I had posted this in a blog that I no longer publish. So for some this will be a repeat.I wanted to relay what it felt like when Bishop Museum‘s Ku was joined by two other Ku. They were on loan from the Peabody Museum in Massachusetts and the British Museum in London. This was a very powerful event as these Ki’i had not been together in over a hundred years.
At this point in time the two visiting Ku have gone back to their respective museums so you won’t be able to see them. But there is hope in that in the future they will come again. Until that time I will have it all in my mind’s eye. Again a special privilege for the docents to see this non public performance.
This is what took place as the hula halau paid their respects to the Ku.
I would like to show you something through my mind’s eye because I could not use my camera. The sounds, colors and energy were such that it needed to be shared.
Standing in my assigned area in Hawaiian Hall at Bishop museum I set my eyes on the blues and golds that the halaus (dancers) were wearing. The maile (fragrant leaves of deep green that drape the neck without connecting.)leis were draped around their necks and they wore gold haku (leis that are worn on the head) on their heads. They stood poised not moving.
The ceremony to welcome and honor the three Ku was about to take place. From out side of the hall I could hear a voice, chanting
, calling. As he got to the hall and entered with the Hawaiian words calling out, the drums began to beat a slow rhythm.
No one moved in the audience. It was as though an electric charge was slowly rolling through out the hall. The hair on my arms started to rise as the dancers slowly moved their hips, their arms rhythmically moved through the air and they started to call out and began chanting too.
The drums sounded stronger as the dancers began to recite and sing the praises of Ku. They chanted an introduction of who they were and where they had traveled. They called back and forth and all the time they kept dancing faster.
I thought of all the ancestors whose spirits have been said to walk the hall, the two Ku that had not been home to the islands in over 170 years. What energy was being emanated as they were being honored and shown the respect that would have taken place had not the islands fallen into foreign hands.
The power of the dance held me as though I were stepping into a time capsule and being planted back in ancient Hawaii
. In that era from a safe spot I was able to watch a special performance that maybe at one time would have been preserved for only a very special few.
The only sad part of the day for me was, I didn’t have my camera. As I lamented this fact to another docent he said as he pointed to his forehead, You have it here Karen, and you’ll always have it here.
And so I do, of course it isn’t the same for those of you who read this because after all, I know you can’t see what I see, but maybe one day you will make it to the museum to stand in front of those Ku and be able to feel and admire them and carry that home with you. But remember, “no photos allowed.”