Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kumu Oli

Kumu Oli - To understand What, and Who the Kumu Oli is, one must first understand a bit about the ancient, sacred art and skill of Oli.

The Oli (Hawaiian Chant) falls into two broad categories, mele oli and mele hula. Mele oli are chants delivered with no musical instruments and are generally performed by one individual. However, mele hula are chants accompanied by dance and or musical instruments and are often performed by a group. Within these categories are dozens of kinds of chants, formal and informal, for specific occasions and purposes. Each type of chant was performed in a specific way and style. For example, kepakepa style (rapid rhythmic recitation) for prayer chants, ho‘āeae style (soft and short drawn-out vowels) for love chants, ho‘ouweuwe style (heavier voice with protracted vowels) for wailing or lamenting chants, and koihonua style (distinctly pronounced words) for genealogical chants.

The mana (spiritual power) of an oli lies in its themes and kaona (hidden or double meanings). Hidden meanings, such as rain as a metaphor for love, or the lehua blossom as a metaphor for warrior could make a chant both a recounting of an actual event, or speak of love and war depending on who heard and understood the chant. As such, the oli may be understood on different levels by different people. Whether speaking of actual events or filled with metaphors, the oli reflects a people and culture that are quick-witted, poetic, and finely attuned to nature in their imagery, themes, and kaona.

With no written language, the ancient Hawaiians depended on the oli as their primary art form to preserve oral histories and traditions such as genealogy, special places, important events, and prayers. As such, the oli was the very life blood that preserved and perpetuated the Hawaiian culture. Individuals were chosen in their youth and received special training to oli and become living historians and genealogist. The oli was accurately committed to memory sometimes covering over a hundred generations and several thousands of years. Today, the oli is referred to as the “soul” of the Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (aboriginal peoples of Hawai‘i) and is recognized at the highest form of the Hawaiian language.

A man I have never personally met, but have come to know and admire greatly through Facebook is a Hawaiian Chant (Oli) master "Kumu Oli." His name is Sam Ohu Gon III. A Senior Scientist/Cultural Advisor at the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii. Please follow this link!/notes/sam-ohu-gon-iii/questionnaire-on-being-a-kumu-oli/10151233000072311

Mahalo for learning a little about Kumu Oli.
Palolo Bob

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Honi- Hongi



Honi- To Kiss; A Kiss; A Hawaiian Greeting

Formerly to touch noses on the side in greeting.

The honi is a Polynesian greeting in which two people greet each other by pressing noses and inhaling at the same time. This is a very honorific as this represents the exchange of ha--the breath of life, and mana--spiritual power between two people. This act and the concepts behind it are very unusual to western audiences and care should be taken to explain the spirituality and sacredness of this simple act of greeting.

Hongi- To the Maori

A hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one's nose and forehead (at the same time) to another person at an encounter.
It is used at traditional meetings among Māori people and on major ceremonies and serves a similar purpose to a formal handshake in modern western culture, and indeed a hongi is often used in conjunction with one.
In the hongi, the ha (or breath of life), is exchanged and intermingled.
Through the exchange of this physical greeting, one is no longer considered manuhiri (visitor) but rather tangata whenua, one of the people of the land. For the remainder of one's stay one is obliged to share in all the duties and responsibilities of the home people. In earlier times, this may have meant bearing arms in times of war, or tending crops, such as kumara (sweet potato).
When Māori greet one another by pressing noses, the tradition of sharing the breath of life is considered to have come directly from the gods.
In Māori folklore, woman was created by the gods moulding her shape out of the earth. The god Tāne (meaning male) embraced the figure and breathed into her nostrils. She then sneezed and came to life. Her name was Hineahuone (earth formed woman).