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Hawaiian Mythology

By Martha Beckwith

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Book Id: WPLBN0002096813
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 58.43 MB
Reproduction Date: 4/12/2011

Title: Hawaiian Mythology  
Author: Martha Beckwith
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Auxiliary Sciences of History, Hawaiian Culture
Collections: Folklore, Science Fiction Collection, Mathematical Statistics, Authors Community, Probability Theory, Religion, Favorites from the National Library of China, Math, Sociology, Recreation, Statistics, Literature, Most Popular Books in China, Social Sciences, History, Favorites in India, Science, Education
Publication Date:
Publisher: University of Hawai'I Press
Member Page: Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center


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Beckwith, B. M. (1970). Hawaiian Mythology. Retrieved from

Why after thirty years, should Beckwith’s Hawaiian Mythology be reprinted? Why, for the last twenty-five years, have scholars and amateurs alike sought for either new or used copies of this book which has become a rarity? To begin with, it was the first, and is still the only, scholarly work which charts a pathway through the hundreds of books and articles, many of them obscure and scarce, and through the little-known manuscripts that record the orally transmitted myths, legends, traditions, folktales, and romances of the Hawaiian people. Beckwith herself saw it as a “guide to the native mythology of Hawaii” (p. xxxi), and by mythology she meant “the whole range of story-telling” (p.2). Secondly, from the vantage point of Hawaiian oral narrative the book directs the reader into similar material from peoples elsewhere in Polynesia who are closely related to the Hawaiians, reminding him of relevant narratives from areas west of Polynesia and occasionally even east of Hawaii. The southern Pacific comparison Beckwith offers as “an important link in tracing routes of intercourse during the period of migration of related Polynesian groups” (p. 5). However, except to summarize immediately the hypothesis current in 1940 and to make her detailed comparisons throughout the book, she is unconcerned with migration theory as such. Consequently, under the silent weight of testimony, the reader envisages for himself the Pacific being criss-crossed every which way by sailing families who passed on their lore wherever they found listeners.

This guide to the native mythology of Hawaii has grown out of a childhood and youth spent within sound of the hula drum at the foot of the domelike House of the Sun on the windy island of Maui. There, wandering along its rocky coast and sandy beaches, exploring its windward gorges, riding above the cliffs by moonlight when the surf was high or into the deep forests at midday, we were aware always of a life just out of reach of us latecomers but lived intensely by the kindly, generous race who had chanced so many centuries ago upon its shores. Not before 1914 did the actual shaping of the work begin. The study covers, as any old Hawaiian will discover, less than half the story, but it may serve to start specific answers to the problems here raised and to distinguish the molding forces which have entered into the recasting of such traditional story-telling as has survived the first hundred years of foreign contact. To the general student of mythology the number and length of proper names in an unfamiliar tongue may seem confusing. Hawaiian proper names are rarely made up of a single word but rather form a series of words recalling some incident or referring to some characteristic significant of the person or place designated. To a personal name an epithet may be affixed, such as “o ka lani” which means literally “of the heavens” but is translated by Hawaiians by the term “heavenly” as a title of endearment or adoration. The name of the parent is often added with the causal possessive “a” meaning “child of,” as in Umi-a-Liloa, which may be read “Umi, child of Liloa.” In many cases the definite article “ka” becomes a part of the name and hence the preponderance in Hawaiian of names beginning with this syllable. Since recognition of its composition is essential to its proper accent, in cases where this is known with a good degree of probability through native informants, the name has been hyphenated upon its first appearance and occasionally throughout.

Table of Contents
Introduction. vii -- Preface. xxxi -- Coming of the Gods. 1 -- Ku Gods. 12 -- The God Lono. 31 -- The Kane Worship. 42 -- Kane and Kanaloa. 60 -- Mythical Lands of the Gods. 67 -- Lesser Gods. 81 -- Sorcery Gods. 105 -- Guardian Gods. 122 -- The Soul after Death. 144 -- The Pele Myth. 167 -- The Pele Sisters. 180 -- Pele Legends. 190 -- Kamapua?a. 201 -- Hina Myths. 214 -- Maui the Trickster. 226 -- Aikanaka-Kaha?i Cycle. 238 -- Wahieloa-Laka Cycle. 259 -- Haumea. 276 -- . Papa and Wakea. 293 -- Genealogies. 307 -- Era of Overturning . 314 -- Mu and Menehune People. 321 -- Runners, Man-Eaters, Dog-Men. 337 -- Hawaiian Mythology - The Moikeha-La?a Migration. 352 -- Hawaiiloa and Paao Migrations. 363 -- Ruling Chiefs. 376 -- Usurping Chiefs. 387 -- Kupua Stories. 403 -- Trickster Stories. 430 -- Voyage to the Land of the Gods. 448 -- Riddling Contests. 455 -- The Kana Legend. 464 -- The Stretching-Tree Kupua. 478 -- Romance of the Swimmer. 489 -- Romance of the Island of Virgins. 498 -- Romances of Match-Making. 506 -- Romances of the Dance. 519 -- Wooing Romances. 526 -- References. 545 -- Index. 555 --


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