The Methods of consulting the Gods Using Human Sacrifices Before Determining War…

Whenever war was in contemplation, the poè kiro (diviners and priests) were directed to slay the accustomed victims, and consult the gods. If the expedition in contemplation was of any magnitude Ör importance, or the danger which threatened imminent, human sacrifices were offered, to ensure the co-operation of the war-gods in the destruction of their enemies. They do not appear to have imagined these gods exerted any protecting influence over their devotees, but that their presence and their power destroyed the courage and strength of their enemies, and filled their hearts with terror and dismay. Sometimes the priests proposed that human victims should be slain; sometimes the gods themselves were said to require them, to promise victory on condition of their being offered, and at other times they were slain after having consulted the gods as their oracle, and not having received a favourable answer, they were desirous to consult them again before they abandoned the enterprise. If any of their enemies had been taken captive, the victims were selected from among their number; if not, individuals who had broken tabu, or rendered themselves obnoxious to the chiefs, were fixed upon. A message was sent to the chief under whose authority they were, and at the appointed time he sent his men, who generally despatched them with a stone or club, without any notice, and then carried them away to the temple; sometimes they were bound and taken alive to the heiau, and slain in the outer court, immediately before being placed on the altar. It does not appear that they were slain in the idol’s presence, or within the temple, but either on the outside or at the place where they were first taken; in both cases they appear to have endeavoured to preserve the body entire, or mangled as little as possible. The victims were generally despatched by a blow on the head with a club or stone; sometimes, however, they were stabbed. The number offered at a time varied according to circumstances, two, four, or seven, or ten, or even twenty, we have been informed, have been offered at once. When carried into the temple, every article of clothing they might have on was taken off, and they were laid in a row with their faces downwards, on the altar immediately before the idol. The priest then, in a kind of prayer, offered them to the gods; and if any offerings of hogs were presented at the same time, they were afterwards piled upon them, lying at right angles across the human bodies, where the whole were left to rot and putresy together. War was seldom declared without the approbation of the gods, obtained through the medium of the priests, though it is probable the answer of the diviners was given with due regard to the previously known views of the king and chiefs. (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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Exercises Consisted in Warlike Games…

Before the introduction of fire-arms and gunpowder, almost all the men were taught to use the various weapons employed in battle, and frequently engaged in martial exercises or warlike games. One of the exercises consisted in slinging stones at a mark. They threw their stones with great force and precision, and are supposed to have been able to strike a small stick at fifty yards’ distance, four times out of five. They also practised throwing the javelin, and catching and returning those thrown at them, or warding them off so as to avoid receiving any injury. In this latter exercise, they excelled to an astonishing degree. We know some men who have stood and allowed six men to throw their javelins at them, which they would either catch, and return on their assailants, or so dexterously turn aside, that they fell harmless to the ground. Wrestling was also practised by the more athletic youth, as a preparation to the single combats usual in almost every battle. Sometimes they had sham fights, when large numbers engaged, and each party advanced and retreated, attacked and defended, and exercised all the manoeuvres employed in actual engagement. Admirably constituted by nature with fine-formed bodies, supple joints, strong and active limbs, accustomed also to a light and cumberless dress, they took great delight in these gymnastic and warlike exercises, and in the practice of them spent no inconsiderable portion of their time. (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 Former Prevalence of War in the Sandwich Islands…

The Sandwich Islands, like many other parts of the world, have frequently felt the cruel scourge of war. Their traditionary history, so far as we have been able to trace it, is distinguished by nothing so much as accounts of the murderous and plundering expeditions of one island against another, or the sanguinary battles between the inhabitants of different parts of the same island. The whole group have seldom, if ever, been united under one authority; but, in general, separate governments, and independent kings or chiefs, have existed in each of the large islands; and sometimes the six great divisions of Hawaii have been under as many distinct rulers or chieftains. Their inclinations or interests often interfered, and almost every dispute terminated in an appeal to arms. Indeed, a pretext for war was seldom wanting, when one party thought themselves sufficiently powerful to invade with success the territories of their neighbours, and plunder their property. Their modes of warfare must, therefore, necessarily exhibit much of their national character; and having in the course of the narrative already had occasion to describe two of their battles, some account of their system of war will probably be acceptable in this place. Their armies were composed of individuals from every rank in society. There was no distinct class of men trained exclusively to the use of arms, and warriors by profession, yet there have always been men celebrated for their courage and martial achievements; and there are many now living, who distinguished themselves by deeds of valour and strength in the frequent wars which were carried on during the former part of the late Tamehameha’s reign; men who left their peaceful home and employment, as agriculturalists or fishermen, to follow his fortunes in the field, and resumed their former pursuits on the cessation of hostilities. (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 Death of Kauikeouli…

Keeaumoku, (the father of Kaahumanu, Piia, and Kuakini, present governor of Hawaii,) Tamehameha’s principal general, with a few of his companions, had advanced a considerable distance beyond the main body of his warriors, and was completely surrounded by Kauikeouli’s men. After defending themselves for some time against superior numbers, all the associates of Keeaumoku were slain, he himself was dangerously wounded by a number of stabs with the pāhoa, a dagger, from eighteen inches to two feet long, made of wood or iron, and called also Kivaraao fell in the midst of his foes. His enemies thought him mortally wounded, and were proceeding to despoil him of his ornaments, Kauikeouli approached, and called out to them to take care of the paraoa, a finely polished ornament, made of a whale’s tooth, highly valued by the natives, and worn on the breast suspended by a necklace of curiously braided human hair, stooping down himself at the same time to untie it. Keeaumoku, recovering from a swoon, and seeing Kauikeouli bending over him, made a sudden spring, and grasped him round his neck, or (as some of the natives say) by his long flowing hair, and being a man of uncommon stature and strength, held him down. Kauikeouli endeavoured, but in vain, to extricate himself from his grasp. At this instant, Tamehameha and his attendants, having heard that Keeaumoku had fallen, hastened to the spot, and one of them, Narimaerua, perceiving the situation of Kauikeouli, rushed forward, and ran a spear through his body; another stabbed him with a pāhoa. He fell upon the body of Keeaumoku, and instantly expired. Keoua, his uncle, who fought near him, was about the same time wounded in the thigh by a spear, and obliged to quit the field. As soon as the death of Kauikeouli was known, a panic spread through his men, and they quickly fled in every direction. Many jumped into the sea, and swam to some canoes lying off the place, and the rest fled to the mountains or the adjoining puhonua (place of refuge) at Honaunau, about four miles distant. Among these was Karaiomoku, then a youth, now principal chief in the Sandwich Islands.  (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.)

An Account of the Battle at Mokuohai…

At nine A. M. we were joined by our companions from Kaavaroa, and shortly after set out again on our tour. Mr. Bishop went in the canoe, the rest of us walked on towards Honaunau, a considerable village about five miles distant. Leaving Keei, we passed on to Mokuohai, a spot celebrated as the place where, in the year 1780 or 1781, the great battle was fought between Kauikeouli,” eldest son and successor of Taraiopu, and his cousin, Tamehameha, by which the latter, though before only possessed of two districts, became sovereign of the whole island. This battle is considered by most of Tamehameha’s friends (who frequently allude to it in talking of him) as the foundation of all his subsequent power and greatness in the Sandwich Islands. During seven successive days, a severe conflict was maintained, with doubtful success. On the morning of the eighth day, it was renewed with augmented fury on both sides, and continued raging until noon, when the death of Kauikeouli terminated the struggle in favour of his rival. The circumstances attending his death were singular. (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 Hawaiian Notions of a Future State…

 The house in which Mr. Bishop and myself had lodged, was early crowded with natives. Morning worship was held in the native language, and a short address given to the people. A very interesting conversation ensued, on the resurrection of the dead at the last day, which had been spoken of in the address. The people said they had heard of it by Kapihe, a native priest, who formerly resided in this village, and who, in the time of Tamehameha, told that prince, that at his death he would see his ancestors, and that hereafter all the kings, chiefs, and people of Hawaii, would live again. I asked them how this would be effected, and with what circumstances it would be attended; whether they would live again on Hawaii, or in Miru, the Hades of the Sandwich Islands? They said there were two gods, who conducted the departed spirits of their chiefs to some place in the heavens, where it was supposed the spirits of kings and chiefs sometimes dwelt, and afterwards returned with them to the earth, where they accompanied the movements, and watched over the destinies, of their survivors. The name of one of these gods was Kaomohiokala, the eye-ball of the sun; and of the other, Kuahairo. Kapihe was priest to the latter, and, by pretended revelation, informed Tamehameha that when he should die, Kuahairo would take his spirit to the sky, and accompany it to the earth again, when his body would be reanimated and youthful; that he would have his wives, and resume his government in Hawaii; and that, at the same time, the existing generation would see and know their parents and ancestors, and all the people who had died would be restored to life. These, they said, were all the particulars they knew ; but added, that though at Kapihe’s suggestion many valuable offerings were made to his god, he proved a false prophet, for Tamehameha died, and did not come to life again. At eight o’clock, a small pig, nicely baked under ground, and a calabash full of potatoes, were brought in for breakfast. We were both too ill to partake of the bounty of our kind host, yet felt grateful for his attention. (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 Visit to the Spot where Captain Cook was killed…

In the morning of July the 21st, the party at Kamakau’s walked through the village of Kaavaroa” to the sea-side, The water in some places, is deep, and, along the whole, extent of the north-west shore, a boat may pull in close to the rocks, The rocks which: form: the beach on, this and the opposite side of the bay, are not, as was supposed by those who first, described: them, of black coral, but composed, entirely of lava, porous, hard, and of a very dark color, occasionally: tinged with a ferruginous brown, bearing marks of having been, in a state of fusion, Part of it has probably, flowed through the cavern in, which Captain Cook’s body, was deposited, as, traces of a stream of lava, from the nave to the plain below, are very distinct, The steep rocks at the head of the bay are of the same kind of substance, but apparently more ancient; and judging from appearances, the lava of which they are composed had issued from its volcano before Kearake’kua existed; as part of the coast seems to have been rent from these rocks, and sunk below the level of the sea, which has filled up the indention thus made, and formed the present bay. There are still a number of caves in the face of these rocks, which are seldom resorted to for security in a time of danger, but used as places of sepulture. Several were barricaded, to prevent any but the proprietors entering them, or depositing bodies there. The natives pointed out one in which the remains of Keoua, uncle of Tamehameha were laid. Having accomplished the object of their excursion, which was to procure some fragments of the rock on which Captain Cook had been killed, they prepared to return. On their return, they exchanged a piece of blue cotton, about three yards in length, for four small idols. They were rudely-carved imitations of the human figure; one of them between three and four feet in length, the others not more than eighteen inches. Having breakfasted with Kamakau and his family, they took their leave, and passed over to the other side of the bay.  (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.)