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The Legends and Myths of Hawaii Paperback – August 1, 1990
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The Legends and Myths of Hawaii, first published in 1888 under the authorship of His Hawaiian Majesty Kalakaua, has been widely acknowledged as one of the first and most significant collections of native Hawaiian folklore to have reached an international audience during the last century. Drawing upon his intimate knowledge of the oral traditions of his ancestors, King Kalakaua has woven a bright Hawaiian tapestry of romantic legends, mythical heroes, and historical events that remains as dramatic, readable and informative today as it was when first published over a hundred years ago. The Hawaiian folklore presented in this historic work captures the older Polynesian worldview that had united the sacred and profane in all aspects of spiritual, natural or human endeavor. It speaks to an ancient time when gods and goddesses mingled freely with their earthly counterparts and when the living and the dead spoke together freely of the seen and unseen marvels of earth, ocean, volcano and air.
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A word of warning: this book has small print. It's smaller than the usual paperback print, so it is recommended that you use a magnifying glass or light if you have a hard time reading small print.
And who better to write it but the last King of Hawaii!
Certainly there is a slant to European influence, but I found that in the introduction. The assumption by the author of the introduction that most of these legends have their roots in semitic lore is going too far. Stories like these come from all cultures and have nothing to do with Middle Eastern culture.
Many people in many places of the world that have been touched by Christian missionary work fail to understand that the beliefs and God of Christianity has been drawn into the existing culture and is not as "pure" as is assumed.
I do not doubt that David Kalakaua was influenced by European thought, but he also had great respect for traditional Hawaian beliefs. To assume that these represent an European version of Hawaian lore that is false. As the royal representative of his people, David Kalakaua knew that it was his responsibily to present accurate and faithful renditions of these stories.
Contental Americans and tourists from all over the world think they understand Hawaii, but Hawaians are a secretative people about their beliefs in traditional Hawaian culture. Anyone who expects them to publically display their inner passions will be disappointed and uninformed.
Ride one of the public bus routes and while you will see the islanders in their "western" skins, just look into their eyes and you often see a detachment from many "western" styles and beliefs. They are not a rude people -- just very private.
Just because there are tourist displays of traditional forms of music and dance, tourists can't possibly get into the mind and heart of an Hawaian. Those who think they understand Hawaii from a "white" viewpoint understand nothing.
I say hurrah to David Kalakaua for his faithfulness to many of his people's stories and lore.