Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dreaming of Naked People and Dugout Canoes

A bad omen

In The Hawaiian Canoe, author Tommy Holmes describes how the kahuna, or canoe-building master, identified a good tree from which to build a boat:

"Upon finding what appeared to be a suitable tree, the presiding kahuna ...either retired to his (family shrine) or slept right at the base of the tree to learn in dreams from his deity, or aumakua, as to the suitableness of the tree in question. If there appeared to him in his dream a man or a woman standing naked before him without malo or pau [items of clothing], screening himself or herself from shame with the hand, then he would he would interpret the dream as meaning that the timber of the tree was puha, unsound, and he must look farther."

If he dreamed they were clothed, the tree was OK.

Another method was to watch the activities of an 'elapaio in the grove of koa trees before choosing one. These little birds would light, or not, on a tree, and peck, or not, at insects. Apparently, if they pecked, that implied that there were insects in the trunk and hence, evidence of unsound wood. Even after the tree was felled, the 'elapaio was observed, and his guidance followed in determining which side of the log to hollow out and while to use as the outside of the hull. Apparently, the kahuna might have to wait around for a long time -- even several days -- before the 'elapaio gave the desired indications.

A good omen (an 'elapaio)

1 comment:

  1. Hawaiians were so intimate with Mother Nature. I'll take a ti leaf over aluminum foil anyday.