and used as a lancet.
(c) Koa, soldiers of the
ocean, the hihimanu. A sharp bone near the tail.
(d) Nihi, a contracted form
of niuhi, a monster shark.
(e) Auna, sword-fish.
Kana had a younger brother named Niheu.
When his mother was abducted by Kapepeekauila, a powerful kupua of
Molokai, who had his seat in the inaccessible cliffs of that island,
he concealed her at a place called Haupukele high up in the
mountains. Hakalanileo mourned the loss of his wife so bitterly that
Niheu made ready to start on an expedition for her rescue. Uli
insisted that he must take his brother Kana with him. So they
wrapped his body in a mat and put him in the canoe. On the voyage
the sea-turtle did his best to overwhelm the canoe. Kana was the
first one to call attention to the monster in the ocean that was
threatening them, "ka ea nui, kua-wakawaka." Kana pierced the
monster with his spear and he troubled them no more. Opposite the
point of Halawa was a dangerous reef called Pu'upo'i. Warned in time
by Kana, Niheu turned the canoe aside and this danger was passed.
Arrived at Pelekunu, the inaccessible heights of Haupu-kele-ka-pu'u
towered above them. It was there Pepeekauila lived in security with
his stolen bride. From this elevation he commanded a bird's-eye
view of the party in the canoe, but to assure himself of their
character and probable errand, he sent as messengers and spies the
Ulili and Kolea birds to learn the truth. On their return they
reported that it was not a war-canoe, there were no arms or warriors
visible. The principal thing to be seen was a large roll of matting
which occupied the waist of the canoe. The party on the hill were
consequently off their guard.
At the request of Niheu, Kana climbed the hill to bring away their
mother. Hina-ai-ka-malama recognized her son and willingly went with
him down to the canoe. Keoloewa, the king who had been keeping her
as liis wife or paramour, at first offered no objections to her
departure; when, however, she had boarded the canoe, the sense of
his loss came over him and he ordered the birds, Ulili and Kolea, to
fly and fetch her back. When Kana saw that his mother was gone he
took the form of a man, and standing with one foot in one canoe and
the other foot in the other canoe, his tall form at first reached
above the highest point of the mountain cliff, thus enabling him to
seize the body of Hina-ai-ka-malama and restore her to the canoe.
But in the effort he found that the hill kept growing in height and
getting away from him. Keoloewa and his men hurled down great rocks
upon those below. Kana's eyes were as big as the moon. As the hill
grew in height Kana also stretched himself up, but the hill kept
growing higher, and Kana wondered why. But feeling in the ocean at
the roots of the mountain, he found that it was the turtle, ka ea,
that was lifting it. Then he tore the ea in pieces and scattered
them in the ocean, where they became sea-turtle of many species.
From that moment the mountain ceased to grow in height. This ended
the fight. Niheu and Kana sailed away in the canoe with their
mother, who was thus restored to her husband. Haka-lani-leo.
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Sports and Games: Kea-Pua, or Pa-Pua
Ke'a-pua was a pastime which was engaged in
by great numbers of men, women and children when the Makahiki period
came round, because that was the season when the sugar-cane put forth
the flowers that were used in this game.
When the tassels were ripe the flower-stems
were plucked and laid away to dry. The lower end of the stem was tightly
bound with string, after which the point thus made was wetted in the
mouth and then thrust into the dirt to become coated with clay.
Matches were then gotten up between
different players, and bets were made in which the arrows themselves
might be the wagers, but it might be anything else.
A knoll of earth or sand was chosen from
which to skate the arrows. One of them would project his arrow and then
the other, and so they took turns.
The one who first scored ten points was the
winner and took the bet.
NOTE TO CHAPTER 52
A description is necessary to make this
beautiful pastime intelligible. The arrow, made from the light and
elegant stem of the sugar-cane flower was about two feet long.
Posting himself so as to take advantage of a knoll or any slight
eminence, the player, holding the arrow well towards its tail-end,
ran forward a few steps in a stooping position, and as he reached
the desired point, with a downward and forward swing of his arm,
projected the arrow at such an angle that it just grazed the surface
of the ground, from which if occasionally glanced with a graceful
ricochet movement. It is a rare sight to see this game played
nowadays, but twenty or thirty years ago, in the season of it it was
all the rage from Hawaii to Niihau. It is a pity to see this elegant
and invigorating pastime supplanted by less worthy sports.
The mythical hero Hiku, who, with his
mother lived on the topmost parts of Hualalai, is said to have had
the faculty of calling back to him the arrow he had sent to a
distance. He uttered the call "pua-ne. Pua-ne." And the arrow
immediately returned to his hand. I am informed that the expression
used to denote the pastime is ke-apua, ka-pua, or pa-pua.
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Sports and Games: Haka-Moa (Cock
Cock-fighting (haka-moa) was a very
fashionable sport with the aliis and was conducted in the following
manner. A person who was a good judge of fowls would secure one which he
thought to be a good fighter.
A roost was then made, on which to place the
cock, and every night a small fire was started under him, to make him
Each game-keeper trained his fighting cock
in the same manner, until they were paired for a fight.
The day having been set for the match, a
multitude of people assembled to witness it, and to bet on the result.
When the experts had studied the two cocks and had made up their minds
which would fight to the death, they made their bets, betting all their
own property, as well as all they could borrow.
When the betting was done, the president, or
luna hoomalu, of the assembly stood forth, and a rope was drawn around
the cock-pit to keep the people out. Any one who trespassed within this
line was put to death.
The cocks were then let loose and the
multitude flocked about the cock-pit. If the cocks were equally matched
it was a drawn battle (pai iwale); but if one of them ran away from the
other, that gave victory to the latter.
The winners always reviled those who lost
with insulting and offensive language, saying "you'll have to eat
chicken-dung after this" repeating it over and over.
NOTE TO CHAPTER 53
It was imagined that the motions made by the cock in thrusting his
head to one side and the other, in his efforts to escape the heat
and pungent smoke, were just the exercises needed to fit him for his
duties as a fighter.
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Sports and Games: The Hula
The hula was a very popular amusement among
the Hawaiian people. It was used as a means of conferring distinction
upon the aliis and people of wealth. On the birth of an alii the the
chiefs and people gave themselves up to the hula, and much property was
lavished on hula dancers. The hula most frequently performed by the
chiefs was the ka-laau (in which one stick was struck against another).
The children of the wealthy were ardent
devotees of the hula. Among the varieties of the hula were the pa'i
umauma, (beating the chest), hula pahu (with a drum accompaniment), and
the hula pahu'a, besides which there were also the ala'a-papa, the
pa'ipa'i, the pa-ipu, the ulili, the kolani, and the kielei.
It was the custom of hula dancers to perform
before the rich in order to obtain gifts from them.
NOTE TO CHAPTER 54
The hula, like all other savage,
Polynesian institutions degenerated and went on the run to the bad
the moment the white man appeared on the scene. The activity and
heat of his passions started a fire that burnt up all the properties
at' once. The hula in the ancient times was no better, no worse
than other of the Hawaiian, Polynesian institutions.
The modern hula is no more a fair and true representative of the
savage Hawaiian, or Polynesian dance than the Parisian cancan is of
a refined and civilized dance.
I regret that I cannot entirely concur
with the view expressed above. I believe that the hula in Hawaii-nei.
like the Areoi society in Tahiti, appealed largely to the baser
instincts of the people, and had a debasing influence on them.
But I admit that there were different kinds of hula in ancient
times, and that the worst form of it, (which had always been the
most popular), is the one that has survived, and furthermore that
foreign influence has helped to keep this relic of heathenism alive.
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Sports and Games: Mokomoko (Boxing)
During the Makahiki season, when the
Makahiki god made his rounds, the people of different districts gathered
at one place and held boxing matches.
The multitude being seated in a circle, the
backers of one champion stood forth and vaunted the merits of their
favorite, who thereupon came forward and made a display of himself,
swaggering, boasting and doubling up his fists.
Then the other side followed suit, made
their boasts, had their man stand forth and show himself; and when the
champions came together they commenced to beat and pummel each other
with their fists.
If one of the boxers knocked down his
opponent a shout of exultation went up from those who championed him and
they grossly reviled the other side, telling him perhaps to "go and eat
The one who fell was often badly maimed,
having an arm broken, an eye put out, or teeth knocked out. Great misery
was caused by these boxing matches.
NOTE TO CHAPTER 55
The Hawaiians do not seem to have used
the fore-arm, after the manner of modern practitioners of the "noble
art." Each boxer sought to receive his opponent's blow with his own
fist. This meeting of fist with fist was very likely the cause of
the frequent broken arms.
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Sports and Games: Hakoko (Wrestling)
Hakoko or wrestling was a very popular sport
in ancient Hawaii. It was generally done in the midst of a large
assembly of people, as the boxing game, mokomoko, was.
The multitude formed a circle, and the
wrestlers took their stand in the centre, and then, having seized hold
of each other, they struggled to trip each other with the use of their
feet, striving with all their might to throw each other to the ground.
The one who was thrown was beaten. A man who
was a strong and skillful wrestler was made much of. Wrestling was much
practiced about court, very little in the country districts.
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Sports and Games: Sundry Minor Sports
In addition to the games mentioned, there
were a great many little informal sports.
One of these was koi (a child's game, played with a crooked stick, with
which one dug into the earth or sand, at the same time repeating some
word-jingle or other.)
a child's game played with a niau, the
small midriff of the coconut leaf. This was bent into the form of a bow
in the hand, and, being suddenly released, sprang away by its
a game in which one boy sat astride on
the back of another boy who was down on all-fours.
Two persons would hook ringers
together and then pull to see who would hold out the longest, without
letting go or straightening out his finger.
played by slapping hands together, as
in the game "bean-porridge hot, bean-porridge cold," etc.
in which boys turned over and over or
turned somersaults on the grass or in the sand.
swinging on a swing suspended by a
single line, for which purpose the strong convolvulus vine, koali, was
most often used. When permitted, youths of both sexes delighted to enjoy
this sport together, the girl seated on the lap of the boy and facing
jumping oft" from a height into the
swimming or diving for a small,
half-ripe gourd that would barely float in the water.
shooting mice with bow and arrow. This
was a sport much practiced by kings and chiefs. It was the only use
which the Hawaiians made of the bow and arrow. A place somewhat like a
cockpit was arranged in which to shoot the mice.
This was an exhibition of Ina for
amusement. Lua was a murderous system of personal combat which combined
tricks of wrestling with bone-breaking, the dislocation of limbs, and
other thug-like methods that put it outside the pale of civilized
warfare. It was used by robbers.
NOTES TO CHAPTER 57
It' seems remarkable that David Malo
should make no mention of a large number of games that were of
established vogue and popularity among the ancient Hawaiians. Such
a game played with black and white
pebbles on a checkerboard laid out in squares at right angles to
each other, the squares being represented by hollows for the pebbles
to rest in. The game consists in moving one's pieces in such a way
as to compel the opponent to take them. The number of squares on the
konane board was not uniform. I have seen them with nine on a side,
making eighty-one in all; I have also seen them with such a number
that the board was longer in one direction than the other.
is a game that deserves mention. There
were many figures into which the string was worked. It was a game at
which the genius of the Hawaiian was specially fitted to excel, for
by nature he was a born rigger, skilled in manipulating and tying
ropes and knots.
a game at which the Hawaiian boy and
more especially the Hawaiian girl excelled.
This list might be greatly extended.
deserves special mention as a pastime that was dear to the Hawaiian
heart, and the practice of which recurred with the regularity of the
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