I visited Mairikini Heiau…

Accompanied by some natives, on July 8th, 1823 I visited Mairikini heiau. It was nearly equal in its dimensions to that on the summit of the hill, but inferior in every other respect. It appeared to have been literally crowded with idols, but no human sacrifices were offered to any of its gods. On returning to Mr. Young’s house, I was informed that the vessel would sail that evening for Kailua, a circumstance I much regretted, as I hoped to spend the Sabbath at Kawaihae. Mr. Young, however, collected his family and neighbors together, to the number of sixty. A short exhortation was given, and followed by prayer; after which I took leave of my kind host, repaired on board, and the vessel soon after got under way. It was daylight the next morning before we had left Kawaihae bay, as the wind during the night had been very light. The sea breeze had, however, set in early, and carried us along a rugged and barren shore of lava towards Kailua, which is distant from Kawaihae about thirty miles. It being the Sabbath, I preached on deck in the afternoon from Mark iv. 38, 39. to a congregation of about 150 natives, including the greater part of the crew. Many of the people were afterwards observed sitting together in small groups, and conversing about what they had heard, though some were inclined to make sport of it. In the evening we were opposite Shark’s Point, but strong westerly currents prevented our making much progress. (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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A Visited to Pu’ukohola heiau…

At 6 A. M. on July 8th, 1823 I visited the large heiau or temple called Pu’ukohola. It stands on an eminence in the southern part of the district, and was built by Kamehameha about thirty years ago, when he was engaged in conquering Hawaii, and the rest of the Sandwich Islands. He had subdued Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, and was preparing, from the latter, to invade Oahu, but in consequence of a rebellion in the south and east parts of Hawaii, was obliged to return thither. When he had overcome those who had rebelled, he finished the heiau, dedicated it to Ku his god of war, and then proceeded to the conquest of Oahu. Its shape is an irregular parallelogram, 224 feet long, and 100 wide. The entrance to the temple is by a narrow passage between two high walls. As I passed along this avenue, an involuntary shuddering seized me, on reflecting how often it had been trodden by the feet of those who relentlessly bore the murdered body of the human victim an offering to their cruel idols. The upper terrace within the area was spacious, and much better finished than the lower ones. It was paved with various flat smooth stones, brought from a considerable distance. At the south end was a kind of inner court, which might be called the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, where the principal idol used to stand, surrounded by a number of images of inferior deities. In the centre of this inner court was the place where the anu was erected, which was a lofty frame of wickerwork, in shape something like an obelisk, hollow, and four or five feet square at the bottom. Within this the priest stood, as the organ of communication from the god, whenever the king came to inquire his will; for his principal god was also his oracle, and when it was to be consulted, the king, accompanied by two or three attendants, proceeded to the door of the inner temple, and standing immediately before the obelisk, inquired respecting the declaration of war, the conclusion of peace, or any other affair of importance. The answer was given by the priest in a distinct and audible voice, though, like that of other oracles, it was frequently very ambiguous. On the return of the king, the answer he had received was publicly proclaimed, and generally acted upon. On the outside, near the entrance to the inner court, was the place of the altar, on which human and other sacrifices were offered. The remains of one of the pillars that supported it were pointed out by the natives, and the pavement around was strewed with bones of men and animals, the moldering remains of those numerous offerings once presented there. About the centre of the terrace was the spot where the king’s sacred house stood, in which he resided during the season of strict taboo, and at the north end, the place occupied by the houses of priests, who, with the exception of the king, were the only persons permitted to dwell within the sacred enclosure. Holes were seen on the walls, all around this, as well as the lower terraces, where wooden idols of varied size and shape formerly stood, casting their hideous stare in every direction. Ku, or Kuka’ilimoku, a large wooden idol, crowned with a helmet, and covered with red feathers, the favorite war-god of Kamehameha, was the principal idol. To him the heiau was dedicated, and for his occasional residence it was built. On the day in which he was brought within its precincts, vast offerings of fruit, hogs, and dogs, were presented, and no less than eleven human victims immolated on its altars. And, although the huge pile now resembles a dismantled fortress, whose frown no longer strikes terror through the surrounding country, yet it is impossible to walk over such a Golgotha, or contemplate a spot which must often have resembled a pandemonium more than anything on earth, without a strong feeling of horror at the recollection of the bloody and infernal rites so frequently practiced within its walls. (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.)

I Voyage Back to Hawaii…

About two o’clock in the afternoon of July 8th, 1823, the Ainoa hove up her anchor. I went on board in a canoe just as she was leaving the roads. The brig being about ninety tons burden, one of the largest the natives have, was, as has been already observed, much crowded, and, owing to the difference between the motion of the vessel and that experienced in their small canoes, many of the natives soon became sea-sick. It was calm through the night, but the wind blew fresh in the morning from N. N. E. and continued until noon, when, being under the lee of the high land of Kohala, one of the large divisions of Hawaii, we were becalmed. At four o’clock P. M. a light air sprung up from the southward, and carried us slowly on towards Kawaihae, a district in the division of Kohala, about four miles long, containing a spacious bay, and good anchorage. The vessel stood in towards the north side of the bay, leaving a large heiau, (heathen temple,) situated on the brow of a hill, to the southward, and heading directly for a deep gully, or water-course, called Honokoa, opposite the mouth of which, about 7 P. M. she came to anchor, in 10 fathoms, with a good bottom. The north side of the bay affords much the best anchorage for shipping, especially for those that wish to lie near the shore. It is the best holding ground, and is also screened by the high land of Kohala from those sudden and violent gusts of wind, called by the natives mumuku, which come down between the mountains with almost irresistible fury, on the southern part of Kawaihae, and the adjacent districts. (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.)

A Bonding of Islands…

Before I left the party, I could not help stating to them the striking identity between some of their traditions and those of the Tahitians; and expressed my conviction that both nations had the same origin. They said, tradition informed them that their progenitors were brought into existence on the islands which they now inhabit; that they knew nothing of the origin of the people of the Georgian and Society Islands, yet Tahiti, the name of the largest of the Georgian Islands, was found in many of their ancient songs, though not now applied exclusively to that island. With the people of Bora Bora, (the name they gave to the Society Islands,) they said they had no acquaintance before they were visited by Captain Cook, but that since that time, by means of ships passing from one group of islands to the other, several presents and messages of friendship had been interchanged between Kamehameha and Pomare I., and that, in order to cement their friendship more firmly, each had agreed to give one of his daughters in marriage to the son of the other. In consequence of this amicable arrangement, a daughter of Pomare was expected from Tahiti, to be the wife of Liholiho, late king of Hawaii; and Kekauruohe, one of the daughters of Kamehameha, was selected by her father to be the bride of Pomare, the late king of Tahiti. Wanting a conveyance from Hawaii to Tahiti, Kamehameha was unable to send Kekauruohe; which, together with the death of Pomare before he had any opportunity of sending one of his relatives to Hawaii, prevented the intended intermarriages between the reigning families of Hawaii and Tahiti. (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.)

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.)

A Poisonous Wood…

 

They had a number of sea gods, besides those whom they imagined directed the shoals of fishes to their shores. They had also gods who controlled the winds and changed the weather. During a storm, or other season of danger at sea, they offered up their paro, or pulekurana, a particular kind of prayer; but it is not known to what idol they addressed it. On these occasions, their dread of perishing at sea frequently led them to make vows to some favorite deity; and if they ever reached the land, it was their first business to repair to the temple, and fulfil their vows. These vows were generally considered most sacred engagements; and it was expected that, sooner or later, some judgment would overtake those who failed to perform them. It is not improbable, that the priests of those idols, in order to maintain their influence over the people, either poisoned the delinquents, or caused them to sustain some other injury. Karaipahoa was also a famous idol, originally belonging to Molokai. It was a middling-sized wooden image, curiously carved; the arms were extended, the fingers spread out, the head was ornamented with human hair, and the widely distended mouth was armed with rows of shark’s teeth. The wood of which the image was made was so poisonous, that if a small piece of it was chipped into a dish of poi, or steeped in water, whoever ate the poi, or drank the water, the natives reported, would certainly die in less than twenty-four hours afterwards. We were never able to procure a sight of this image, though we have been repeatedly informed that it still exists, not indeed in one compact image, as it was divided in several parts on the death of Kamehameha, and distributed among the principal chiefs. It is a known fact, that the natives use several kinds of vegetable poison; and probably the wood of which the idol was made is poisonous. But the report of the virulence of the poison is most likely one of the many stratagems so frequently employed by the chiefs and priests, to maintain their influence over the minds of the people. A smaller image of the same god was formed of a hard yellow wood, of which idols were usually made. This was left at Molokai, the original being always carried about by Kamehameha, and, it is said, placed under his pillow whenever he slept. (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.)

We Learn The Traditions of the Idols of adjacent Islands…

Tiha, a female idol, they said was also held in great veneration by the people of Maui, and received nearly the same homage and offerings as Keoroeva. The people of Lanai, an adjacent island, had a number of idols, but those best known by the chiefs with whom I was conversing, were Raeapua and Kameapua, two large carved stone images, representing the deities supposed to preside over the sea, and worshipped chiefly by fishermen. Mooarii, (king of lizards or alligators,) a shark, was also a celebrated marine god, worshipped by the inhabitants of Molokai, another island in the neighborhood. The chiefs informed me, that on almost every point of land projecting any distance into the sea, a temple was formerly erected for his worship. Several kinds of fish arrive in shoals on their coast, every year, in their respective seasons. The first fish of each kind, taken by the fishermen, were always carried to the heiau, and offered to their god, whose influence they imagined had driven them to their shores. In some remote period, perhaps, they had observed the sharks chasing or devouring these fish, as they passed along among their islands, and from this circumstance had been led to deify the monster, supposing themselves indebted to him for the bountiful supplies thus furnished by a gracious Providence. (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.)