The Legends of Kapa

April 16, 2019

The Legends of Kapa

In ancient Hawaiian times, Kapa was very meaningful to the ancient Hawaiians — used in nearly every aspect of life. It was made out of the wauke plant and primarily used for clothing such as the malo (loincloth), the pau (woman’s wrap around), and the kihei (shoulder wrap). Kapa was made sacred by Hina, the goddess of the moon. She was known to beat her kapa cloth to be as white as snow and as clear as a mountain stream. Legend has it that Hina left traces of her kapa tools across the Hawaiian islands which is how the kūpuna learned to make kapa.

Another legend tells of first wauke plant which is said to have grown from the grave of an elderly man named Maikohā who was buried in Nuʻuanu Valley on Oʻahu. He is known as the ancestor-god of kapa makers. His daughters, Lauhuki and Laʻahan, became the patrons and ʻaumakua of those who created kapa designs. And it is said that a man named Ehu, discovered the colors in the plant juices and so is known for discovering the dyeing processes of kapa.

Although today Kapa is not as common as it once was, it still holds significance as part of Native Hawaiian culture. It is a reminder of the craft and delicacy of the Hawaiian ancestors, and shows us the evolution of the Hawaiian history.


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