Hawaiian Mythology
by Martha Beckwith 1940



The romance of Laie-i-ka-wai (Laie in the water) is the story of a high tapu chiefess concealed at birth in a cave reached by diving through a pool of water and later reared under tapu in an earthly paradise prepared for her in Paliuli in the uplands of Puna by her mo‘o guardian Waka, who hopes to gain wealth and position by arranging a marriage for her to some high chief. An impostor steps in on the eve of marriage and she is abandoned by Waka and her twin sister substituted in her place. Through a group of guardian girls, the abandoned sisters of a rejected suitor who has tried to use their kupua powers to win the chiefess and has then attempted to storm her tapu house by force, she wins a very high tapu chief from the heavens as a husband, her foes are punished, and she herself goes to dwell in the heavens with her husband. He proves unfaithful, his parents cast him out, and his wife joins her sister and is worshiped today as a goddess.


Laie-i-ka-wai and her twin sister Laie-lohelohe are born at Laie on Oahu of Kahauokapaka the father, chief of the northern lands of the island, and Malaekahana the mother. Since the father has vowed to let no daughter born to his wife live until she bears him a son, the mother conceals the birth of the twins and gives them to her own relatives to rear, Laie-lohelohe to Ka-puka-i-haoa to bring up at the heiau at Ku-kani-loko, and Laie-i-ka-wai to Waka, who first hides her in a cave near Laie which can be reached only by diving into the pool which conceals the entrance, and then takes her to the uplands of Puna. Here she builds a tapu house for her ward thatched with bird feathers, and gives her birds to wait upon her and mists to hide her from the sight of men until such time as a suitable lover shall appear to make her his wife.

The first whose suit seems acceptable is Kauakahi-ali‘i, ruling chief of Kauai and husband of Ka-ili-o-ka-lau-o-ke-koa (Skin like the leaf of the koa). The reappearance of his wife whom he had mourned for dead prevents the appointed meeting, but on his return to Kauai he relates the adventure and the young chiefs of that island are stirred by the story. Aiwohikupua meets her nightly in dream and goes to woo her, but even the presence of his four sweet-scented kupua sisters, named after the four varieties of maile vine whose scent they inherit, cannot shake her refusal. Enraged by the insult, he abandons the sisters in the forest. His fifth and favorite sister, Ka-hala-o-mapuana (The fragrant hala blossom) refuses to abandon them. Through her clever management she attracts the attention of Laie-i-ka-wai and the five are adopted as sisters and made the guardians of Paliuli. They drive off their brother upon his second attempt to win the chiefess, and a guardian mo‘o named Kiha-nui-lulu-moku (Great mo‘o shaking the island) completes his discomfiture. Another and more favored young chief from Kauai named Hauailike is also expelled by the watchful youngest sister.

Waka now arranges a match with Ke-kalukalu-o-ke-wa, younger brother of Ka-ili-o-ka-lau-o-ke-koa and successor with her to Kauakahi as ruling chief of Kauai. Just as the formal marriage (hoao) is about to be consummated, a young rascal from Puna named Hala-aniani, aided by his sorceress sister, carries her off on his surfboard in place of the legitimate lover. Waka finds them sleeping together and abandons the girl in a rage, stripping her of mist and bird guardians and of the house thatched with feathers whose protection her loose conduct has forfeited. The five sisters and the great mo‘o, however, refuse to abandon their mistress. Since the Kauai chief has made her twin sister Laie-lohelohe his wife in place of their disgraced mistress, they determine to retrieve her fortunes by providing a more splendid match, and the clever youngest sister is despatched, with the great mo‘o as carrier, to fetch their oldest brother who lives as a god in a tapu house in the very center of the sun in the highest heavens. While she is away on this errand the group leave Paliuli and travel about the island and, meeting an old family guardian and seer named Hulu-maniani, make their home with him as adopted daughters at Honopuwai-akua on Kauai.

Throughout the course of the story this old seer (kaula) has been following around the islands after the rainbow sign which hovers over the place where Laie-i-ka-wai is hidden, determined to make this new divinity his chief and thus provide for his own old age.

Ka-onohi-o-ka-la (Eyeball of the sun) looks favorably upon his sister's proposal and, putting off his nature as a god, he descends to earth, strips the enemies of Laie-i-ka-wai of their lands and power and, leaving Ke-kalukalu-o-ke-wa and the twin sister rulers over Kauai, gives to each of the sisters rule over one of the other islands of the group and takes Laie-i-ka-wai up on a rainbow to live with him in Ka-hakaekaea. All goes well until, on one of his visits to earth to see that all goes well there, he notices the budding beauty of his sister-in-law. He presses his attentions and succeeds in securing her. His wife in the heavens wonders what important affairs keep him so long on earth. In the temple at Kahakaekaea stands the gourd Lau-ka-palili which reveals to one who looks within what is going on below. Laie-ika-wai discovers her husband's infidelity and reports him to his parents, who live with her in the heavens. They banish him to become a wandering spirit, the first lapu (ghost) in Hawaii. Laie-i-ka-wai returns to earth and lives like a god with her sister. Today she is worshiped as Ka-wahine-o-ka-liula (Lady of the twilight, mist, or mirage). 

The story may be analyzed as follows:

(A) A girl child is rescued at birth and brought up (A1) by relatives, (A2) by divinities.

(B) She journeys from one place to another (B1) accompanied by signs.

(C) She is isolated under tapu to await marriage (C1) in a specially prepared house, (C2) with kupua guardians, (C3) in the midst of a group of maidens.

(D) She is visited by an unsuccessful suitor (D1) who attempts to win her in battle.

(E) She breaks her tapu for an unknown suitor, who turns out to be (E1) a high chief, (E2) of low birth.

(F) She secures a high chief for a husband.

(G) She is deserted for a younger relative.

The early publication of this romance has fixed its form as Haleole printed it; there are no variants. Westervelt's story of Paliula's marriage to her highborn brother in the romance of Ke-ao-melemele is obviously composed out of similar material. In both stories the mo‘o guardian Waka (Waha) prepares for her ward a house thatched with feathers and a garden of plenty in the uplands of Puna in which she awaits a suitable husband. In both the girl is deserted for another woman. Poliahu plays a similar seductive role in both stories although of a minor character in the Laieikawai romance. Kahanai's journey to his bride in the form of lightning may be compared to Aiwohikupua's use of the lightning stroke at the boxing match in which he engages on the way to woo the beauty of Paliuli.

But the treatment of the two stories is entirely different. Haleole is novelistic in his handling of character. The supernatural character of the youngest sister of the Maile group becomes rationalized into a quick-witted and charming young person whose resources never fail under the most trying circumstances. Had her brother given her a chance, there is no doubt she would have won over the chiefess. When he proposes to take her home with him, she has spirit enough to refuse to abandon her sisters. She it is who keeps up their morale, devises ingenious methods for winning the attention of the chiefess, and brings it about that she and her sisters become her guardians. She it is who drives away unworthy suitors whom her softer-hearted sisters would have admitted, and when the chiefess whom she serves is won by an impostor and is stripped of her position of rank, it is she who makes the dangerous journey to a distant land to fetch back a bridegroom of sufficient rank to restore her mistress to honor. When the husband proves unfaithful, before daring to indulge his fresh passion it is her watchful eye of which he must rid himself. How human in fact is all this intrigue! How excellent a picture of the perfect chaperon!

From a rationalized wooing story the romance suddenly changes to a traditional pattern in recounting the messenger's journey to the heavens, an episode corresponding with that employed in the Kaanaelike romance where the girl on the island of virgins ascends to consult her parent Ku-waha-ilo about her marriage with the stranger. In Haleole's romance the members of the family dwell at different levels according to their rank as divinities. After voyaging for four months and ten days within the great mouth of the mo‘o the girl messenger reaches Ke-alohi-lani (The shining heaven). Above is the garden of Nu‘umealani, above this the heaven of Kahakaekaea to which she climbs by a spider web, although beaten back by hot sun and cold rain sent by her mother. There she finds her father lying face upward and, throwing herself upon his breast, makes herself known by chanting the family names. The cooperation of her mother, who lives above with her son but comes down during her monthly period to occupy her tapu house below, she forces by the artifice of securing the bloody garment which her mother has laid aside for the bath of purification at the end of her tapu period. The context makes it clear that the goddess wife fears lest the possession of this garment by her husband will in some way work her harm, a motive which suggests, in primitive form, the clothes-stealing incident in the swan-maiden story.

The actors in the story are not invented by the composer but drawn from familiar sources mythical or genealogical. The four sweet-scented Maile sisters, often accompanied by a fifth and favorite younger sister who has special powers of a god and by brothers who play a more or less active part in the story, are said to be even more popular figures in Hawaiian romance than the examples here brought together would argue. In the forests, wherever this fragrant myrtle vine (Alyxia myrtillifolia) abounds, is laid the scene of their wanderings. Their names are those given to the four varieties of maile which Hawaiians distinguish The kupua power of fragrance which they possess is entirely in accord with old belief, and the association of women with flowers and of goddesses with fragrance in giving romance names to such kupua figures is no doubt ancient and is logically borne out in this instance. Maile is associated with worship of the gods. Old Hawaiians declare that the subtle pervasive scent of maile still clings to those sites where ancient heiaus stood. Especially is the maile noted among the plants used for decorating the altar to the gods of the hula.

O Laka ke akua pule ikaika,
Ua ku ka maile a Laka a imua,
Ua lu ka hua o ka maile. . . .

"The prayer to the goddess Laka has power,
The maile of Laka stands foremost,
The goddess inspires her pupil as the maile scatters its fragrance. . . . "

runs the chant. Hence the Maile sisters in story may be a modern replacement of an older family of sisters who group about the figure of the volcano goddess and have as pet younger sister the Hi‘iaka-i-ka-poli-o-pele who plays so large a part in the Pele legend and acts as patroness of the hula dance.

Laie-i-ka-wai herself has some qualities of a volcano goddess. The course of her wanderings from Oahu, where she is born, to Hawaii, where she makes her home, corresponds with Pele's, who also establishes herself on the slopes of the same mountain. Her garden paradise of Paliuli resembles the Fern-house (Hale-ma‘uma‘u) which Pele makes cool and fresh within the flames of the volcano, in which to receive her lover. The scene in which Laie appears to defend her guardian's boast of her power, when her skirt laid upon the altar brings thunder and lightning, corresponds with the use, made by other heroines connected with the Pele family, of the sacred skirt (pa-u) to reduce their foes to ashes: with that of Namaka, who overwhelms the brothers of Aukele, and of Hi‘iaka who destroys her mo‘o enemies. This journey of the young guardian to the heavens to secure a husband for her mistress corresponds with that of Hi‘iaka to seek Lohiau. The story ends in the infidelity of the husband and his affair with another sister, punished by his exile and disgrace while she herself becomes a goddess and is worshiped as "the lady of the twilight." So Aukele makes love to the Pele sisters. Kaohelo's lover turns to Hi‘iaka. Kaanaelike's husband dallies with her young sister and like Lohiau is overwhelmed in a stream of fire. Leimakani is unfaithful to Lu‘ukia. Keanini abandons Hainakolo. It looks as if a story so full of human interest as that of Pele's jealousy of Hi‘iaka had fixed the infidelity motive inexorably as an ending to Hawaiian romantic fiction. Possibly the situation should be referred back still farther to Wakea's infidelity with Papa.

The name Laie is probably to be analyzed as La(u)-‘ie, "Leaf of the ‘ie vine," since the equivalent name of a Maui chiefess Laie-lohelohe refers to the "Drooping ‘ie vine." This red-spiked climbing pandanus (Freycinetia Arnotti) which wreaths forest trees of the uplands is sacred to the gods of the wild wood, patrons of the hula dance, of whom Laka is chief. The epithet -i-ka-wai (in the water) belongs also to the food-producing tree Ka-lala-i-ka-wai planted in Paliula's garden. Love affairs of kupua beings often end in Hawaiian folktale in the transformation of lady into pool of water and wooer into a tree at its source, symbol of the act of reproduction, and the food-producing tree Ka-lala-i-ka-wai is another symbol for the reproductive energy of male and female which fills the land with offspring. This seems a more plausible explanation of the name of this important romantic figure than that generally given as derived from the watery home of the girl hidden in her infancy in a pool at a place on Oahu called Laie, which is still visited as the traditional scene of the incident.

Such an analysis would agree well also with the plant names of other women who figure in the story. The clever youngest sister of the Maile girls bears the name of a plant sacred to the hula dance and one of the most prized for its odor, the fragrant pandanus blossom. In other stories she is called Kaulana, equivalent to Ka-ula-wena (The redness in the sky), which is a sacred name today in the Pele family. Kamakau writes that Mapuna-ia-aala (Springing up of fragrance), called also Ka-ula-wena, (Red light in the sky), was the daughter of Haumea when she came from over the sea with Kane and Kanaloa and lived on Maui and was taken to wife by Kahele-i-po, one of the two men of Maui who saw the party land. Local tradition calls Kahala-o-mapuana "one of a family of gods who lived on Kauiki in old days." An old pandanus (hala) tree on Kauai which bore red fruit instead of the customary yellow is pointed out today under the name of Kahalamapuana. Kaha-ula (Kaha[la]-ula?) is one of the gods invoked by Hi‘iaka to bring Lohiau back to life. According to Kalawe's chant, Kaha-ula is the god to whom the maile vine is dedicated in the hula dance. The clever little sister of the Laieikawai romance called Kahalaomapuana is the same as the youngest sister of the Ke-ao-melemele story, Kaulana-iki-poki‘i, she who remains virgin and becomes an expert in medicine, that is, in sorcery--a sorcery which she puts into practice in the Kaulana-poki‘i and Kaumailiula romances by bringing the dead to life and entangling her enemy in growing vines. She may thus be regarded as representing the deity of the Maile family of sisters as she would appear in her human form for purposes of romance. Westervelt's translation of the chant to Kaulanapoki‘i in the romance of Golden Cloud reads,

A stranger perhaps is outside,
A woman whose sign is the fog,
A stranger and yet my young sister,
The flower of the divine homeland,
The wonderful land of the setting sun
Going down into the deep blue sea.
You belong to the white ocean of Kane,
You are Kaulana-iki-poki‘i,
The daughter of the sunset,
The woman coming in the mist,
In the thunder and the flash of the lightning,
Quivering in the sky above. . . .

But this is not the whole story. In an invocation to Laka used in every hula ceremony, Laka is addressed as Kaulanaula, translatable as "Sacred one above":

A aloha mai ia makou e Kaulana-ula
Eia no ka ula la,
He ula leo, he kanaenae aloha na makou ia oe, e Laka,
E Laka e ho‘oulu ia.

"Grant us love, O Kaulana-ula,
Here is the sacred gift,
A gift given by the voice, a chant of affection from us to you, O Laka,
O Laka, inspire us."

The charming figure of the wise woman in the Laieikawai romance and in that of Golden Cloud and of Kaumailiula represents at least a namesake of the goddess of the A-lala-lahe chant, "The woman of Hilihili-lau-ka-maile," who is Laka, the fecund goddess of the upland forests worshiped in the hula dance.

Many other details of the romance may be matched with Polynesian custom, symbolic value, or traditional theme. It is justly called the masterpiece of Hawaiian romantic fiction. The garden paradise, which appears also in the closely corresponding romance of Golden Cloud, represents the life of a favorite child of high ranking chiefs brought up under tapu, waited upon by relatives of lower station, and allowed to do nothing for himself. The early care for virginity was for the purpose of insuring for such a child a match of equivalent rank, preferably that of a brother and sister, in order that the offspring might be of the highest possible sacredness or even attain the rank of god (akua) and thus lift the family to wealth and fame. All the relatives of such a child were concerned in the matter. It was the guardians themselves who were the matchmakers. Although the custom of virginity for life has not been reported for Hawaii, the idea is stressed in the story. Kahala-o-mapuana is such a virgin figure. Malio, kupua sister of the Puna rascal, lives in solitude apart from men. The Maile girls remain virgin "at the command of our parents." Laieikawai loses her value for her royal suitor by her scandalous affair with the wrong husband and her kupua attendants fall away from her with the giving up of virginity.

In some Polynesian groups a virgin isolation is continued through life with the idea that virginity increases power with the gods and hence brings success in foresight or sorcery. Such an advocate with the supernatural world is prized in a family. Among the Maori a practice called puhi prohibited the firstborn daughter of a chief from marrying or doing any work except to sew, with the idea of making her an important person in the tribe. In Samoa virginity is highly prized in a prospective bride. The leaves of the pandanus vine (‘ie) were used to make the finely plaited skirt called ‘ie-sina which became a special red garment worn only on the occasion of testing a girl's virginity. Until this time the "village maid," called taupou, was isolated with a group of girl friends and kept apart from men until a suitable match could be arranged for her. In Tonga a "taupoou" goddess whom two lovers tried to approach at night is to be seen changed into a mound beside the road with her two lovers similarly transformed on the ridge at the back. In the Lau islands girls were carefully kept in retirement before marriage and the custom of a virginity test is reported.

The wooing value of fragrance, like the flower names of the women in the story, marks the love story, especially one which originally took shape, as it is said, in the mind of a composer from the Kauiki end of Maui where the girl Springing-up-in-fragrance was born to Haumea. The virgin period of the chiefess of Paliuli is thus surrounded by fragrance. In Tahiti an inauguration of the national marae is described at which "first born young virgins of the royal family of the kingdom represented their respective district" garlanded with fragrant single gardenia blossoms (tiere) as a sign of virginity. Brown says that in the Andaman islands a girl is, at coming of age, given the name of the odoriferous flower in blossom when she reaches puberty. This name she uses until after the birth of her first child. In Tonga, flower names are given as nicknames to lovers. Love songs are called songs of sweet-smelling flowers, just as wooing is represented under the image of "hunting the pigeon" or "fishing." In Hawaii, where the "fishing" symbol is common, a stick of sweet-smelling wood is used as a lure in actual fishing. Association of fragrance with marriage occurs in the Kaulu story where the voyager takes a handsome wife named Kekele, a "quiet" woman whose favorite plants are the fragrant hala and maile vine, the ‘ie‘ie and other aromatic plants. Marquesans say that fragrant plants were first brought to Nukuhiva enclosed in a gourd to attract a husband for the sweet-scented girl Tahia-noho-uu of Hivaoa. In a Tonga story a chief's rock crowned with sweet-scented plants is floated away to Hina's sleeping house by her wooer, and there are innumerable references to scented plants in wooing stories throughout Polynesia.

The house thatched with bird feathers as an exaggerated symbol of the rank of its owner occurs also in Samoa in the house thatched with red feathers which the rats build for Alo, son of a rat-headed woman, and his wife Meto. 

The Halaaniani episode of the displaced suitor has a Tonga parallel in the story of Vaenuku who wins the love of the beauty of Tongatabu, daughter of the Tui Tonga:

He follows her to the bathing pool and she sees his golden hair and the dove tattooed on his back and arranges to flee with him. His rival overhears and in the darkness of night takes the place of Vaenuku and carries off the lady. At the marriage ceremony, although the trickster is given the lady, to Vaenuku is given the "virgin mat" because it is he who had won her consent. 

The terms of Aiwohikupua's punishment are strictly in accordance with Polynesian custom. Mariner tells of such an occurrence in Tonga. When the case comes up of a chief who has revolted, the "king" is represented as saying that

it was not the custom at Tonga to kill those of whom one has no reason to be afraid, and that he did not think it worth his while to destroy a mere butterfly. . . . He then desired the culprit to consider himself for the future as divested of all power and rank--no longer to be the commander of men, but a single and unprotected individual; that his chiefship from that moment was null; and that consequently, he was never more to take his seat as a chief, at the cava ceremonies.

The result of the sentence was that, although his actual rank could not be taken from him, he was thereafter ignored by everyone. 

The idea that the sex of a child may be determined before birth depends upon the belief that the wish of the child is active within the mother while still unborn. In the Andaman islands the sex is determined by the side of the mother on which the child is felt, a male on the left because men hold the bow with the left hand, a female on the right because the woman uses her right for the net. 

The closest parallels to the incident of the rescued twins at the opening of the Laieikawai story come from outside the Polynesian area. The common custom of infanticide, as described by Ellis, often had in a chief's family, especially if the mother was of higher rank than her husband, some bearing upon rank and was not a merely arbitrary matter. 

Philippines. Long ago the Sun had to leave the Moon to go to another town. He knew that his wife, the Moon, was expecting the birth of a child and before going away he said to her, "When your baby is born, if it is a boy, keep it; if a girl, kill it." The Moon hid the baby girl but later the Sun found it and cut it into pieces and made the stars. 

Bantu. A father decrees the death of girl babies. A girl hidden away beside a pool changes into a bird. 

In the romance of Ka-ili-lau-o-ke-koa (With skin like the leaf of the koa tree), a betrothed chiefess at the seacoast escapes from her guards to seek a stranger hidden away in a tapu house in the uplands, who woos her with a musical instrument new to her and with a song. Her indignant family seize the lover and would have starved him to death but for a friendly younger brother of the chiefess who feeds him secretly until his high rank is made known. His rival, defended by the owl god and a mo‘o kupua, attempts to kill him, but his wife saves his life with her throwing stick and Pele with her lightnings routs the foe.


(a) Dickey version. Ka-ili-lau-o-ke-koa is the granddaughter of Moikeha and Ho‘oipo-i-ka-malanai, high chiefs of Kauai, and daughter of La‘a. At her home by the sea at Kapa‘a she rides the curving surf of Makaiwa and develops skill in the game of konane. Twice she defeats a handsome stranger named Heakekoa from Molokai. She is betrothed by her father to Keli‘ikoa from Kona district. Far up the Wailua river at Pihana-ka-lani in a house woven of flowering lehua branches and bird feathers, with birds as his companions, lives Kauakahi-ali‘i, the adopted son of the sorceress Waha, with his sister Ka-hale-lehua (House of lehua). He invents the nose-flute (ohe), the sound of whose magic notes attracts the attention of the chiefess by the sea. Stealing out of the house at night with her attendant and a little white dog, she climbs the ridge called Kua-mo‘o-loa-a-Kane (Long lizard-back of Kane), is beaten back by rain and mist sent by his sister, and presents herself at the home of her wooer. Here she finds a garden of plenty and a well-stocked fish-pond, is hospitably received, and becomes his wife. Twice a band of fighting men attempt to storm her retreat but are driven back by rain and mist. Finally the parents accept the match and send gifts and an invitation to visit them at the seacoast, whereupon the two appear splendidly dressed in feather mantles and attended by birds.

Keli‘ikoa, however, plots to kill his rival. He lures him to a lonely place and would have made an end of him had not his wife followed, hit his enemy with a stone, and carried home her wounded husband. The angry rival engages as his ally Pi‘ikalalau, the mo‘o kupua who lives on the summit of an inaccessible cliff and can take the form of a mo‘o or of a gigantic man with hog-like tusks. Again the wife rescues her husband by entangling the kupua with her throwing stick. Pele comes to the aid of Kauakahi with her lightnings, the owl to that of Pi‘i. There is a great battle of aumakua which ends with the defeat of Pi‘i, who escapes up the perpendicular cliff in mo‘o form.

Kauakahi next goes to visit all the other islands in order to see whether there is another girl who can match his wife in beauty. None pleases him until he comes to Hawaii, where he makes an appointment with Laieikawai. The island of Kanehuna-moku appears off Wailua and he embarks upon it and does not return. Keli‘ikoa makes another effort against La‘a, but is again defeated by means of the throwing stick. At La‘a's death Ka-ili-lau-o-ke-koa becomes ruler over Kauai and Ni‘ihau.

In the Thrum, Rice, and Green versions the episode of the rival suitor does not appear and the story follows that of the Dickey version up to the reception at Kauakahi's house. From here on some variations occur.

(b) Thrum version. . . . At Kauakahi's house an identification test is presented in the form of a handsome stranger whom the girl successfully avoids for the true lover whose song she has followed. The girl's family carry the chiefess home and take her lover prisoner and shut him up without food or drink, where he would have starved had not a young brother of the chiefess named Kekalukalu-o-ke-wa cared for him secretly, until his rank is established and the kahunas give consent to the marriage. The couple rule over Puna district of Kauai. The brother becomes the young chief's favorite. At the point of death, he bequeaths to him the wooing flute and advises him to seek Laieikawai as his wife.

(c) Green version. . . . When the girl comes to seek her wooer, Kauakahi's sister, a sorceress who can take the form of a lehua tree or of a woman, conceals him for three months in the boughs of her tree form. At the marriage, signs in the heavens appear such as belong to the marriage of high chiefs. After a few months Ka-ili-lau-o-ke-koa falls into a magic sleep and is believed dead. Kauakahiali‘i has two magic pipes called Kanikawi and Kanikawa. The latter he leaves with the body of his wife and with the other travels about the islands to find a girl similar in beauty. A meeting is arranged with Laieikawai, but just as she enters the chief's house the restored chiefess appears and pipes the magic song with which he has once lured her to him.

(d) Westervelt version. Many years after Pele's exile from Kauai, two high chiefs of that island quarrel. Koa is filled with hatred for Kau and engages the mo‘o kupua Pi‘i-ka-lalau dwelling on the precipice Lalau to seize Kau. Pi‘i in his human form is twelve feet in height with eyes as big as a man's fist and great tusks. Kau is lured far from home and attacked by this giant. His warriors flee but his wife throws her pikoi snare and Kau escapes, wounded. Pele now joins the fight in Kau's behalf and Pueo (Owl) in Pi‘i's defence. Pi‘i is defeated and, changing into mo‘o form, he escapes up the precipice. Koa is later slain in battle.

(e) Haleole version (in Laieikawai). Kauakahi's wife Ka-ilio-ka-lau-o-ke-koa falls into a magic sleep and he believes her dead. He travels about the islands to find another wife equally beautiful. Laieikawai of Paliuli, who dwells among the birds, at last measures up to the pattern and he has arranged a meeting with her, to be heralded by the notes of forest birds, when his wife awakes and appears in the house just as Laie stands on the threshold. [The story concludes as in Thrum's version.]

(f) Malo and Dickey (2) versions. Kauakahi lives at Pihana-ka-lani near the source of the north fork of the Wailua river in a beautiful house filled with birds arranged in four tiers, one above the other. One day he sees a water deity in the form of a woman combing her hair on a rock by the ocean and falls in love with her. He carves her likeness from memory and hides behind it, making gestures and speaking in so lifelike a way that the goddess comes out of the water and approaches the image, when he presents himself and persuades her to come to the mountains with him, and to be his wife. Her name is Uli-poai-o-ka-moku; the image he carves he names Ono‘ilele. Arrived at his home at Pihana he transforms himself into an image like many others and obliges his bride to pick him out correctly, Kahihikolo, an old female relative, having shown her the room where he is to be found.

Warned by his friend, the god Kilioe at Haena, never to part from this image of himself lest his wife drag him after her into the water and he be drowned, he manages to substitute the image for himself when she plunges with him into the Wailua river, and his bird guardians carry him back to Pihana. 

The story is composed of three parts: first, the wooing of the girl by a high tapu chief; second, the fight with a rival suitor; third the infidelity of the husband, in some versions softened by the belief that the wife is dead. All three motives occur in the closely related story of Laieikawai. There is a male counterpart of the ladylove isolated in a tapu house and dwelling among birds. The anger of the parents until the wooer's rank is proved is worked out in the Laieikawai in the form of an actual affair with an unworthy suitor, atoned for by marriage with a high tapu chief from the heavens. The chief Koa takes the place of the militant Aiwohikupua in the Laie romance. The episode of the konane match occurs in both romances without motivating influence upon the central love story. Both composers evidently had in mind some common traditional source in representing the Kauai chief Kauakahi as one of the wooers of the beauty of Puna, an episode which occurs as a mere inthrust in the case of both romances. The popular songs connected with each romance--that which describes Laieikawai seated on the wings of birds in Paliuli, with its characteristic closing jibe for the scandal connected with her name, and the charming wooing song in the Kaili romance with its refrain: "O Kaili! Kaili! with skin like the leaf of the koa tree!" to words improvised by each reciter--were still to be heard some thirty years ago sung by old men who had belonged to the group about the king's court in the days when such song making was practised. Kauakahi's pipe song resembles the wooing song with which, in Marquesan story, Tana-oa, disguised as a little scab-covered fellow, woos the beauty of Fatu-uku who has resisted all other suitors:

O Meto, O Meto!
Like a crimson ray, O Meto!
Shining like a whale's tooth, O Meto! 

A famous Maori story uses the unfamiliar music of the pipe to gain a sweetheart in a somewhat similar fashion to that employed by Kauakahi.

Tu-kane-kai lives on the island of Mokoia. He builds a platform on the slope of the hill and at night he and his friend Tiki go up there and play instruments, he the horn, Tiki the pipe. The sounds are borne to Rotorua and across the lake to the beautiful Hine-moa. She swims across the lake and hides in his bathing pool. A prominent rock on the southwest end of the Horohoro mountain at Rotorua is called by her name. 

Such a traditional wooing story seems to be the core of the romance of Kaililauokekoa. Different reciters wove into it incidents, out of a traditional stock of story material, which compare more closely with related romances. The departure of Kauakahi on the floating land of Kane-huna-moku and the identification test in the mermaid version resemble the Anaelike romance. The manner of the lure in this mermaid version corresponds with the device used by Konikonia to lure the underseas woman to his home. The skill of the wife with the throwing stick suggests another Kauai hero, Kawelo, and his warrior wife. In the Pikoi-a-ka-alala story Kauakahi is the friend who smuggled Pikoi over to Hawaii and Pikoi is, in the fullest version of the bird-shooting ad-venture, a native of Kauai. Heakekoa, whom the chiefess defeats in a konane match, is the name of the lover of Lono-ika-makahiki's wife Kaikilani, and it is his song from the hills while the husband and wife are playing konane that brings about the quarrel between the two and subsequent war between Lono and the chiefs of Ka-iki's family on Hawaii. It is the sound of the hula pipe also which lures Pele to her lover Lohiau on Kauai. A jealous sister in some versions impedes Hi‘iaka's search. On the other hand, relatives place difficulties in the way of the goddess taking a mere mortal as husband. Here the Pele figure is seen once more drawn into relation with popular romance.

It is now possible to affirm that a dominating theme which runs through all Hawaiian romantic fiction and is used to motivate much of its action is the power of music to attract and of chanted song to awaken love. Equally dominant is sweet scent, so strongly associated with a former loved one or stirring the senses with its novelty. Both these elements attained formalized expression in the development of the hula dance, heightened emotionally by the religious setting which surrounded it. Nor are the movements of the dance in their old form to be interpreted as purely erotic imitations of the orgasms of love. Their appeal was often, as represented in these romances, to the imagination of the wanderer from home or of one estranged from friend or lover in recalling scenes of natural beauty which belonged to the old association and arousing in him love and longing. In the swaying movements of the dancers, their gestures of hand or fingertip, the onlooker saw, through the conventionalized symbol, the waving motion of leaves, the rise of a cliff side, the fall of water, the patter of rain, the movement of clouds across the sky. His senses were meanwhile filled with scent and sound, urging him to reawakened love for the scene itself or for the beloved friend or lover with whom it had been shared.

Romantic story-telling makes use of similar devices. Its great motivating force, like that of the related hula dance, is the background furnished by actual contact with the conflict between the fertility of the damp wild forest which furnished food to the early peoples and the fiery destruction wrought by volcanic outbursts. Both forces were apotheosized in the conception of a single goddess in her productive and in her wrathful manifestation as Laka or as Pele-i-ke-ahi. The loves and adventures of the Pele family, wrought as they were into religious rites and offerings, danced to with song and woven into wreaths of sweet-smelling plants, played an important part in shaping the treatment of love themes already traditional in memory or learned during the years of intercourse with southern groups. The more modern treatment of the story does not conceal the figures of those nature deities from whom the composer, through long convention, drew his pattern. The type remains, although the gods reveal themselves in the lives and loves of mortals.




Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com


1. Coming of the Gods
2. Ku Gods
3. The God Lono
4. The Kane Worship
5. Kane and Kanaloa
6. Mythical Lands of the Gods
7. Lesser Gods
8. Sorcery Gods
9. Guardian Gods
10. The Soul after Death
11. The Pele Myth
12. The Pele Sisters
13. Pele Legends

14. Kamapua`a
15. Hina Myths
16. Maui The Trickster
17. Aikanaka-Kaha`iI
18. Wahieloa-Laka
19.  Haumea
20. Papa and Wakea
21. Genealogies
22. Era of Overturning
23. Mu and Menehune
24. Runners, Man-Eaters, Dog Men
25. Moikeha-la`a Migration
26. Hawaiiloa and Paao
27. Ruling Chiefs
28. Usurping Chiefs
29. Kapua Stories
30. Trickster Stories
31. Voyage to the Land of the Gods
32. Riddling Contests
33. The Kana Legends
34. The Stretching-Tree Kupua
35. Romance of the Swimmer
36. Romance of the Island of Virgins
37. Romances of Match-Making
38. Romances of the Dance
39. Wooing Romances
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