THE KANE WORSHIP
KANE was the leading god among the great gods named by the Hawaiians at the time of the arrival of the missionaries in the islands. He represented the god of procreation and was worshiped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. According to the possibly late edition of the Kumuhonua legend, he formed the three worlds: the upper heaven of the gods, the lower heaven above the earth, and the earth itself as a garden for mankind; the latter he furnished with sea creatures, plants, and animals, and fashioned man and woman to inhabit it.
An account of the creation of the world which appears in the genealogical legend of Kumuhonua, the first man fashioned by the gods, represents Kane as playing a dominant role as creator, but assisted by Ku and Lono, a trilogy called lahui akua (union of gods) or he papa Kane (Kane class) said to be worshiped under the name of Ku-kauakahi.1 The worship of Tane (Kane), Roʻo (Lono), and Tu (Ku) by the manahune in Tahiti, to whose mythology belong the Polynesian figures also of Atea (Wakea), Tiʻi (Kiʻi or Tiki), and Maui, is closely comparable with the Hawaiian Kane worship.2
LEGEND OF CREATION
(a) Fornander version (1). In the first era Kane dwells alone in continual darkness (i ka po loa); there is neither heaven nor earth. In the second era light is created and the gods Ku and Lono, with Kane, fashion the earth and the things on the earth. In the third era they create man and woman, Kumu-honua (Earth beginning) and Lalo-honua (Earth below). In the fourth era Kane, who has lived on earth with man, goes up to
1. For. Col. 6: 271.2. Henry, 398-399.
heaven to live and the man, having broken Kane’s law, is made subject to death.3
(b) Fornander version (2). The three gods Kane, Ku, Lono come out of the night (po) and create three heavens to dwell in, the uppermost for Kane, the next below for Ku, and the lowest for Lono, “a heaven for the parent (makua), a heaven for Ku, a heaven for Lono.” Next they make the earth to rest their feet upon and call it “The great earth of Kane” (Ka-honua-nui-a-Kane). Kane then makes sun, moon, and stars, and places them in the empty space between heaven and earth. He makes the ocean salt, in imitation of which the priests purify with salt water. Next an image of man is formed out of earth, the head out of white clay brought from the seas of the north, south, east, and west, the body out of red earth (apo ula) mixed with spittle (wai nao). The right side of the head is made of clay brought from the north and east, the left side is made of clay from the south and west. Man is formed after the image of Kane with Ku as the workman, Lono as general assistant. Kane and Ku spit (or breathe) into the nostrils, Lono into the mouth, and the image becomes a living being. “I have shaped this dirt (lepo); I am going to make it live,” says Kane. “Live! live!” respond Ku and Lono. The man rises and kneels. They name him Ke-liʻi-ku-honua (The chief Ku (mu)-honua) or Honua-ula because made out of “red earth.” They give him a delightful garden to live in called Kalana-i-hauola, but later Paliuli, situated in the land of Kahiki-honua-kele (The land that moved off), and fashion a wife for him out of his right side and call her Ke-ola-Ku-honua (or Lalo-hana). “Great Hawaii of the green back and mottled seas” this land is called. A law is given him but he breaks the law and is then known as Kane-laʻa-(kah) uli, “a god who fell because of the law.”4
In the original garden of Kumuhonua and Lalo-hana his wife, are to be found the pig, dogs of various varieties, moʻo of many sorts. A tapu tree, sacred apples which cause death if eaten by strangers, and tapu bark cloth forbidden to all but the
3. For. Col. 6: 335.4. Col. 6: 267, 268, 273-276.
high chiefs are spoken of. Some think that the laau (law or tree) which caused the expulsion of the pair from the garden refers to these things. The garden, which is very sacred, goes by a multiplicity of names. It is the great white albatross of Kane that drove them out of the garden (Ka Aaia-nukea-nui-a-Kane). Kumuhonua-mokupuni is the land to the eastward to which Kumuhonua retreats after he has broken the law, and he returns to Kapakapa-ua-a-Kane and is buried in a place called Kumu-honua-puʻu, which was afterwards called Ka-puʻu-poʻo-kanaka (The hill of human heads).5
(c) Kepelino version. Kane as a triad, Kane, Kana (Ku), Lono, exists alone in the deep intense night which he has created, and brings about, first light, then the heavens, then the earth and the ocean, then sun, moon, and stars.6 Kane existing alone chants,
“Here am I on the peak of day, on the peak of night.The spaces of air, the blue sky I will make, a heaven, a heaven for Ku, for Lono, a heaven for me, for Kane, three heavens, a heaven.Behold the heavens!There is the heaven, the great heaven, here am I in heaven, the heaven is mine.”
During the first five periods the heavens and earth are created and the sun, moon, and stars, and plants to clothe the earth. In the sixth period man is formed.
Kane, Ku, Lono, conceived as a single godhead, mold Kumuhonua, the first man, out of wet soil and he becomes living soil. They make him a chief to rule over the whole world and place him with his wife Lalo-honua in Ka-aina-nui-o-Kane (The great land of Kane), where they live happily until Lalo-honua meets the “Great seabird with white beak that stands fishing” (Aaia-nui-nukea-a-ku-lawaia) and is seduced to eat the sacred apples
5. For. Col. 6: 273-276.6. 14-17.
of Kane. She goes mad and becomes a seabird. The seabird carries them both away into the jungle, the trees part and make a path for them, but the trees return to their places and the path is lost, hence the name “Hidden land of Kane” for this first garden home.… Death is the penalty for Kumuhonua because he did not keep the command of the god. He gains the name Kane-laʻa-uli and is jeered at by the people as he goes weeping and lamenting along the highway. For countless years he dwells as a refugee on the hill called Puʻu-o-honua, then he returns to Kahiki-honua-kele and is buried on a mountain called Wai-hon(u)a-o-Kumuhonua. There his descendants also are buried and the place is called “The heaping place of bones” (O-ke-ahuna-iwi).7
(d) Kamakau version. Kane, assisted by Ku and Lono and opposed by Kanaloa, makes the heaven and the earth. All is chaotic. Nothing exists but the upper regions and the spirit gods. Kane excels among the gods in wisdom and power. The triad of gods unite in forming the world. They begin on the twenty-sixth day of the month, the day dedicated to Kane, and in six days, including the days of Kane, Lono, Mauli, Moku, Hilo, Hoaka, form the heavens and the earth. The sabbath or holy day of Ku is established on the seventh day.8
On Oahu between Kualoa and Kaneohe lies the first land planned by the gods. On the eastern flank of Mololani (a crater hill on Mokapu), at a place where fine red earth is mixed with bluish and blackish soil, the first man is formed by the three gods Kane, Ku, Lono. Kane draws a likeness of the gods with head, body, hands, and legs like themselves. Then he makes the image live and it becomes the first man. The gods place him in a house of kou wood and name him Huli-honua because he is “made out of earth.” The first man notices that his shadow always clings to him. While he sleeps the god makes a good-looking woman and when he awakes she lies by his side. He calls her Ke-aka-huli-lani (The shadow from the heavens).9
7. 24-35, 42-47.
8. Ke Au Okoa, October 14, 1869.
9. Ibid. October 21, 1869.
(e) Westervelt version. On the island-like peninsula of Mokapu on Oahu is the crater hill Mololani. On the east side near the sea red earth lies beside black soil. Kane makes an image of a man out of earth.… Ku and Lono catch a spirit of the air and give Kane’s figure life. They name him Wela-ahi-lani-nui. The man notices his shadow (aka) and wonders what it is. The woman is torn out of the man’s body by the god Kane; Ku and Lono heal the body. When the man sees her he names her Ke-aka-huli-lani after his own shadow.10
The similarities here to biblical stories have made readers suspicious of the stories of the forming of man out of earth and of the fall of man and his being driven out of a sacred garden. It is, however, much more likely that familiarity with the biblical stories has lent a coloring and an emphasis to traditions which were genuinely native than that the Hawaiians have invented these stories in direct imitation of Bible accounts. In the southern groups, Tane (Kane) makes a woman out of sand. In Tahiti, although Taʻaroa (Kanaloa) is the great first mover, Tane is the god of beauty who adorns the earth and Tu (Ku) is the “builder.”
The worship paid to Kane was of a simple character, without human sacrifice or laborious ritual. “Life is sacred to Kane” (ua kapu ke ola na Kane), was the saying. Kane worshipers were called he papa laʻa (a consecrated class) as distinguished from image worshipers.11 The heiau to Kane at first contained no images until image worship became popular, when they were introduced into all heiau. Ellis found the name Kane-nui-akea attached to a stone image from Kauai brought to the heiau of Kauai-kahaloa at Puapuaʻa in Kona, Hawaii, and with it two wooden gods called Kane-ruru-honua (Kane shaking the earth) and Rora-maka-ehe (probably Lono with flashing eyes) and a feather god called Ke-kua-ai-manu (The bird-eating god).12
A family altar called Pohaku-o-Kane (Stone of Kane) was set up to Kane in the shape of a single conical stone from
10. Honolulu, 70-74.
11. For. Col. 6: 266; Kepelino, 58.
12. Tour, 88; HAA 1908, 70.
a foot to eight feet in height, plain or with slight carving, and planted about with ti plant, where members of a family went to pray to their aumakua and ask forgiveness for the broken tapu to which they ascribed any trouble that had come upon them. Here they sought protection from their family god with offerings and prayer. They came early in the morning, chewed awa while a pig was baking, and, when all was ready, ate under tapu, leaving no remnants and clearing away all rubbish. The place for setting up the stone and the offering to be made were revealed in a dream to the kahuna they consulted. The stone itself was sprinkled with water or with coconut oil and covered with a piece of bark cloth during the ceremony. It is possible, since the Kane stone is generally regarded as an emblem of the male organ of generation, that this covering is similar to the reported practice, before worshiping an image in which sex organs were displayed, of covering those parts with tapa cloth.13
Each family worshiped Kane under the name of its own family Kane god, or aumakua, but invoked also all other Kane gods whose aid it desired. Kamakau lists thirty such aumakua and adds, with his customary love for exaggeration, “There were thousands and thousands of names to fit the work done, but all referring to one god. There was one altar and only one place to offer food, the stone of Kane, and among all inspired by a Kane god, one keeper should not despise another. They should all eat the sacrifices and offerings together; the difference lay in the law of each god and the things dedicated to each.” The prayer to the aumakua must hence be inclusive. It enumerates first the male aumakua, then the female, and begins, “Stoop down, heaven! listen, earth! hearken, pillars of earth, aumakua at the rising and the setting of the sun, from that tapu point to this tapu point! Here is the offering and the sacrifice, a sacrifice to the god because we are in trouble,” and concludes, after enumerating the gods of the heavens, “To all male aumakua and to all the chiefly ancestral aumakua, to you I appeal. Brush aside the dark-
13. Kamakau, Ke Au Okoa, March 3, 1870; Thrum, More Tales, 267-270.
ness, brush aside death, brush aside trouble. It is I [name of suppliant], chief one of your children in this life. Return, that we may have mana (sacred power).” The same invocation is repeated to the female aumakua and their names are listed.14
An example of Kane worship in the name of one of these lesser deities is illustrated in the description given by Kamakau of the place held by Kane-hekili (Kane in the thunder) as an aumakua on the island of Maui. Kane-hekili as god of thunder is associated with Kane-wawahi-lani (Kane breaking through heaven), Ka-uila-nui-maka-kehaʻi-i-ka-lani (Lightning flashing in the heavens), Ka-hoaliʻi, and other gods whose names suggest the lively phenomena of a thunderstorm. Humpbacked forms may be seen driving through the air at such times, led by Na-kolo-i-lani, or by the humpbacked brothers of Pele. During such a storm all containers should be turned bottom side up; all persons should lie face downward and make no outcry. Silence is the law (tapu) of Kanehekili. Two stones in the cave of Ke-ana at Kahuku on Oahu are said to be the bodies of two boys who disobeyed their mother’s injunction to keep silence during a thunderstorm.
Kane-hekili is the god worshiped by those who claim an aumakua in the thunder. Thunder is the divine form of the god. When he comes to his worshipers in a dream, he is seen in his human form with his feet standing on earth and his head touching the clouds, one side of his body black and the other side white. Such a mark on the body is hence the sign of one given to Kane-hekili. Anyone born with a birthmark on the right side is said to be so given. Ulumeheihei, the friend of Kamehameha and governor of Maui after the setting up of the kingdom, was one who had this sign. Kahekili, the last ruling chief of Maui, was tattooed on one side of his body to show that he belonged to the family of the thunder god. A kahuna named Kahekili who at one time kept the heiau of Pakana-loa, erected back of Keanae on Maui at a place where violent thunderstorms occur, came to be regarded as possessed by the spirit of Kane-hekili. He was feared as a sorcerer,
14. Ke Au Okoa, October 27, 1870.
but any plot against his life seemed invariably to be checked by a violent thunderstorm. When he died, his brother-in-law sought his body inside the heiau and carried away the head to Lanai and worshiped it as a god. Parts of the body were distributed, and men became known as worshipers of “eyes of Kahekili” or “mouth of Kahekili.”15
Chiefs who count their genealogy direct from Kane, whether on the Ulu or Nanaulu line, rank among the hoaliʻi or high tapu chiefs as distinguished from the lower grades of chiefs with a less distinguished family genealogy. Descent is therefore of vital importance and the privileges enjoyed by Kane worshipers are on the basis of such rank, which gives them command of tapus comparable to those of the gods. They are in fact gods (akua) in name as in effect, with power over life and death because of the awful sacredness with which their presence is regarded. They are “chiefs with the tapus of gods” (na liʻi kapu akua) as compared with the tapus enjoyed by the lesser chiefs (na liʻi noa). They are “chiefs of the ikupau” as compared with “chiefs of the ikunuʻu” who share the right to temporal power alone and the ordinary tapus of chiefs.
The name of Ka-hoaliʻi is given to “a mythical ancestor worshiped as a god,” deity of the walled heiau at Kawaipapa, Papaʻa, Kauai, and said to be the possessor of the two famous axes of old times from the gods Haumapu and Olopu with which he “cut asunder the government [aupuni] so that it fell.” It was with these axes that the kahuna must touch the ohia tree selected for the building of a luakini heiau before the tree was felled and brought down from the forest.16 On various ceremonial occasions the god was impersonated as a dark man, completely naked, with stripes or patches of white on the inner sides of his thighs. At the Makahiki festival he occupied a booth of lama wood during the period of the freeing of the various food tapus, and at the close of the period, when the aku fish were freed, the eyeball of a fish and that of a human victim were given him to swallow. At the building of
15. Ke Au Okoa, March 31, 1870; Westervelt, Gods and Ghosts, 124-125; J. Emerson, HHS Papers 2: 15.
16. Malo, 206 note 33; Kepelino, 12; HAA 1907, 42; 1910, 59-60.
a luakini heiau he was again impersonated by a naked man who led the running. At the dedication ceremony of a heiau for the circumcision of a young chief, a night was given up to this god during which none dared come outside lest he die. The priests passed about praying the people to come out and the official who sought human sacrifices, called the Mu, tried to entice out the unwary in order to secure a victim.17
The law (tapu) of this god was called Puʻu-koa-maka-ia (Hard eyeball of a fish) with reference to the human eyeball which was the offering he demanded. Kamakau asserts that a chief possessed by the spirit of Ka-hoaliʻi might invoke this law at any time when the followers of the chief were assembled. All must then look steadfastly at the chief thus possessed and anyone might be selected as victim and his eyes gouged out and swallowed in a cup of awa.18 Maui, when he recovers his wife from Bat, has to be appeased with the eyes of the abductor offered to him in a cup of awa before his injured feelings are pacified.19 Kuʻi-a-lua, god of the art of bone breaking (lua), demands of his pupils that they eat an eyeball of a victim after finishing their course of training.
The drinking of a victim’s eye with the kava as an offering to deity is reported from other groups. In Tahiti, when human victims were sacrificed, says Ellis, the eye was given to the king.20 In the Marquesas, the spirit of the brother-in-law of Tiki is caught up to the sky and sacrificed and the eyes are consumed with the kava.21 In New Zealand eyes are scooped out and swallowed in order to obtain the spirit of the owner, says Taylor.22
In myth Ka-hoa-liʻi or an equivalent is represented as a god of the underworld, who occupied “the subterranean region through which the sun passes each night from west to east.” In the legend of Kana, Ka-hoa-lei (or liʻi), vexed by Niheu, withholds the sun and leaves the people in darkness until Kana visits the land to the far east, blackens his hands to resemble those of the god, and gets handed up to him the
17. Malo, 197-199 note 25, 220-221; For. Col. 6: 10, 24-26. 18. Kamakau, Ke Au Okoa, March 17, 1870. 19. Thrum, More Tales, 259. 20. Researches 1: 342-352. 21. Handy, Bul. 69: 133-134. 22. 147.
sun, the stars, and the cock that signals the dawn.23 So in the legend of Aukele, that hero secures the water of life in the same manner from the servants of the underworld deity Kamoho-aliʻi at the pit of the far eastern edge of the world where the sun comes up.24 Kane himself is said to have come to Hawaii from the east, and old Hawaiians make the front door face the east as a sign of Kane worship and turn toward the sun when they offer their morning prayer.25
Chanted prayers to the gods were an important part, perhaps the important part, of temple worship. The most sacred of these were uttered by the high priest and for this ritual a scaffolding was erected within the temple area called the Lananuʻumamao because built in three stages, called nuʻu (earth), lani (heavens), and mamao (far off but not beyond hearing). This last and most sacred stage was entered by the high priest and ruling chief alone. The whole structure was covered with white bark cloth (oloa). On the floor of the temple platform surrounding the structure stood the images, the chief image directly in front of the staging. On each side of the tower were sometimes placed arches of bent saplings, three on a side, and these were supposed to bend if the offering (or prayer) was acceptable. This oracular response of the gods may be compared with the drum placed over a high chief’s threshold, whose sounding or silence indicated the rank of the one entering, or the cord similarly hung across the entrance which fell to the ground of itself before a high chief, but under which one of lower rank must stoop.
Prayers were offered at each step of the scaffolding. Some were offered at the altar before ascending the tower. A series of prayers used in the Kane worship and recited by an old Hawaiian from Kauai named Robert Luahiwa to Mr. Theodore Kelsey are here given as translated by Miss Laura Green in order to show the highly exalted religious feeling with which the high gods were approached by the priest who ut-
23. Rice, 102-105.
24. Ibid., 102-105; Ellis, Tour, 296; Dibble, 17; For. Col. 4: 86-96.
25. For. Col. 6: 275.
tered the prayer, the audience meanwhile sitting motionless in perfect stillness until, at the word noa, the tapu was “freed” and they might resume their customary liberty of movement. The word amama with which the prayer concludes is pre-Christian and not connected with the Christian amen.
The first prayer is little more than an enumeration of the names of Kane as the subordinate forms by which the one god who embraces them all is worshiped. It is the prayer “given by Kane when he began to offer prayer in the heiau of Kuikahi, at Hanapepe, Kauai, near the stream of Manawai-o-puna” and “is calling on the lesser Kanes to do their duty and aid him.”
The second prayer is one offered by Kane to the assembly (papa) of gods from the steps of the oracle. It is significant that the female gods of growth, Laka and Hiʻiaka, are invoked with Kane, and that the plants used for temple decoration are included among the names of Kane: the fragrant myrtle (maile), the ieie vine or climbing pandanus, the sacred lehua and dracaena trees out of which images were carved. Pele, Kapo, and the male and female Ku gods are also invoked. The enchanted stone Kapolei, formerly belonging to Kauai, is mentioned.
The third prayer is offered at the altar. Lono of the heavens, Hiʻiaka, and Laka are invoked with “red Kane.”
At the fourth prayer the priest is within the “six” arches and upon the steps of the scaffold. Here the reciter breaks off. The most sacred prayers, those uttered from the prayer tower, are not reported.
The same reciter gives a fifth prayer offered when gathering plants in the mountains for temple decoration. The guardian spirits are invoked to return and possess the plants. “Produce sacredness, produce freedom, freedom for me, a man,” prays the gatherer, and then begins to pluck the leaves with prayer. The address to Kane-i-ka-pahuʻa (Kane the thruster) is said to be to Kane in the guise of an owl, who thrusts with wings and talons at the enemies of his worshipers in time of battle and turns aside their weapons. The word may also mean “dancer.” Kane-i-ka-pahu-wai is “Kane with a calabash of water” which he pours out upon the earth below.