Beckwith Kumulipo Part 1



A Hawaiian Creation Chant translated and edited with commentary by


Chicago University Press [Published 1951, copyright not renewed]

To the memory of ANNIE M. ALEXANDER

Lifelong Friend and Comrade from early days in Hawaii


THE Kalakaua text of the Hawaiian genealogical prayer chant called the "Kumulipo" covers sixty-six pages of a small pamphlet printed in Honolulu in 1889 after a manuscript copy at that time in the possession of the ruling King Kalakaua but now the property of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, to which it passed in 1922 from the estate of Prince Kalanianaole, nephew of the former rulers. A prose note of two pages attached to the text tells the circumstances under which the chant was allegedly composed and recited in old days. Except for the third paragraph relating the connection of the chant to the line of ruling chiefs from whom the Hawaiian monarchy of that period claimed descent, the prose note derives from the manuscript source.

A European scholar, the eminent German anthropologist Adolf Bastian, first called attention to the manuscript of the Kumulipo. During a month's stay in Honolulu in the course of a tour of the Far East, he learned of the existence of a Hawaiian cosmogonic chant, borrowed the king's copy, and was able to translate passages from the first eleven sections and to obtain some light on their meaning. This text and translation, together with comparison with other cosmogonies from Polynesia and from ancient Asiatic as well as European civilizations, Bastian incorporated into a volume called Die heilige Sage der Polynesier, published in 1881 in Leipzig.

The interest shown in the chant by this European scholar probably influenced the king to have the text printed. He saw also a chance to strengthen his own hereditary claim to the throne among subjects who regarded genealogical descent as the ultimate test of rank. Six years later his sister and successor, the deposed Queen Lili'uokalani, while under detention at Washington Place in Honolulu after the attempted revolt of 1894-95, began a line-by-line translation of the Kalakaua text. This translation was later completed and published in Boston in 1897.

In 1902 a native scholar of Kona district on the island of Hawaii, named Joseph Kukahi, printed in Hawaiian, together with other traditional lore, a text with commentary of the Kumulipo through the eighth section. Except for considerable abridgment, the edition differs but little from the Kalakaua text. Kukahi is said to have held a post at the palace as a member of Kalakaua's household. His version must have come from a common source with the manuscript copy, if it is not a direct variant from it. In 1928 Kukahi's first seven sections, in still further abridged form and with an attempted English translation, were reprinted in consecutive numbers of a short-lived bilingual journal called Aloha. Unfortunately this praiseworthy effort to revive interest among Hawaiians in their literary heritage is without importance for this study.

As a printed text the Kumulipo chant is thus buried in obscure libraries out of reach of scholars today and unknown even to the few Hawaiians left who read their own language and might be able to interpret its meaning. Of manuscript texts, the most important after that reproduced by Kalakaua in his printed edition is an unsigned book of genealogies attributed to "Kamokuiki." The late J. M. Poepoe called this Kamokuiki "one of those who were instructed with David Malo under Auwae, the great genealogist of Kamehameha's last days," who "filled in the genealogy left incomplete by Malo ... from Puanue back to Kumulipo and forward to Wakea." Of the two thousand one hundred and two lines of the Kumulipo chant as it appears in the Kalakaua text, over one-half are straight listings of names of man and wife, kane and wahine. The Kamokuiki book gives all these genealogies, each under its own heading and with variations unimportant in themselves, but proving an independent transcription.

Poepoe, who was Rivers' Hawaiian informant for his volumes on Melanesian society, himself left an unfinished text and commentary on what he calls "Kamokuiki's Genealogy of Kumulipo." Another manuscript by an unknown hand gives a genealogy of La'ila'i from the "creation" to Kalakaua. Still another consists in a translation into English of Bastian's German rendering of the Kumulipo manuscript text, made at the request of Dr. Handy by the Austrian philologist Dr. Joseph Rock. Finally, a fifth manuscript called "Helps in Studying the Kumulipo" contains classified name lists chiefly of plants and animals. These, though important in themselves, have no direct bearing upon the interpretation of the Kumulipo chant.

Besides these written sources I have gone over the text with living Hawaiians familiar with native chant style. In two cases these informants were introduced to me by Theodore Kelsey of the Hawaiian Village, to whom I am indebted for paving the way to the establishment of friendly relations. David Malo Kupihea is from a Molokai priestly family who held an inherited post under the late monarchy as keeper of the royal fishponds below Palama. The late Daniel Ho'olapa belonged to an old Kona family on the island of Hawaii, and his wife was also of chief blood. A third helper was the late Mrs. Pokini Robinson, an old family friend of exceptional qualities of mind belonging to an important chief family of the island of Maui and, although given an English education in a mission household, preserving a constant connection with Hawaiian life and tradition as she knew it in old days under the best native environment and as she followed it through the Hawaiian press. She read the Kumulipo for the first time from the copy I lent her and exclaimed with enthusiasm, "How I should like to hear this chanted!" Finally I am especially indebted to Mrs. Mary Kawena Pukui, of the Bishop Museum, for her unfailing helpfulness as interpreter and for her sound advice on questions of detail. Hers has been the final authority in correction of both text and translation. Both have in almost every case been based upon manuscript readings or have been suggested or approved by these Hawaiian interpreters.

Acknowledgment should also be made to the editor of the Journal of American Folklore for permission to use the article on ceremonial birth chants in Polynesia which appeared in the oceanic number of that periodical. I wish also to thank the trustees and director of the Bishop Museum for their courtesy in permitting access to manuscript material needed for this study and in furnishing every facility for work during various visits to Honolulu, and the librarian and staff for helpful co-operation. Discussion of textual and social problems with Sir Peter Buck, Dr. Kenneth Emory, Dr. Samuel H. Elbert, and other members of the staff has been a constant source of stimulus. Although for the final form of the work I must hold myself alone responsible, my appreciation of their aid is here gratefully acknowledged. Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Robert Redfield for his exceedingly helpful interest in arranging for the publication of the manuscript, and to the officers of the Press for their cordial co-operation.


Social and Historical Background


The Prose Note

THE Hawaiian Kumulipo is a genealogical prayer chant linking the royal family to which it belonged not only to primary gods belonging to the whole people and worshiped in common with allied Polynesian groups, not only to deified chiefs born into the living world, the Ao, within the family line, but to the stars in the heavens and the plants and animals useful to life on earth, who must also be named within the chain of birth and their representatives in the spirit world thus be brought into the service of their children who live to carry on the line in the world of mankind. To understand such a family chant, it is necessary to know what we can of its social and political background, how it came to be composed, the part it played in the ceremonial life of a chief's household, its importance as a perquisite of rank.

Some of these questions are answered on the title-pages of the published text and the queen's translation, others in the prose note affixed to the Kalakaua text, amplified from the original Hawaiian manuscript by the insertion of a paragraph, the third, explaining more fully the family connection of the child to whom the chant is said to have been dedicated. "A prayer of dedication of a chief, A Kumulipo for Ka-'I-amamao and (passed on by him) to Alapai'i-wahine (woman)," reads the title-page of the Kalakaua text. Queen Liliuokalani is more specific. "An ancient prayer for the dedication of the high chief Lono-i-ka-makahiki to the gods soon after his birth," she writes, a discrepancy in name explained in the note itself, and she adds the date 1700 for the time of its composition and the name of Keaulumoku as its composer. The prose note as translated under the direction of Mrs. Mary Pukui and checked with the queen's rendering of certain passages reads as follows:

Hewahewa and Ahukai were the persons who recited this chant to Alapa'i-wahine at Koko on Oahu. Ke'eaumoku was lying on his deathbed. The Lono-i-ka-makahiki mentioned in the chant was Ka-'I-'i-mamao. Lono-i-ka-makahiki was the name given to him by his mother at his birth. She was Lono-ma-'I-kanaka. It was Keakealaniwahine [his paternal grandmother] who gave him his new name at the time when he was consecrated and given the Taboo, the Burning, the Fearful, the Prostrating Taboo, at the time when his naval cord was cut at the heiau of Kueku at Kahalu'u in Kona, Hawaii. Ka-'I-'i-mamao was the correct name. That was the true name Keakea gave the child, but the composers of the chant "Kekoauliko'okea ka Lani" called him by the name of Ka-lani-nui-'I-'i-mamao. The "Lani-nui" was just inserted by the composers; Ka-'I-'i-mamao was the correct form. The meaning of the word [mamao] is this. When Keawe lived with Lono-ma-'I-kanaka, a new strain was introduced into the family of 'I the father of Ahu and grandfather of Lono-ma-'I-kanaka; as if to say that this 'I was greater than all the other 'Is. This was the meaning of the word "mamao" ["far off," hence "removed," that is, high in rank] added to the first half of the name.

Before his banishment by the commoners of Ka-u for his evil deeds, [because of] his sleeping with his own daughter, with Kaolaniali'i, he was called by the name of "Wakea." It was under this name that he went with his kahu, Kapa'ihi-a-Hilina, to Kauai, to Kalihi-by-the-sea and Kalihi-by-the-streams, and to Hanalei, and he went to the bush country of Kahihikolo and became demented and wandered about in the uplands.

This was not the Lono-i-ka-makahiki who riddled with Kakuhihewa. A number of different chiefs were called Lono-i-ka-makahiki and they lived at different times. There were three Lono-i-ka-makahiki's. The first Lono-i-ka-makahiki was the son of Keawe-nui-a 'Umi; another was Lono-i-ka-makahiki the humpbacked. His time came later. He was the son of Kapulehuwaihele by Makakauali'i. The Lono-i-ka-makahiki whose prayer this was, that Lono-i-ka-makahiki was the son of Keawe-i-kekahi-ali'i-o-ka-moku by Lono-ma-'I-kanaka. That was the Ka-'I-'i-mamao here mentioned, the father of Ka-lai-opu'u and the grandparent fifth removed of the King Kalakaua now on the throne and grandparent fifth and fourth removed of Ka-pi'o-lani the present Queen Consort.

This chant of Kumulipo is the chant recited by Pu'ou to Lono (Captain Cook) as he stood while a sacrifice of pork was offered to him at the heiau of Hikiau at Kealakekua.

The priest had said at the time of Ka-'I-'i-mamao's death that Lono would come again, that is, Ka-'I-'i-mamao, and would return by sea on the canoes 'Auwa'alalua.

That was why Captain Cook was called Lono.

Besides explaining the dedication of the chant under two different names, the prose note seems to connect it with the consecration of Keawe's son in the temple at the time of his birth, as well as with two other occasions at which its recitation is definitely stated. The first of these recitations was at the ceremony in the temple for Captain Cook when he was received as the god Lono; the second was at the time of Ke'eaumoku's death. The sacred character of the chant is thus clearly established. In two instances it was apparently connected with a religious ceremony within a heiau. In the two instances in which the reciters are named they are priests and two in number, since a chant of such importance could not be intrusted to the memory of a single individual and the technical effort involved must have been of an exacting nature. The reciters seem also to have been priests of rank. Of Hewahewa who chanted as Ke'eaumoku lay dying, we are told that he claimed lineal descent from the priest Paao whom tradition claimed to have migrated to Hawaii before intercourse with southern groups had ceased and to have introduced reforms on that island at a time of decay of the chiefship. After the death of Kamehameha, who had striven to retain ancient religious practices, and the acceptance by the chiefs of Christianity, Hewahewa himself is said to have been active in demolishing the images that embellished the old temple structures.

The death of Ke'eaumoku, dated 1804 by Hawaiian chronology, like that of Captain Cook's landing on Hawaii in 1779, falls well within known history. Ke'eaumoku was uncle and supporter of Kamehameha and father of his favorite wife. The lady Alapa'i the queen identifies with the child of Ka-'I-'i-mamao by his own daughter, "a woman chief of the highest rank then at Koko, Oahu." The alliance had earned for the chief the joking sobriquet of "Wakea" in allusion to the myth that the original ancestor of the race was child of the Sky-god Wakea by the daughter born to him by the Earth-mother Papa, but this does not appear to have been one of the "evil deeds" for which the chief was banished, such unions seeming to have been accepted among persons of rank. A younger woman of the same name, granddaughter by his daughter Kauwa'a of that Alapa'i who was at one time ruling chief of the island of Hawaii, married John Young the younger, later premier under Kamahameha III. It may have been a last honor paid to her dying relative by the chiefess to whom it already belonged, or the younger Alapa'i-wahine may have been the final inheritor, to whom the family chant was at this time dedicated, or "named," as the Hawaiians say. To understand what such a chant contributed to the prestige of a family of rank, it will be necessary to know something of the terms upon which a ruling chief held his title to control over land rights and ultimately over the lives and activities of his followers.


Rank in Hawaii

POSITION in old Hawaii, both social and political, depended in the first instance upon rank, and rank upon blood descent-hence the importance of genealogy as proof of high ancestry. Grades of rank were distinguished and divine honors paid to those chiefs alone who could show such an accumulation of inherited sacredness as to class with the gods among men. Since a child inherited from both parents, he might claim higher rank than either one. The stories of usurping chiefs show how a successful inferior might seek intermarriage with a chiefess of rank in order that his heir might be in a better position to succeed his parent as ruling chief. In any case, a virgin wife must be taken in order to be sure of her child's paternity, hence the careful guarding of a highborn girl's virginity until her first child was born. Laxness in enforcing taboo rights lowered rank. Political power also had its bearing upon rank, perhaps because a ruling chief was in a position to enforce the taboos. Nevertheless, a chief might be himself dispossessed of lands and followers and forced to live like a commoner and yet claim the right of rank for his posterity.

The system by which closeness of blood relationship between parents of high birth was reckoned in determining the rank inherited by their offspring is described in four published sources. David Malo's account must date before 1853. Judge Fornander died in 1887, and his notes on the subject may belong to Kalakaua's time. The Hon. E. K. Lilikalani was court genealogist during the last period of the monarchy, and his manuscript, prepared "for the information of Liliuokalani" and published in 1932 by the Bishop Museum as an Appendix to Kepelino, must fall within the queen's reign. He dictated its contents to me in substantially the same form in 1914. Rivers must have obtained his similar information from Poepoe at about the same time.

David Malo is our earliest and probably best authority of the four on the system of reckoning rank in Hawaii before the intrusion of Western culture, since he lived at a time when the taboos were still in practice. Malo came from Keauhou, North Kona, on the island of Hawaii, where he was associated with the high chief Kuakini, acquired Hawaiian learning under Auwae, the favorite genealogist of Kamehameha, and took an active part as master of ceremonies at court entertainments. About 1820 he came to Lahaina on the island of Maui. There he became the friend of the Rev. William Richards of the American mission. Abandoning the old faith, he studied for the ministry in the Lahainaluna mission school and occupied a parish on West Maui until his death in 1853.

As Malo is our most reliable native source for ancient practice, so Fornander is the leading foreign authority. Son of a distinguished Swedish clergyman and himself a man of education, he was a resident of the Hawaiian Islands from 1842 until his death in 1887. Much of the time he was engaged in government service. He was married to a Hawaiian chiefess, spoke the language fluently, and was able to claim personal acquaintance with all classes "from the King to the poorest fisherman of the remotest hamlet." He thus won the respect and confidence of native and foreigner alike.

Malo, Lilikalani, and Poepoe do not differ essentially in their grading of the ranking system. All would give highest rank to the child of own brother and sister, the grades descending according to distance in kinship blood between the two parents, provided these are themselves of high chief, that is, of niaupi'o rank. The union of brother and sister, says Malo, is a pi'o ("arching") union symbolized by the figure of a bow. That between children of younger or elder brothers and sisters (first cousins) is a ho'i ("return") union. Less desirable is the union between half-brother and sister, called a naha, probably correctly a nahá ("broken") union. The child in all three cases would be of the niaupi'o class but entitled to different degrees of veneration in the form of taboos. The child of a pi'o union was an akua, a god. So sacred is the child of such a union that he is spoken of as "a fire, a blaze, a raging heat, only at night is it possible for such children to speak with men," this lest the shadow of the god falling upon a house render it sacred, hence uninhabitable. A person even accidentally profaning thus the sacred taboo chief was in danger of death. A chief of divine rank therefore went abroad at night, and the most sacred chiefs were always carried about in a litter (manele) lest their very footsteps make the ground forbidden. Offspring of both pi'o and ho'i unions were entitled to the prostrating taboo, tapu-moe, but the child of a naka union had only the crouching taboo, tapu-a-noho.

Judge Fornander understands the system slightly differently. He would give the tapu-moe to all three of these unions. Under the highest or pi'o grade he would include children of a half- as well as own brother and sister. By a naha union he understands the child of parents of the same family but of different generations and instances the union of father and daughter or of a girl with her mother's brother. As example of the pi'o rank he cites the child of Keawe by his half-sister Kaulele. Ka-'I-'i-mamao, child of Keawe by a niaupi'o chiefess of different parents, has only the niaupi'o rank. A girl born to Keawe by his own daughter was reckoned of naha rank.

Judge Fornander does not mention marriages between first cousins; Malo makes no reference to marriages in different generations. Since the whole ranking system seems to consist in an effort to distinguish the prerogatives of chiefs from those of commoners, it would not be surprising if unions considered favorable among chiefs were exactly those not practiced or even held to be incestuous among commoners. Rivers was told that marriages between first cousins were not permitted by Hawaiians and that their tolerance by the mission at first stood in the way of Hawaiian acceptance of the new teaching.

From these informants we gain only a partial view of family relationships and attitudes as they affected rank among chiefs in ancient days, only such as were preserved up to the time of the last days of the monarchy. Certain it is that there existed a developed system of rank based primarily upon blood descent but also dependent to some extent upon political power and marked by a severe etiquette designed to mark off the chief class from that of commoners through the claim of direct descent from ancestral gods. Hence the preservation of such a genealogical chant of beginnings as the Kumulipo was of the highest importance in establishing the rank of a ruling family.


The First-born Son and the Taboo

OF THE ceremonies attending the birth of a chief's son who is the first-born of his mother, two accounts are available, one an unsigned text 'With translation by John Wise included in the Fornander Collection, the other a translation by Dr. Emerson from Malo's Hawaiian Antiquities.' The Fornander paper stresses the precautions taken to keep the highborn couple apart and virgin until the time for their first mating. This takes place in a kind of tent under guard, and thereafter the girl is closely watched in order to make sure of the parentage of her expected offspring. At the first sign of pregnancy she is placed under taboo lest evil befall the child through sorcery or inadvertently through offended deities. The people are meanwhile urged to "dance in honor of my child, all ye men, all ye chiefs." Name songs (na inoa) are composed and sung about the countryside. At the time of birth a priest is summoned, sacrifices are offered, "drums are beaten and prayers at intervals are offered from a separate place, in honor of the child." If a son is born, he is "taken before the deity in the presence of the priests," that is, to the heiau, or temple. There the priest ties the umbilical cord and cuts it with a bamboo knife.

David Malo's in some respects more specific account does not differ essentially from that given in the Fornander paper. The composition and chanting of songs before the birth of the young taboo chief is similarly described. Malo writes: if after this [the formal mating] it is found that the princess is with child there is great rejoicing among all the people that a chief of rank has been begotten. If the two parents are of the same family, the offspring will be of the highest possible rank.

Then those who composed the meles (haku mele) were sent for to compose a mele inoa that should eulogize and blazon the ancestry of the new chief-to-be, in order to add distinction to him when he should be born.

And when the bards had composed their meles satisfactorily (a holo na mele), they were imparted to the hula dancers to be committed to memory. It was also their business to decide upon the attitudes and gestures, and to teach the inoa to the men and women of the hula [i.e., the chorus].

After that the men and women of the hula company danced and recited the mele inoa of the unborn chief with great rejoicing, keeping it up until such time as the prince was born; then the hula ceased....

... and when the child was born if a boy, it was carried to the heiau, there to have the navel string cut in a ceremonious fashion. When the cord had first been tied with olona [fiber], the kahuna, having taken the bamboo [knife], offered prayer, supplicating the gods of heaven and earth and the king's kaai gods [bones of ancestors preserved in woven baskets] whose images were standing there....

The child Ka-'I-'i-mamao to whom the Kumulipo chant is said to have been "named," was undoubtedly born to the purple, as we say. The family name 'I means "supreme" and the epithet mamao expressed the further "remoteness" to which his rank entitled him as first-born of a daughter of the ruling 'I family of Hilo district to that Keawe who was called "foremost chief of the island," Keawe-i-kekahi-ali'i-o-ka-moku. The two families were closely related by blood; the child was the first-born of his mother, hence he was held to be a god among men, with from infancy the rank of a niaupi'o chief entitled to the strictest of taboo rights, the kapu moe or prostrating taboo, the kapu wela or burning taboo. Commoners must fall on their faces before him, chiefs of low rank must crouch in approaching him. If he went abroad by day he was preceded by the cry Tapu! moe! If an object connected with his person such as clothing or bath water was being carried by, the officer who bore it, a close relative with the title of wohi, warned with the cry Tapu! a noho! and all must drop to a squatting posture. To remain standing in either case was punishable by death. Even chiefs, if of lower rank, must uncover the upper part of the body in coming into his presence, as a token of reverence.

The length to which taboo was carried in Hawaii must have developed locally under the stress of competition among ruling houses. It was also a means of power to the priesthood. The prostration taboo with the penalty for its infraction of death by burning, the terrible Kapu wela o na Wi, tradition says was brought from the island of Kauai to Oahu whence it was introduced into Maui at the time of the ruling chief Kekaulike, who must have been a near contemporary of Ka-'I-'i-mamao, since his daughter Kalola became wife to that chief's son; Malo indeed calls its introduction "modern." Only the uncovering of the upper part of the body in coming into the presence of a high chief is noticed by Ellis in Tahiti. Firth speaks of the crouching position taken in Tikopia by one who brings a gift to appease a chief whose anger he has incurred, and Alexander reports from the Marshall Islands in the early seventies: "The people of ... Kusaie and Ponape are all serfs. The chiefs own all the land and when a common native approaches the chief, he comes crouching." Certainly the idea of the divinity of ruling chiefs and the consequent sacredness attaching to their persons and effects is not unique in the Polynesian area. A position of humility as an acknowledgment of rank was, as we know, widespread throughout Asiatic courts. The custom served to increase among the commoners fear and awe for their rulers as representatives of the gods on earth, as well as to preserve, by means of a severe etiquette, respect for blood descent among the chief class itself.


Lono of the Makahiki

THE prose note explains the name Lono-i-ka-makahiki with which the final genealogy of the chant concludes-"To Ahu, to Ahu-a-'I, to Lono-i-ka-makahiki"--as the name given to the infant by his mother at his birth, to be replaced after his consecration in the temple by the name by which he is known in history. The word maka, "eye," refers to the constellation of the Pleiades, hiki is a sign of movement; the word translated liberally hence refers to the rising of the Pleiades in the heavens corresponding with the time of the sun's turn northward, bringing warmth again to earth, the growth of plants, and the spawning of fish. At this time a festival was celebrated in honor of the fertility god Lono, god of cultivated food plants not alone in Hawaii but throughout marginal Polynesian islands, and prayed to in Hawaiian households to send rain and sunshine upon the growing crops, spawn to fill the fishing stations, offspring to mankind. His signs were observed in the clouds. Heiau were built to Lono not in time of war but under stress of famine or scarcity. His worship was mild, without human sacrifice such as belonged to the severer worship of the war god Ku. Any man might set up a temple to Lono, a ruling chief alone to the god Ku as a prayer for success in war, for life in case of illness, or upon the birth of a first-born son.

During the Makahiki period athletic sports were celebrated, said to have been inaugurated by the god Lono in person. "Father Lono," symbolized by a long pole with a strip of tapa and other embellishments attached, was carried about from district to district to collect taxes ('auhau) in the shape of products given in return for the use of the land distributed by each overlord among his family group. There was also a ceremony in which "a structure of basket-work, called the wa'a-'auhau," literally "tribute-canoe," was sent adrift "to represent the canoe in which Lono returned to Tahiti," or more probably the tribute paid to the absent god from the food supply of the past year, earnest of similar gifts in the year to follow.

Symbolic forms of this sort look as if Lono of the Makahiki had once appeared in the person of some voyager who brought culture gifts, introduced athletic sports, perhaps also the Polynesian custom of the ho'okupu or tributary offering, a word meaning literally "to cause to grow, as a vegetable; to spring up, as a seed." The offering sent to sea to feed the god was hence to come back to the people in abundant crops for the coming season. The basket of food was to provide for the god's "return" in symbol in the year to follow.

There was indeed a tradition that such a human manifestation of the god had actually appeared, established games and perhaps the annual taxing, and then departed to "Kahiki," promising to return "by sea on the canoes 'Auwa'alalua" according to the prose note. "A Spanish man of war" translates the queen, remembering a tradition of arrival of a Spanish galleon beaten out of its course in the early days of exploration of the Pacific; "a very large double canoe" is Mrs. Pukui's more literal rendering, from 'Au[hau]-wa'a-l[o]a-lua. The blue-sailed jellyfish we call "Portuguese man-of-war" Hawaiians speak of, perhaps half in derision, as 'Auwa'alalua. The mother honored Keawe's son, perhaps born propitiously during the period of the Makahiki, by giving him the name of Lono-i-ka-Makahiki, seeing perhaps in the child a symbol of the god's promised return.

Another and earlier Lono-i-ka-makahiki on the 'Umi line of ruling chiefs of Hawaii is better known to Hawaiian legendary history. This Lono was born and brought up not far from the place where were laid away the bones of Keawe and his descendants, woven into basket-work like those of his ancestors from the time of Liloa, near the place where Captain Cook's grave stands, a monument to a brave but in the end too highhanded a visitor among an aristocratic race such as the Polynesian. This Lono cultivated the arts of war and of word-play and was famous as a dodger of spears and expert riddler. He too may have contributed to the tests of skill observed during the ceremony of the Makahiki.

It is not, however, likely that either of these comparatively late ruling chiefs on the 'Umi line was the Lono whose departure was dramatized in the Makahiki festival and whose "return" the priests of the Lono cult on Hawaii anticipated so eagerly. Both were born in Hawaii, and no legend tells of either of them sailing away with a promise to return. A more plausible candidate for the divine impersonation is the legendary La'a-mai-Kahiki, "Sacred-one-from-Tahiti," who belongs to a period several hundred years earlier, before intercourse had been broken off with southern groups. La'a came as a younger member of the Moikeha family of North Tahiti, older members of whom had settled earlier in the Hawaiian group. He brought with him the small hand drum and flute of the hula dance. As his canoe passed along the coast and the people heard the sound of the flute and the rhythm of the new drum-beat, they said, "It is the god Kupulupulu!" and brought offerings. Kupulupulu is Laka, worshiped as god of the hula in the form of the flowering lehua tree and welcomed also as god of wild plant growth upon which the earliest settlers had subsisted and still continued to subsist to some extent during the cold winter months before staple crops were ready to gather. This La'a-mai-kahiki took wives in various districts, especially on Oahu, stronghold of Lono worship, from whom families now living claim descent. He seems to have sailed back to Tahiti at least once before his final departure In this sojourner belonging to a great family from the south, who came like a god, enriched the festival of the New Year with games and drama, possibly organized the collection of tribute on a southern pattern, and departed leaving behind him a legend of divine embodiment, one is tempted to recognize a far earlier appearance of that Lono of the Makahiki in whose name the Kumulipo chant was dedicated to Keawe's infant son and heir.

Not that it is necessary to attach the symbol of divine incarnation to any actual historical event. Arrival and departure by canoe would be the normal way to dramatize the advent of a god. Just as Vedic hymns visualize the arrival of invited gods to the sacrifice in chariots drawn by steeds each of a distinctive color because thus they were accustomed to see their own superiors approach, so Lono would come to island dwellers in a double canoe of divine proportions such as their own chiefs employed. Not this chief or that was the unique god of the Makahiki. In each human birth of a niaupi'o child there lived anew a Lono to preserve and carry forward the sacred stock. Each year when the sun turned its course northward and warmth and quiet weather prevailed, there returned to his worshipers this procreative force, the beneficent god of the Makahiki.


Captain Cook as Lono

WE KNOW that once, indeed, in historic times, the god Lono's looked-for return seemed to have become a reality. The British officer Captain James Cook, sailing north under orders to explore the Pacific Coast of North America for a northwest passage to the Atlantic, touched upon a hitherto uncharted island, northernmost of the Hawaiian group, and on, his return, on January 17, 1779, anchored off Kealakekua, "Pathway-of-the-gods," on the larger island of Hawaii. The wondering multitude crowding the shore to witness this marvel were easily persuaded by their priests of the Lono cult that the prophesied day was at hand.

The story is told circumstantially by Cook's underofficer, Captain James King, who often accompanied Cook on his visits to shore and was taken by the natives for his son. Upon first landing, King writes that they "were received by four men, who carried wands tipped with dog's hair, and marched before us, pronouncing with a loud voice a short sentence, in which we could only distinguish the word Orono.... The crowd, which had been collected on the shore, retired at our approach; and not a person was to be seen, except a few lying prostrate on the ground, near the huts of the adjoining village." The account tallies well with what we know of the prostrating taboo in the presence of deity and of the identification of the visitor with the god of the Makahiki, about the time of which festival Cook's arrival took place. Hence the invocation to "O Rono" (Lono), as a note adds: "Captain Cook generally went by this name among the natives of Owhyee [Hawaii]; but we could never learn its direct meaning. Sometimes they applied it to an in visible being, who, they said, lived in the heavens. We also found that it was a title belonging to a person of great rank and power in the island, who resembles pretty much the Delai Lama of the Tartars, and the celestial emperor of Japan."

The stone platform is still standing that marks the site of the heiau to which the priests of Lono conducted Cook and his companion for the ceremony of chanting and offerings appropriate to the welcome of a god. The prose note asserts that at this time the Kumulipo prayer chant was recited, with "Puou" as the officiating priest. Unfortunately King's full description of the occasion neither confirms nor disproves the tradition. Puou is easily to be identified with the old chief called "Koah" in King's account, who seems to have taken the lead throughout in the reception of the visitors. He had been a great warrior but at this time is described as "a little old man, of an emaciated figure; his eyes exceedingly sore and red, and his body covered with a white leprous scurf." Another priest, described by King as "a tall young man with a long beard," also took part in the chanting. King writes the name as "Kairekeekeea," possibly to be identified with Pailili or Pailiki, who, according to Fornander, substituted at this time for his absent father.

This younger priest chanted "a kind of hymn ... in which he was joined by Koah." Of their manner of chanting King writes: "Their speeches, or prayers, were delivered ... with a readiness and volubility that indicated them to be according to some formulary." At the presentation of a dressed hog to the captain, Koah "addressed him in a long speech, pronounced with much vehemence and rapidity." With Cook perched on a kind of scaffolding, the two priests further delivered a chant "sometimes in concert, and sometimes alternately" and lasting "a considerable time." Finally, before the guests were fed, the younger priest "began the same kind of chant as before, his companion making regular responses." These diminished to a single "Orono," an invocation plainly addressed to the god Lono, believed to be there present in the person of the distinguished stranger.

It is not surprising that during the days that followed the successful attack against a god who had proved fallible to weapons, the old warrior advised putting to rout the whole expedition, while the young chief, who had acted as political head during the absence of his superior, remained friendly. The matter-of-fact way in which the multitude regarded the death of a god has curious confirmation in King's statement that after Cook's death the people inquired anxiously of King when "the Orono" would come again.'


Two Dynasties

THE year 1700 for the date of composition of the Kumulipo chant and the name of Keaulumoku for its composer appear on the title-page of the queen's translation. Both statements are highly conjectural. To a song-maker called "Keaulumoku" is ascribed the famous prophetic vision still extant, describing the conquest of Hawaii by Kamehameha and dated 1782 by Hawaiian chronologists. This was only a few years after Cook's visit. The poet's dates are given from 1716 to 1784. However inexact, they certainly preclude the possibility that the same man composed a birth chant for Keawe's son and heir and a threnody for the defeat of the young heir who inherited the overlordship after the long rule ended of Keawe's grandson born to the same parent for whom the Kumulipo prayer chant is claimed. Possibly the name was titular and passed from one court poet to another. Possibly to the renowned poet of Kamehameha's rime was intrusted the task of weaving together family genealogies and eulogistic songs into an integrated whole such as we have in the Kumulipo chant as it exists today. Such was undoubtedly the custom within a great house risen to power.

For the date, if the chant was actually originally recited to celebrate the birth of Keawe's son, the year 1700 may not be inexact. Ka-'I-'i-mamao had no long rule after Keawe's death, and his son Kalani-opu'u was certainly ruling chief at the time of Cook's arrival in 1779. Chronology gives 1752 as the date of his succession. Keawe's period must date back to the early eighteenth century. Eulogistic chants call him "Lord [Haku] of Hawaii," the term Mo'i, "Supreme," not having been used, says Stokes, before the time of Kamehameha III. In chant he is named

Kane the Earth-shaker,
The chief Keawe from the thunder-cloud,
The Heavenly-one who joined together the island.

The boast of divine origin put forth in the chant of his rival Kuali'i of Oahu is said to be an attempt to offset the prestige derived by Keawe from the long lineage claimed for his family stock in the Kumulipo. "Are you two equal?" asks the poet, and he answers:

He [Keawe] is not equal to Ku [Kuali'i],
Not equal to the Heavenly-one,
No comparison is here,
A man is he,
A god is Ku,
A messenger is Ku from the heavens,
A stranger is Ku from Kahiki.

With such boasts the Oahu peerage sought to discredit the claims of its powerful rival on the island of Hawaii.

The system of inheritance according to rank has always proved itself one well calculated to stir up discord between rival aspirants. Hawaii was no exception to this rule. Kamehameha's conquest, which finally brought the whole group under the one ruling family, began with a struggle for land of a disinherited faction after the death of Kalani-opu'u, grandson of Keawe. It was indeed from two sons of Keawe by different mothers, not without later intertwinings of family relationship, that were descended the two lines who ruled over the united kingdom throughout the period of the monarchy from the opening of the nineteenth century to its last decade; on the one side the ruling house of the Kamehameha kings, on the other that of Kalakaua and his sister successor.

A brief sketch of the history of these family relations during the eighteenth century leading up to the monarchy of the nineteenth will make this clear. Keawe's title of "foremost chief over the island" had been fairly nominal. The powerful 'I family descended on the Maui line from 'Umi dominated Hilo district, the Mahi family ruled Kohala and probably Hamakua. It was the districts of Ka-u and Kona that Keawe's sons actually inherited. To the first-born son to his chiefess of the 'I family went the lands of Ka-u district, to another son born to Keawe by his half-sister Kaulele fell the coveted lands of Kona. From this son the Kamehameha dynasty was descended; from Ka-'I-'i-mamao the King Kalakaua and his sister Lili'uokalani claimed descent.

To Kaulele tradition gives a rank above that of her half-brother and a corresponding place as co-ruler with him. "Excessive" the word means, perhaps referring to her size of frame. Certainly "excessive" she was in her favors according to the custom of chiefs in high-ranking circles, so that the story of struggle and turmoil throughout the turbulent eighteenth century on the island, marked toward its close by the intrusion of foreigners and culminating in the conquest of the group under Kamehameha I, is bound up in great part with the activities of the rival offspring of this restless and accommodating chiefess. To a chief of the Mahi family she bore that Alapa'i who rose in rebellion against the sons of Keawe and ruled wisely over their lands during the nonage of their sons. By a visiting high chief from the island of Kauai she became grandparent of that Ke'eaumoku who listened on his deathbed to the chant of the Kumulipo at the turn of the century, the man who had been most active in inciting Kamehameha to rebellion, father also of that remarkable woman called "Cape-of-bird-feathers," Ka'ahumanu, who became the favorite wife of the conqueror. For Kamehameha himself genealogists claim direct descent in the fourth generation from the union of Kaulele with her half brother Keawe.

It was, however, through the 'I family union that the ruling power returned to Keawe's line. After Alapa'i's death his weak son was overpowered and slain, and the son of Ka-'I-'i-mamao became ruling chief over Hawaii. This was that Kalani-opu'u who appears as "Tereeboo" in King's account of the events surrounding the death of Captain Cook. His life was one of constant strife, first against Alapa'i's son, then in continual sorties against the island of Maui, where he seems to have claimed lands not only in his own right through direct descent from the great Pi'ilani family of East Maui but also through marriage with Kalola, own sister of the ruling chief of that island and a lady of very high taboo rank. Her son Kiwala'o succeeded his father, and it was the divison {sic} of lands by this new overlord after Kalani-opu'u's death that precipitated the revolt of the Kamehameha faction. Kiwala'o fell in battle. His half-brother Keoua by another mother of inferior rank, the Kane-kapolei who appears as the chief's consort in King's account under the name of "Kanee-Kabareea," yielded to treachery.

Conquest over the one island was quickly followed by that over the whole group, aided by superior weapons purchased or seized from the foreigners. In order firmly to establish his position, the conqueror sought marriage alliances with the blue-blooded families of Maui as well as with those of his own island, who looked upon him as a usurper against the legitimate line of out-ranking chiefs from Keawe. The Maui chiefess Kalola was, after the affable custom of chief wives, both mother of Kiwala'o as consort of Kalani-opu'u and, by this husband's half-brother of Kona--the same who became father of Kamehameha--she was mother also of Kiwala'o's chief wife. She bore to him a daughter, and this girl Kamehameha took as his own chief wife and parent of the succeeding line of Kamehameha kings who ruled after the death of their great ancestor. On her father's side she belonged to the legitimate Ka-u branch, on her mother's to the Kona, and on both sides she could claim connection with the purest blood of Maui, besides the culminating sacredness imposed by the close mingling of half-brother and sister blood. Of so lofty a rank indeed was this chiefess that Kamehameha himself must uncover the upper part of his body on coming into her presence.

By 1874 the line of the Kamehameha family was extinct. Prince David Kalakaua became king by a stormy election and ruled until his death in 1891. He was succeeded by his sister Lydia, the Queen Lili'uokalani, who was the last representative of the Hawaiian monarchy before its overthrow and the setting-up of a provisional government in 1893, followed in 1898 by annexation of the islands to the United States as the Territory of Hawaii. The election of Kalakaua had not been without bitter opposition. It was to his interest and later to that of his sister as queen to uphold in every way the family claim to blood descent from the fountain source of Keawe's line. With the freeing of the slave class, the abolition of the taboos, the development of a constitutional form of government participated in by foreigners to whom the native rules of rank were alien, and the opening-up of lands to individual ownership, the outward marks distinguishing the chief class had disappeared. Only the name chants and genealogies remained to preserve a family's claim to noble ancestry. The king sought to revive interest in old tradition. A society was formed, and proof of such ancestry was demanded for membership. The printing of the Kumulipo seems to have come as one result of this movement back to old court practices and the ancient clash of rank between the sons of Keawe.

It must be parenthetically observed that, in summarizing the path of events leading up to the publication of the Kumulipo, I have followed Fornander without calling in question the factual accuracy of genealogies handed down from Keawe. Actual blood relationship must always be a debatable point under the social etiquette then prevailing in court circles. It is their conventional acceptance that gives them social and political importance for the historian. Sexual freedom for a chiefess after the birth of her first child was accepted or even encouraged by court custom. The father of Kalani-opu'u is said to have been, not Ka-'I-'i-mamao, but Peleioholani, son of Kuali'i and ruling chief of Oahu. The ruling chief Kahekili of Maui was almost certainly the father of Kamehameha. Keawe himself has the name of having mingled his strain with that of every family in the realm, chief or commoner. But for genealogical purposes a wife's children were generally accepted as his own by the nominal husband unless the actual parent was in a position of advantage in rank and power which made him worth cultivating by an ambitious offspring. The journey of a first-born child of his mother to seek recognition of a highborn father in a distant land is hence a favorite theme of Hawaiian saga and romance.

The effect of such loose matrimonial relations in a land where inherited blood counted above all things in establishing the perquisites of rank is to be seen in the dual pattern of court genealogies, where an unbroken line of descent often depends upon the female when a male parent fails. The Keawe line from 'Umi is twice so preserved on the 'Ulu genealogy. Both genealogies for the Kalakaua family derive finally through the mother.


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