Ancient Hawaiian Villages

20 12 2015

A traditional village of ancient Hawaiʻi included several structures. Listed in order of importance:

Heiau, temple to the gods, built on high-rising stone terraces. Sometimes adorned with wood and stone carved idols. A source of great mana or divine power, the heiau was restricted to aliʻi, the king and kahuna.

Kealakekua Bay Heiau

Hale aliʻi, the house of the chief. It was used as a residence for the high chief and meeting house of the lesser chiefs. It was always built on a raised stone foundation to represent high social standing. Kahili, or feather standards, were placed outside to signify royalty. Women and children were banned from entering.

Hale pahu, the house of the sacred hula instruments. It held the pahu drums. It was treated as a religious space as hula was a religious activity in honor of the goddess Laka.

Hale papaʻa, the house of royal storage. It was built to store royal implements including fabrics, prized nets and lines, clubs, spears and other weapons.

Hale ulana, the house of the weaver. It was the house where craftswomen would gather each day to manufacture the village baskets, fans, mats and other implements from dried pandanus leaves called lauhala.

Hale mua, the men’s eating house. It was considered a sacred place because it was used to carve stone idols of ʻaumakua or ancestral gods. Men and women could not eat with each other for fear that men were vulnerable while eating to have their mana, or divine spirit, stolen by women. Women ate at their own separate eating house called the hale ʻaina.

Hale waʻa, the house of the canoe. It was built along the beaches as a shelter for their fishing vessels. Hawaiians also stored koa or mahogany logs used to craft the canoes.

Hale lawaiʻa, the house of fishing. It was built along the beaches as a shelter for their fishing nets and lines. Nets and lines were made by a tough rope fashioned from woven coconut husks. Fish hooks were made of human, pig or dog bone. Implements found in the hale lawaiʻa were some of the most prized possessions of the entire village.

Hale noho, the living house. It was built as sleeping and living quarters for the Hawaiian family unit.

Imu, the communal earth oven. Dug in the ground, it was used to cook the entire village’s food including puaʻa or pork. Only men cooked using the imu.

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