Monday, July 1, 2013

Tika & Hawaiian Bells & Birth Announcements

Leaving Tika happily with Gramma Kay last February, we enjoyed some time in Kauai. We visited the museum near Waimea Canyon and I was fascinated by display of the Bell Stone. That's me tapping the stone and it really did ring like a bell!

Once home, and reading an old booklet Legends of Wailua, I learned much more about the importance of the Bell Stone to the ancient Hawaiians:  "Whenever the King wanted more men of strength to be added to his family..... he would send word to the common people that any expectant mother who knew (from their Kahuna) that she was going to have a son, would be permitted to walk the King's Path to the Holo-Holo-Lu Heiau and have her baby there. ............. After giving birth to the child, she would be sent back to her home as she was a commoner and could not stay in the Wailua (sacred) area. Her child, however, was left in the care of the priests.

After the birth, the baby's navel cord was cut and wrapped in a tapa cloth and placed in a crack in a big rock, called the Navel Rock, where it would remain for four days. After that time, the Kahunas would look to see if the tapa bundle was still there. If it was not, the Kahunas believed that rats had stolen the navel cord and since rats are thieves, the child too would be a thief and therefore the child would be executed. If however the cord was still in the Navel Rock it was a sign the child would be good.

When the cord was found intact, there was great joy and celebration. The Kahunas would march in a line on the King's Path to the Bell Stone. While marching they would chant prayers of rejoicing. Upon arrival at the Bell Stone they would chant different prayers while tapping the Bell Stone in such a way as to produce a ringing sound. This was the announcement to the people of Kauai that a child had passed the test and a new high chief had been born to a commoner."

Tika says to us, "And how did you announce the birth of your child?? And what if that baby had been a girl? And seems to me the Hawaiian genealogy is just as mixed up and uncertain as any other lineage."

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