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Hawaiian Kakau

Page history last edited by jhale05@... 11 years, 1 month ago

Hawaiian Kakau and Culture.  

      Hawaiian Kakau (tattoo) came to the islands from Samoa and is greatly influenced by Samoan tatau. Many of the designs are similar and are very geometric. They symbolize designs that are found in nature such as currents, tides, woven reeds and other plants. Hawaiian tattoo often marked class or family heritage. Hawaiian chiefs and high class members of society often had extensive tattoos that covered much of their body. Hawaiian kakau also could mark things such as occupation. Hula dancers often tattooed their hands and feet to accentuate their movements.  Hawaiian tattoo was also spiritual, warriors believed that the kakau served as protection during battle.


     When Captain Cook came to the Hawaiian Islands he banned much of their Kakau. Some Hawaiians continued to practice Kakau in secret but many of the Kahuna (tattoo artists) were lost along with the secrets of Hawaiian Kakau. The tattoo that did survive began to change once Captain Cook came to the Hawaiian Islands. Designs began to incorporate more foreign animals and images, but most practices of tattoo were discontinued. 



Hula is also a very important part of Hawaiian culture. There are two types, 'Auana, which is more modern and Kahiko, which is ancient. Both of these styles tell stories and include songs or chants. This dance has been performed since the beginning of Hawaiian culture, often for Chiefs and on special occasions. 







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