The Legend of Karaipahoa…

The following is the tradition given by the natives of the original idol. In the reign of Kumaraua, an ancient king of Molokai, lived Kaneakama, a great gambler. Playing one day at maita, (a Hawaiian game,) he lost all that he possessed, except one pig, which, having dedicated to his god, he durst not stake on his game. In the evening he returned home, laid down on his mat, and fell asleep. His god appeared to him in a dream, and directed him to go and play again, on the following day, and stake this pig on his success in a particular part of the play. He awoke in the morning, did as the god had directed, and was remarkably successful through the day. Before he returned home in the evening, he went to the temple of his idol, and there dedicated the greater part of his gain. During his sleep that night the god appeared to him again, and requested him to go to the king, and tell him, that a clump of trees would be seen growing in a certain place in the morning; and that if he would have a god made out of one of them, he would reside in the image, and impart to it his power, signifying also, that Kaneakama should be his priest. Early the next morning, the man who had received the communication from his god went and delivered it to the king, by whom he was directed to take a number of men, and cut down one of the trees, and carve it into an image. As they approached Karua koi, a small valley on the side of one of the mountains in Molokai, they were surprised at beholding a clump of trees, where there had been none before, the gods having caused them to grow up in the course of the preceding night. Into these trees, Kane, and some other gods, are reported to have entered. When they arrived at the spot, the gods, by some sign, directed Kaneakama which tree to cut down. They began to work with their short-handled stone hatchets; but the chips flying on the bodies of one or two of them, they instantly expired. Terrified at the dreadful power of the wood, the others threw down their hatchets, and refused to fell the tree; being urged by Kaneakama, they resumed their work; not, however, till they covered their bodies and faces with native cloth, and the leaves of the ti plant, leaving only a small aperture opposite one of their eyes. Instead of their hatchets, they took their long daggers, or pahoas, with which they cut down the tree, and carved out the image. From this circumstance, the natives say, the idol derived its name, Karai-pahoa, which is literally, dagger cut or carved; from karai, to chip with an adze, or carve, and pahoa, a dagger. Excepting the deities supposed to preside over volcanoes, no god was so much dreaded by the people as Karaipahoa. All who were thought to have died by poison, were said to have been slain by him. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

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