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O'ahu - Honolulu: Bishop Museum - Hawaiian Hall - Kumulipo, The Creation Story | by wallyg
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O'ahu - Honolulu: Bishop Museum - Hawaiian Hall - Kumulipo, The Creation Story

Carl F. K. Pao, a contemporary Hawaiian artist, created a 16-panel acrylic and paper on MDF visual interpretation of the Kumulipo (literally, the origin or source of life), a chant which expresses the very earliest Hawaiian understanding of the origins and development of life in the Islands. The purpose of the chant is to genealogically link Hawaiian ali'i (chiefs) to nature and to the gods shared with other Polynesians. Pao created his Kumulipo based on various translations, but based largely on the work of King David

Kalakaua in the 1880s, and the more recent translation by Martha Beckwith (1951).


Four is a powerful number for Hawaiians, and four times four is even more powerful; hence the traditional 16 panels of the creation story. Each panel contains aspects of the sea, land and sky, and depicts the progressive stages of the moon. Each white triangle symbolizes a generation with the stacked line of triangles indicating the many generations, or one's ancestral lineage. Each black dot on top of two white stripes represents one's piko or navale and the ceral polyp, which is the first evidence of life. Through generations/panels, fish, plants and birds begin to appear; turtles move between the sea and land, larger sea and land animals emerge, man appears and his ties to the land, flora and fauna is symbolized by the fetus ties (umbilical) to kale, breadfruit and other elements important in the lives of the Hawaiian people.


The Hawaiian Hall Complex at the Bishop Museum consists of Hawaiian Hall and Polynesian Hall, both built to the Richardsonian Romanesque design of architect William F. Smith in 1898. The three-floor Hawaiian Hall takes visitors on a journey through the different realms of Hawai‘i. The first floor is the realm of Kai A-kea which represents the Hawaiian gods, legends, beliefs, and the world of pre-contact Hawai‘i. The second floor, Wao Kanaka, represents the realm where people live and work; focusing on the importance of the land and nature in daily life. The third floor, Wao Lani, is the realm inhabited by the gods; here, visitors will learn about the ali‘i and key moments in Hawaiian history.


The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, designated the Hawai'i State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, located in the historic Kalihi district, is the largest museum in Hawai'i and home to the world's largest collection of Polynesian cultural and scientific artifact. The museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop, in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last legal heir of the Kamehameha Dynasty. The museum was established to house the collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of the Princess, but has since expanded to include millions of artifacts, documents and photographs. Bishop built the Hawaiian Hall and Polynesian Hall on the grounds of the original Kamehameha School for Boys. The Museum and School shared the Kapa-lama campus until 1940 when a new larger school complex was opened nearby, and the museum expanded.

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Taken on May 26, 2010