Visiting Bishop Museum 

Bishop Museum is an artifact in  itself. Built in 1898, you step back in time when you enter into the main hall. 

The stair case you see here is carved from Koa. Elsewhere it is known as acacia. The Koa was cut down at the property of Princess Pauahi’s estate on the big island of Hawaii. 

The Koa was then sent to Minnesota where it was milled and sent back to Oahu where it was put into the museum. 

            A close up of the finniel carving

Charles Bishop, Pauahi’s husband,chose Minnesota because he felt that the Sweeds who lived in Stillwater Minnesota were the best carpenters. 

It was at the bottom of this stair case that a student taking a private evening tour with her class told me about her experience. 

As the guard turned out the lights they stood there and watched as a lightly scented light assend to the second floor and checked out each exhibit case and then ascended up to the third floor and do the same. It then descended to the first floor and was gone. 

Yes there are many types of artifacts and visitors to the Bishop. You never walk away disappointed. 

Tuesdays at Bishop Museum

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My mind has become very dull. I need to challenge it. By dull, I mean giving children’s tours at Bishop museum has made me complacent. Giving adult tours always keeps me on my toes.

Fridays at Bishop have an abundance of docents and none want to give up their public tours. Not many want to do the children’s tours either. So when the museum re-opened their doors on Tuesdays I jumped at the chance. I knew I would once again be able to do regular adult, public tours.

After the museum had closed it’s doors on Tuesdays, for financial reasons, a way was found to once again welcome the public back that week day.

Kids aren’t my thing. As I had said my brain was starting to atrophy having to talk down to them. When I did get to substitute on Fridays and do adults I was finding I was having a hard time describing artifacts and culture in a more mature way.

Now having started in the last part of 2015 on Tuesdays I am once again researching and trying to switch my tours up to a more interesting subject to keep adults interested. I am not complaining. I love research but the funny thing is I’ve discovered I miss the kids. So starting the first of January we started booking them once again now on Tuesdays.

Guess who is able to do both children and adults? Me! With mixed feelings I have started back with the kids with the provision that I still get to do one public tour each week along with the kids. My brain is being challenged. I do realize now that it takes just as much work to keep the kids interested as it does adults.

Today on my children’s and adult tours I stopped to talk about the Hale Pili. I always ask the children what they think this particular Hale (house) was used for. You can read about it in this past post https://kareninhonolulu.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=524&action=edit

Today with the adults it was interesting as they asked questions I was not prepared for.

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It was a simple question and one that I could not answer. So I had to do research. Someone had asked me where did the adult children who married go when they needed their own houses. Hmmm. Well I knew families did stay together but just how?

What I found was they added on a hale or house in the compound where the parents lived with other families or they built a large Hale to accommodate everyone.  I found this quote from the book ” Arts and Crafts of Hawaii” on page 77,  amusing. “…some persons had no houses but lived on the hospitality of others,” and he refers to such person contemptuously as “o-kea-ili-mai (drift gravel) and “uni-pehiiole” (stone to throw at a rat).” Even back then they had the problems with unwanted guest.

On further research I found hales had one door. It was a very low door so that you had to crawl into the sleeping house. This had a purpose. When winds would blow it helped to keep them from wafting through the dwelling. Also in the middle of the sleeping hale was a small pit to keep a fire burning throughout the night. Though it helped to heat the area its main purpose was to keep spirits that roamed during the night out of the house.

There were many common areas too that everyone shared so it was just a matter of one or two houses being needed for sleeping. Cooking was done by the men, women ate together with the very young children in their own hale, and men ate together in theirs. They had hales for fishing equipment, working on household items such as kapa, baskets and mats.

I never thought about this but it makes sense. They did not have problems with bugs or pest coming into the sleeping hale at night because they did not have any. It was not until the Europeans and whalers started to arrive bringing pest and illnesses with them.

The larger introduced animals also meant big problems as they started to eat the grass off of the Hawaiian’s dwellings! They also ate the grasses and leaves used to make the hales. It gave new meaning to being eaten out of house and home.

I am so happy to be back to the public tours and having this one simple question has given me much to add to my bag of tricks so to speak. I know the kids will really enjoy hearing about the cows eating the houses. Oh those kids they laugh at the darnedest things.

Information about the Hales comes from the book “Hawaiian Culture”page 198-201

When They Call, You Must Go

This is an experience I had years back when Hawaiian Hall at Bishop Museum was undergoing restoration. I love these experiences and enjoy sharing them. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

The sun was out, and the whole Koolau range was in view. Sun and blue skies equal no people at the museum. As I stood in the main entrance a few people passed into the Kahili room. Maybe a couple viewed the art in the vestibule.

In the quiet I heard someone singing. Now you have to remember that lots of people have had ghostly experiences in this hall and I was not sure what I heard. But the sound was definitely there. Then it became muffled. I didn’t want to trudge up the two flights of stairs to check what was going on. The only people who had ventured to the upper exhibit area was a very pleasant Hawaiian couple.
But I still heard the singing and it was coming from above. I called over to security and told them to look into their cameras to see if someone was singing in the photo gallery.
“Yeah, someone is, let me get one of the security over there.”
Now I could hear the singing clearer and it sounded like chanting. The young guard came through the main doors and headed up the stairs. Soon the chanting became louder and I was curious. So I ascended the stairs also.
The doors to the exhibit hall had been closed and now one was ajar. I knew that they were supposed to be opened. I entered and saw the guard talking to the male of the Hawaiian Couple. The woman was in a corner, arms raised in supplication, moving gracefully,chanting. I approached the guard who was now in a mildly heated conversation.
The Hawaiian man was being told that he could not be chanting or singing or doing anything in the museum without permission and that they had to leave.
In the past there have been demonstrations and even artifacts have disappeared and the guard was worried that this could be some kind of demonstration. The gentleman was stating that the things of the museum were part of his ancestry and he gestured around the room.
The woman was still chanting as the discussion went on and then the security received a call from the office asking what was status of the situation. He stated that a woman and man were singing and he was trying to get them to leave.
I on the other hand saw that they were chanting as I had seen many times before in the museum. I did not feel that they were protesters but that they were paying their respects. Although other chanters always requested permission before doing so.
After a time the woman finished and came over to us and started speaking Hawaiian. I only understood a word here and there but, really, had no idea what she was saying. When all was said and done it was explained that she had come to say a prayer or a pule. At least that is what I think she said.
They were from the island of Hawaii. The woman said that she had been called by the spirits of her Kupuna or ancestors. They had been appealing to her to please come to the museum as they were being neglected and hid away. She said that she came to reassure them and to honor them and help them to be at peace. Now she is telling me this in half English and half Hawaiian so I am not sure that I got it all correct. I just knew that maybe my boss, Kealoha, would arrive soon as he would know how to interact.
Really the chanting was beautiful and she was graceful and kind. And I guess when it comes to the Hawaiian culture my heart goes out to that community for all the suffering that has taken place in the past. I knew that once Kealoha arrived  he would make it all well.
I mentioned that though nothing was wrong with chanting and that what she was doing was fine they just needed to make arrangements and then I explained to her why the room that she was in was so changed. She was upset at seeing all of the artifacts, that were once in the room, were gone and it was now just paintings. She felt that was why she was being called. I told her that the room had been restored to its original condition like it was when the Museum opened in 1898.
I told her that many things were going to be different once all restoration was finished and that much more of the Hawaiian artifacts were going to be brought out that weren’t displayed before. She was very happy to hear that and asked if she could go on to the other exhibit areas. I said it was fine as long as she didn’t chant and that Kealoha would be in soon and she could talk to him.
As I got  back to the main floor many people had arrived and so I announced that I would be doing a tour and people began to gather. As I started to talk, Kealoha and the Hawaiian couple entered into the Kahili room. Soon sounds of chanting could be heard. All the heads turned. I explained what it was and let them listen for a while which they did with much appreciation.
As I was into the middle of my tour the coupled left and nodded as they headed out the door. I felt good, I believe the kupuna, also, felt good, and certainly the visitors enjoyed witnessing a bit of the Hawaiian culture. I love it when that happens.
The ancestors had called, they were heard and she answered.

A Tutu By Any other Name is Definitely Not A Tutu (Grandma)

It’s Friday. So I must be at the museum. When I open the door to the atrium to enter what is usually an empty area, I am surprised by a room full of people. Blocking the door on the other side of the room is Emily, a docent my age, holding a beautiful little baby. Cameras are flashing, and the room is abuzz as she stands for this photo opp.

Hmmm, what is going on I’m thinking as I try to figure out how I’m going to go through this swarm of people. From across the room on the other side near the other entrance are some of the employees I work with. They are dressed ready to do a special performance for the honoree. One of them frantically waves me towards her signalling me to go through the entrance in back of them.

Quickly I snake my way through and pass her and then as I pass the other employee behind her he whispers to me “Bishop Tutu.”I nod and go past  quickly. As I enter the hall I’m perplexed. “Are they designating Emily the Tutu (Grandmother) of Bishop Museum?” She volunteers as a docent she serves on boards and is always available for anything they need her for. And she is a grandmother. So why not?

Getting to the front of the hall I see another employee, Bill, standing out front re-routing people and asking them to please understand that for about 10 more minutes the back atrium is blocked and the museum will then once again be open.

Wow, all this to name someone Tutu of the museum? “Why are you re-routing everyone, why aren’t we (all the docents) allowed back there? What’s the big deal about a tutu? Just then one of the more senior people of the museum came by and said, “Did you get to see Desmond Tutu?

“Desmond Tutu?” Where is he? I saw Emily getting her photo taken but didn’t know he was here. So I was taken to the back where all the upper echelon of the museum milled around, and there sat Desmond Tutu. What a trill to actually see the man. It was more exciting to me then the time I gave Senator Inouye a tour of the museum.

Desmond Tutu served 6 years as Chair for an organization known as the “Elders”, a group formed to use their  influence to support peace building. He was here to take part in a series of ongoing visits for the “Pillars of Peace Hawaii,” a Hawaiian organization  formed to inspire people to compassion, cultivate justice and diversity in our society.

Along with Desmond Tutu at the museum was Gro Harlem Brundtland. She was the first woman Prime Minister of Norway and serves as Deputy Chair of The Elders. Also attending was Hina Jilani a renowned lawyer and pro-democracy campaigner. She is a leading activist in Pakistan’s women’s movement. She has dedicated her life to fight for human rights around the world.

And as for the “Bishop Tutu?” Well it certainly wasn’t Emily though it was her grandson who Desmond Tutu was enthralled with. Hence the Kodak moments. But Bishop Tutu it was. He was the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize  in 1984 for his work in the struggle against apartheid.

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Desmond Tutu. I am not sure if the woman behind him was one of his daughters.

Well you know I wasn’t exactly introduced to him.

ImageSeated to the right of Desmond Tutu are, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Hina Jilani

And no I am not in the photo but just as happy to be able to have taken it.

Niihau Shell Lei, a Little Bit of This and That

 

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From the small little island of Niihau, 18 miles long and 3-6 miles wide, comes the small little shell, columbella varians sowerly, or more commonly known as the Niihau shell. How small you ask? Well in the above photo of a lei made from a variety of this shell you can count 7,000 of them!

And like the shell, Niihau is small but unique. Niihau was purchased in 1864 from King Kamehameha the IV for $10,000. Imagine owning your own little island at that price today. The Sinclair family bought it to start-up ranching. The native Hawaiians lived and worked there but no other people were allowed to visit or take up residence. It became known as the Forbidden Island. Through the years the island came into the hands of two brothers, the Robinson’s, who were descendents of the Sinclair’s.

The island being isolated for many years meant that the Hawaiian language and culture were in many ways preserved. The Hawaiians were employed by the Robinson’s and provided with places to live.

I had heard people say how there were no modern conveniences and that the only entertainment they had was a radio. I’m not sure how they lived as I never met anyone who had managed to get on to the island. Only friends or relatives of the residents there could visit. But in my research I was fascinated to find that their was a school for the kids that was supported totally with solar power that allowed the children to use computers. Now that seems modern to me.

Alas in 1999 the family had to shut down the ranching. That left residence with very little employment. Now there is said to be maybe 70 Hawaiians living there and during the summer when they go to visit relatives on nearby Kauai, there are as little as 30 left on the island.

The Niihau shell lei which can sell for more than $10,000 is considered now to be the prime source of earning an income on the island. Unfortunately with all of the people moving away there are very few left to collect these microscopic shells. This means that there are very few people who are carrying on the art of making the lei and there are few skilled artisans to make and pass on the craft.

Once a piece of art that you could buy for five dollars on the street may become a thing of the past. But for now the leis are still available and still quite popular. Here are some photos from the current exhibit at Bishop Museum. I’ve also included some sites where I have gotten some of my information from. You can check them out at the end of the photos.

 

 

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Niihau shell drapes.  From the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It would have been used to decorate a doorway or display over a mantle.

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http://www.islandbreath.org/2005Year/a05-19-farming/0519-03robinsonlegacy.html

http://niihauheritage.org/niihau_today.htm

http://www.niihauheritage.org/niihau_history.htm

Manaikalani at Bishop Museum

DSCN1256Manaiakalani made from wood. The tip is bone lashed on with Ol0na a cord made from the fiber of the Olona tree.

When giving tours to children, at the Bishop Museum, the first stop is to the case containing Maui’s fish-hook which is called Manaiakalani. Maui sometimes called a god and sometimes called a demigod was famous throughout the pacific. It is even said that many belive he really did exist at some time in history.

IMG_1180Maui, the Manaiakalani and the ‘Alae ‘Ula

For the children though I think the story of how Maui, given the hook Manaikalani by his father, took his brother fishing for the giant fish Pimoi captivates their imagination.

The brothers were to paddle their canoe out to sea and not look back as Maui baited the hook with the ‘Alae ‘Ula or what is called the Hawaiian Moorhen. You can see the hen in Maui’s hand in the above photo. It was said that Pimoi was attracted to the red around the birds face.

As the brothers paddled and Maui held on to the line the giant fish emerged. The brothers looked back, the fish pulled away and the line snapped causing the fish to break apart and the hook to fly off into the sky where it became the constellation Manaiakalani or Scorpius.

And what happened to the fish? Well he broke apart. Each part became a Hawaiian Island. Hey that’s just as believable as George Washington not being able to tell a lie!

I always ask the kids what their version is and there is always a different one or they may not have heard it at all. But they enjoy hearing about the waves thrashing and something big coming out of the ocean and I enjoy telling the story to them. Believe it or not even some adults like the story too. What do you think?

 

LEAVING HOME TO GO TO THE HOME OF THE MERRIE MONARCH Part III

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With point and shoot in hand these are what I captured the rest of the night. Maybe it’s not so much that these photos are blurry but I’m disappointed that I could not capture the essence of the dance. That has nothing to do with the camera it only has to do with me. Does that have to be inborn? Or maybe I have to do more reading and shooting. I’m sure I have to do more what ever it is.

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As the dancers enter the stage part of how they approach is judged also. They will enter like the girls on the right then dance on to the stage in stages.

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I love to capture  the hair and skirts as they swish in the same movement. Many think of the ancient Hawaiian women with their log hair down their back but their was a time during Capt. Cooks visit that the women actually cut their hair very short and bleached it in the front. How they bleached it I don’t know but it was quite stunning. We have drawings of the women at the Bishop Museum.

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Withe such a large group it is very hard to manage a dance and have it totally synchronized. DSCN1939

When the men enter the stage the house gets uproarious and hoots and clapping, whistling and energy rises. Even though the patterns on the costumes may seem too modern there are actual Kapa clothing in our displays at the muse with this pattern. There are also sketches of ancient Hawaiian dancers with this exact style being worn as the men dance. Kapa clothing was quite colorful contrary to what many people thing of.

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This move is not as easy as it looks and many hours goes into practicing this in order to be able to carry it out flawlessly.

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All the greenery you see here is made by the dancers. I know that some halaus even go into the mountains to pick all of the vegetation that they wear.

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Here the kumu, I believe she is the gray haired lady, and her group do the chanting and accompaniment for the men.DSCN1925

Again I am not sure exactly what period this is because it definitely has the influence of the missionaries which does not seem kahiko to me. But then again it is the 50th anniversary so I am not sure what they were trying to portray here as kahiko.

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This reminds me of the Sumo outfits I’ve seen. Even the hair. I so wish I had the program to be able to tell what this represented.DSCN1903

This is my grandson’s kumu and the above photo shows her men dancing.

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The costumes can be very elaborate and costly. I’ve heard that you might have to pay around 1500 in cost just to be in one of these competitions. This particular competition is  non-profit.

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I love the ankle and hair pieces along with the costuming.

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This costuming is more what I think of the Kahiko style and of course the men always bring the house down when they dance. It is really high energy.

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Again they are performing a difficult move but with their long hair hanging down in back I think it is so beautiful.DSCN1864

The ti leaf draped over the skirts just makes the whole look.

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This halau is from Oakland California. Their kumu in not quite traditional but oh these guys were great. I would love to see them again. People went wild when they danced. Unfortunately they didn’t eve place.

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The kumu for the above men is in sunglasses. Perhaps that is part of what takes marks away from their performance. I don’t know as it certainly wouldn’t be considered traditional. But as I think back to all of the Hula I have seen through the years all of it has changed what was traditional then is rarely even seen today.DSCN1843

These were the drums he used. I don’t know what they are made from. The drums we have at the museum are made from coconut and the top is stretched with sharkskin.

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Again some blurred photos for your enjoyment 🙂DSCN1839

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I had taken over 200 that night and these were the only ones that turned out half way decent. On part 4 I will tour the island a little bit visiting the birthplace of my kids grandparents.