Thursday, July 1, 2010

Three Amigos


Welcome to the REAL Hawaii!

"The undertaking of a new action brings new strength."

Richard L. Evans

Ku Image at Honolulu's Bishop Museum.
Note the Kapa fabric loincloth.
This is the traditional way to display these images;
they are anatomically correct.
link HERE

“Ola Nā Iwi” – The bones live

Said of a respected oldster who is well cared for by his family.
(Collected by Pūku'i, #2488)

Has it really been more than 150 years since anyone has seen such a sight?

This may be the famous trio of the Ahu`ena Heiau (temple) of
North Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii
that William Ellis wrote of in the 19th Century:

"-the idols are all destroyed,
excepting three which are planted on the wall
(of the temple, a Kamehameha fort in Ellis' day)
one at each end,
and the other in the center,
where they stand like sentinels
amidst the guns
as if designed by their frightful appearance
to terrify and enemy."

Terrifying? Well why not?
For they are 800 pound (lb) holy images of KU,
Hawaiian god of war, fishing, family, leadership, procreation.
KU represents the male element.

These three,
the largest KU images remaining in the world,
stand together today in Hawaii Hall
at our esteemed Bishop Museum
where they will remain till October 4th
when two will make their journeys of return,
one to the British Museum,
the other to the Peabody Essex Museum in Peabody Mass.

Extraordinary enough that wooden images should survive this long,
but more so when you consider the 1819 cultural revolution
in Hawaii, when the KAPU System,
the complex web of spiritual rules governing EVERY aspect of conduct,
was overthrown by order of Kamehameha II (Liholiho)
when he very deliberately sat down to eat
with his chiefesses in public.

All such images were summarily destroyed by royal edict.

Then, in an amazing historic synchronicity,
the Christian Missionaries arrived HERE,
bringing a new religion,
in 1820.

The few remaining images left the islands as curiosities,
though it is conjectured the the British Museum Ku
(acquired 1839) was originally taken to England by Kamehameha II.

The Bishop's Ku was returned to Hawaii in 1895 as a gift/loan
from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

The Peabody's has been there since 1846.

The Exhibition's title:
E Ku Ana Ku Paia:
Unification, Responsibility, and the Ku Images
speaks of the condition of the indigenous Hawaiian community
in this 200th year since the unification of the islands into one kingdom.

It is taken from an old prophesy chant,
meaning literally:

The Walls Will stand Firm

Which echoes Isaiah 58:12

"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

"It embodies the rebuilding of a foundation of a nation,
says Noelle Kahanu, Bishop Museum Project Manager.
"We are in a transitional phase as a community,
of what we were
and what we will become.
It is part of manifesting what we envision."

"Our Ku image is one of our most precious objects.
That two other Ku even exist in the world
is very impressive and special.
And to get them all together is mind boggling."
says DeSoto Brown, the Bishop's Library and Archives Collection Manager.

Cultural leaders locally
decided by poll
that it such a reunification was eminently worthwhile,
even if the two "foreign" Ku must leave again.

Thank YOU for visiting!

Be sure to leave an "aloha" in comments
and make my day :)

Bishop Museum site HERE
Maui News HERE