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Hawaiian Creation Myths

by Daphne Elliott
In the midst of Chaos there was a great void. It was a time of deep darkness, before the memory of mankind.

Into this void came Kane, the god of creation. He picked up a giant calabash, threw it high into the air where it broke into two enormous pieces. The top piece was curved like a bowl, and became the Sky. The seeds scattered and became the stars. The remainder of the calabash fell downward, and became the Earth.

The Sky was the domain of the god Rangi, while the domain of the Earth was of the goddess Papa. To Kanaloa Kane gave the care of the sea that surrounded them.

Kane proclaimed that he was going to create a great Chief to rule over all the Earth. To prepare for the needs of this great Chief, he first filled the earth with living things: caterpillars to make moths and butterflies; eggs which would hatch into birds of every sort, both land birds and sea birds. He created geckos and salamanders, and turtles, for both land and sea.

To the god Ku he gave the domain of the forests to grow great trees of koa wood and candlenut, hau and wiliwilli. To Lono he gave the domain of food plants for the Chief to eat: coconut, breadfruit, sweet potato and taro.

Kane was satisfied, and told the gods they must now seek out the material required to construct this great Chief, be it wood, or clay, stone or bark. He sent them far and wide. The gods searched and searched, when one day, they found a great mound of rich, red earth. overlooking the sea. They took some of this earth to Kane, who fashioned a figure of a man from it, breathing life into it as he did so.

Soon the man walked about, and spoke to the gods, and the gods were pleased. They called him Red Earth Man, and proclaimed him the first son of Rangi Sky and Papa Earth. From this union came Wakea, and his wife, Lihau'ula, from whom are descended the priests (kahuna) and other chiefs (alii). Chiefs forever more are descended from this first union of Rangi and Papa.

In the text of the sacred Hawaiian Creation Chant Kumuliho, can be found all the names of the generations that followed.


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