Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology



The Hawaiian Islands, situated between latitudes 19° and 22°15' N., comprise the only inhabited Polynesian group north of the equator. These volcanic islands form the northern angle of the Polynesian triangle. The main group includes the following eight islands: Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. Off Niihau are the rocky islets of Lehua and Kaula, and extending toward the northwest is a long range of uninhabited rocky islets consisting of Nihoa, Necker, French Frigate Shoal, Gardiner, Laysan, Lisiansky, Midway, and Ocean. Nihoa and Necker have archaeological remains. The large islands are well wooded and watered, and the soil and climate are favorable to the growth of introduced plants.

page 107

Native legends state that the island of Hawaii was discovered by Hawaiiloa who named the island after himself. He headed the first settlers, who have been termed Menehune. The Menehune had no cultivated food plants or domestic animals. They are credited with building many of the fishponds and religious structures termed heiaus, and a good deal of myth has been composed about them and their doings. They are associated mostly with Kauai. It is probable that, like the Manahune of the Society Islands, they were of Polynesian stock who left central Polynesia at an early stage in the development of Polynesian culture. They were followed, in about the twelfth century and later, by settlers from Tahiti who had a more advanced stage of culture. The later arrivals brought all the Polynesian cultivated food plants (except the plantain), the paper mulberry, and all three of the domestic animals. The Menehune were absorbed by the later arrivals, and the culture, which was developed on a central Polynesian pattern, was enriched by many local developments.

The European discoverer of the group was Captain James Cook in 1778, for the oft quoted Spanish discovery by Juan de Gaetano in 1555 has been conclusively disproved. Cook's description of the native culture is full and authoritative. Besides later British voyagers, the group was visited by Russian and French navigators, as shown in the literature list which follows, and they recorded useful source material.

Missionaries from New England commenced their labors in the islands in 1820, and among those who wrote about the people, the names of Bingham and Dibble may be mentioned. The best missionary account of the Hawaiians, however, was made by William Ellis, a member of the London Missionary Society, who paid a visit from Tahiti. The missionaries compiled an alphabet for the Hawaiian language and established schools.

Among native Hawaiian students, Malo, Kamakau, and Kepelino recorded interesting material about their people, but their work was influenced by the desire to fit Christian teaching into their accounts of mythology and native religion. Malo's manuscript, entitled "Hawaiian antiquities", translated by N. B. Emerson, and Kepelino's "Traditions of Hawaii", translated by Martha Beckwith, were both published by Bishop Museum. Kamakau's contributions consisted of a number of articles published in the Hawaiian language newspapers. These were collected and typed out by the Museum as more available. source material. They were translated by Martha Beckwith and Mary Pukui, and the material is at present in bound manuscript form.

Of other writers, the names which stand out prominently are Fornander, Thrum, Alexander, Westervelt, and Emerson. Fornander amassed a great quantity of material, but his weakness lay in accepting Christian affinities in the Hawaiian accounts as being old instead of recent. He thus propounded a Semitic origin for the Hawaiians and Polynesians. Thrum founded the Hawaiian Annual in 1875 and contributed many valuable articles to its pages. page 108He was particularly interested in religious stone structures and did much to locate them on the various islands. The contributions of the various local writers are enumerated in the literature list.

Among periodicals, the Missionary Herald, published in Boston, contained early impressions of the missionaries in Hawaii, the accounts commencing in volume 17, published in 1821. Interesting articles written by Hawaiians appeared in language newspapers such as Ke au okoa and Ka nupepa kuokoa. The articles of ethnological value have been translated by Mary Pukui, Assistant in Hawaiian Linguistics, and filed at the Museum for future study.The work of the Hawaiian Historical Society, founded by W. D. Alexander, J. S. Emerson, T. G. Thrum, and others is referred to on page 41.

A period of increased output in ethnological literature is associated with Bishop Museum. Studies on the Museum's collections by Brigham and Stokes and "Fornander's collection of Hawaiian antiquities and folk-lore" were published as Museum Memoirs. Since 1920, the Museum has published many studies on topical subjects in Hawaiian culture. Among the contributors may be mentioned the following: Beckwith (mythology and folklore), Cartwright (genealogies, history), Dickey (string figures), Emory (archaeology), Handy (therapeutics, agriculture), Judd (proverbs, language), Luquiens (art), Pukui (birth and translations), Roberts (music), Sullivan (physical characters), Te Rangi Hiroa (technology), and Wissler (physical characteristics).

Hawaiian Literature

Early Voyagers
  • Arago (1817-1820)
  • Beechey (1825-1828)
  • Belcher (1836-1842)
  • Bennett (1833-1836)
  • Broughton (1795-1798)
  • Byron (1824-1825)
  • Chamisso (1815-1818)
  • Choris (1815-1818)
  • Cook (1776-1780)
  • Dixon (1785-1788)
  • Duhaut-Cilly (1826-1829)
  • Du Petit-Thouars (1836-1839)
  • FranchÉre (1811-1814)
  • Freycinet (1817-1820)
  • Golovnin (1817-1819)
  • Kotzebue (1815-1818)
  • Kotzebue (1823-1826)
  • Krusenstern (1803-1806)
  • Langsdorff (1803-1806)
  • La perouse (1785-1788)
  • Lisiansky (1803-1806)
  • Meares (1788-1789)
  • Menzies (1791-1795)
  • Mortimer (1789)
  • Portlock (1785-1788)
  • Roquefeuil (1816-1819)
  • Stewart (1829-1830)
  • Turnbull (1800-1804)
  • Vancouver (1791-1795)
  • Wilkes (1838-1842)
Later Writers

Alexander, W. D., A brief history of the Hawaiian people, New York, 1891.

Alexander, W. D., Brief history of land titles in the Hawaiian Kingdom: Hawaiian Annual for 1891, pp. 105-124.

Alexander, W. D., A short synopsis of the most essential points in Hawaiian grammar, Honolulu, 1864, and later editions.

page 109

Andrews, Lorrin, Grammar of the Hawaiian language, Honolulu, 1854.

Beckley, Emma M., The Hawaiian fisheries …, Honolulu, 1883; reprinted as Hawaiian fishing implements and methods of fishing: U. S. Fish Comm., Bull. 6, pp. 245-250, 1886.

Beckwith, Martha W., The Hawaiian romance of Laieikawai: Bureau Am. Ethnol., 33d Ann. Rept, 1911-1912.

Beckwith, Martha W., Hawaiian mythology, New Haven, 1940.

Bingham, Hiram, Residence of twenty-one years in the Sandwich Islands, Canandaigua, New York, 1855.

Blake, Tom, Hawaiian surfboard, Honolulu, 1935.

Campbell, Archibald, A voyage round the world from 1806 to 1812; in which … the Sandwich Islands were visited …, pp. 120-215; 267-275, Edinburgh, 1816.

Cartwright, Bruce, Legend of Hawaii-loa: Polynesian Soc., Jour., vol. 38, pp. 105-121, 1929.

Cobb, John N., The fishes and fisheries of the Hawaiian Islands: United States Fish Comm. Rept. for 1901, pp. 353-499, 1902.

Corney, Peter, Voyages in the northern Pacific: narrative of several trading voyages from 1813-1818 … Kamehameha's realm; manners and customs …, Honolulu, 1891.

Culin, Stewart, Hawaiian games: American Anthropologist, n.s., vol. 1, pp. 201-247, 1899.

Dalton, O. M., Notes on an ethnological collection … voyage of Captain Vancouver, 1790-1795: Archiv für Ethnogr., vol. 10, pp. 225-245, 1897.

Dibble, Sheldon, History of the Sandwich Islands, Lahainaluna (Hawaii), 1843.

Dole, Sanford B., Evolution of Hawaiian land tenures: Haw. Hist. Soc., Paper no. 3, 1892.

Ellis, William, Journal of a tour around Hawaii, the largest of the Sandwich Islands, Boston, 1825, and later editions.

Ellis, William, Polynesian researches, vols. 1-4, 2d ed., London, 1831 [vol. 4: Hawaii].

Emerson, J. S., The lesser Hawaiian gods: Haw. Hist. Soc., Paper 2, 1892.

Emerson, N. B., The poetry of Hawaii: Haw. Hist. Soc., 11th Ann. Rept., pp. 12-22, 1903.

Emerson, N. B., Unwritten literature of Hawaii: Bureau Am. Ethnol., Bull. 38, 1909.

Emerson, N. B., The long voyages of the ancient Hawaiians: Haw. Hist. Soc, Paper 5, 1893.

Emerson, N. B., Pele and Hiiaka, Honolulu, 1915.

Emerson, O. P., The awa habit of the Hawaiians: Hawaiian Annual for 1903, pp. 130-140.

Fornander, Abraham, An account of the Polynesian race …, 3 vols., London, 1878-1885.

Handy, E. S. C., Cultural revolution in Hawaii: Inst. Pacific Relations, New York, 1931.

Handy, E. S. C., andPukui, Mary K., Ohana, the dispersed community of Kanaka: Inst. Pacific Relations, Honolulu, 1935.

Handy, E. S. C., and others, Ancient Hawaiian civilization, Honolulu, 1933.

Hyde, C. M., Hawaiian names of relationships of consanguinity and affinity: Hawaiian Annual for 1884, pp. 42-44.

Jarves, James J., History of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands, Boston, 1843.

Judd, H. P., Pukui, Mary, andStokes, J. F. G., Introduction to the Hawaiian language, Honolulu, 1943.

Kaaiakamanu, D. M., andAkina, J. K., Hawaiian herbs of medicinal value, Board of Health, Honolulu, 1922.

Kamakau, S. M., Ancient Hawaiian religious beliefs and ceremonies (trans. by Thomas G. Thrum): Hawaiian Annual for 1911, pp. 149-158.

KrÄmer, Augustin, Hawaii, Ostmikronesien und Samoa, Stuttgart, 1906.

Kukahi, Joseph L., Ke kumulipo, Honolulu, 1902.

Liliuokalani, Queen (translator), An account of the creation of the world according to Hawaiian tradition, Boston, 1897.

page 110

Makemson, M. W., Hawaiian astronomical concepts: American Anthropologist, vol. 40, pp. 370-383; vol. 41, pp. 589-596, 1938, 1939.

Montgomery, James, Journal of voyages and travels by the Rev. David Tyerman and George Bennet, Esq. … between the years 1821 and 1829, 2 vols., London, 1831.

Peabody Museum, The Hawaiian portion of the Polynesian collections in the Peabody Museum of Salem, Salem, 1920.

Perkins, E. T., Namotu: reef-roving in the south seas, New York, 1854.

Pogue, J. F., Moolelo Hawaii, Honolulu, 1858.

Pogue, J. F., Ka moolelo Hawaii, Lahainaluna, 1838. (Translated into French; see Jules Remy.)

Pokuea, J. F., see Pogue.

Read, Charles H., An account of a collection of ethnographical specimens formed during Vancouver's voyage in the Pacific Ocean 1790-1795: Royal Anthrop. Inst.Great Britain and Ireland, Jour., vol. 21, 1891, 1892.

Remy, Jules, Recit d'un vieux sauvage, Chalons-sur-Marne, 1859. (Translated by W. T. Brigham, Contribution of a venerable savage to the ancient history of the Hawaiian Islands, Boston, 1868.)

Remy, Jules, Histoire de l'Archipel Havaiien, Paris, 1862.

Stokes, J. F. G., Notes on Polynesian feather work: Polynesian Soc, Jour., vol. 34, pp. 24-35, 1925.

Stokes, J. F. G., New bases for Hawaiian chronology: Haw. Hist. Soc., 41st Ann. Rept, pp. 23-65, 1932.

Stokes, J. F. G., Spaniards and the sweet potato in Hawaii and Hawaiian-American contacts: Am. Anthropologist, n.s., vol. 34, pp. 594-600, 1932.

Stokes, J. F. G., Japanese cultural influence in Hawaii: Fifth Pacific Sci. Congress, Proc. (Vancouver), pp. 2791-2803, 1933.

Te rangi Hiroa (Peter H. Buck), The local evolution of Hawaiian feather capes and cloaks: Polynesian Soc, Jour., vol. 53, pp. 1-16, 1944.

Thrum, Thomas G., Hawaiian folk tales, Chicago, 1907.

Thrum, Thomas G., More Hawaiian folk tales, Chicago, 1923.

Thrum, Thomas G., Heiaus and heiau sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiian Annual for 1907, pp. 36-46; for 1908, pp. 38-47; for 1909, pp. 38-43.

Thrum, Thomas G., Tales from the temples, Hawaiian Annual for 1907, pp. 49-69; for 1908, pp. 48-78; for 1909, pp. 44-54.

Thrum, Thomas G., Hawaiian calabashes: Hawaiian Annual for 1902, pp. 149-154.

Thrum, Thomas G., Hawaiian salt making: Hawaiian Annual for 1924, pp. 112-117.

Thrum, Thomas G., Hawaiian surf riding: Hawaiian Annual for 1896, pp. 106-113.

Townsend, Ebenezer, Diary of Mr. Ebenezer Townsend, Jr. … ship Neptune [1798], New Haven Hist. Soc, Paper 4, 1888.

Westervelt, W. D., Legends of Maui …, Honolulu, 1910.

Westervelt, W. D., Legends of old Honolulu, Boston, 1915.

Westervelt, W. D., Legends of gods and ghosts …, Boston, 1915.

Westervelt, W. D., Hawaiian legends of volcanoes (mythology), Boston, 1916.

Westervelt, W. D., Hawaiian historical legends, New York, 1923.

Bishop Museum Publications

Andrews, Lorrin, Dictionary of the Hawaiian language. Revised by H. H. Parker, Special Pub. 8, 1922.

Beckwith, Martha W., Kepelino's traditions of Hawaii, Bull. 95, 1932.

Bennett, W. C, Archaeology of Kauai, Bull. 80, 1931.

Bloxam, Andrew, Diary of Andrew Bloxam, naturalist on the "Blonde"… 1824-25, Special Pub.. 10, 1925.

Brigham, W. T., Hawaiian feather work, Mem., vol. 1, no. 1, 1899.

Brigham, W. T., Stone implements and stone work of the ancient Hawaiians, Mem., vol. 1, no. 4, 1902.

page 111

Beigham, W. T., Noteworthy Hawaiian stone implements, Occ. Papers, vol. 2, no. 1, 1903.

Brigham, W. T., Additional notes on feather work, Mem., vol. 1, no. 5, 1903.

Brigham, W. T., Mat and basket weaving of ancient Hawaiians, Mem., vol. 2, no. 1, 1906.

Brigham, W. T., Old Hawaiian carvings, Mem., vol. 2, no. 2, 1906.

Brigham, W. T., The ancient Hawaiian house, Mem., vol. 2, no. 3, 1908.

Brigham, W. T., Hawaiian curved adzes, Occ. Papers, vol. 4, no. 4, 1910.

Brigham, W. T., Ka hana kapa: the making of bark-cloth in Hawaii, Mem., vol. 3, 1911.

Brigham, W. T., Additional notes on feather work, Mem., vol. 7, no. 1, 1918.

Buck, Peter H. (Te Rangi Hiroa), Hawaiian shark-tooth implements, Bull. 180, pp. 27-41, 1943.

Cartwright, Bruce, Some aliis of the migratory period, Occ. Papers, vol. 10, no. 7, 1933.

Chappell, H. G., Jaws and teeth of ancient Hawaiians, Mem., vol. 9, no. 3, 1927.

Coulter, J. W., Distribution of population and utilization of land and sea in Hawaii, 1853, Bull. 88, 1931.

Dickey, L. A., String figures from Hawaii: including some from New Hebrides and Gilbert Islands, Bull. 54, 1928.

Emory, K. P., An archaeological survey of Haleakala, Occ. Papers, vol. 7, no. 11, 1921.

Emory, K. P., The island of Lanai, a survey of native culture, Bull. 12, 1924.

Emory, K. P., Archaeology of Nihoa and Necker Islands, Bull. 53, 1928.

Emory, K. P., Hawaiian tattooing (in manuscript).

Fornander, Abraham, Hawaiian antiquities and folklore, ser. 1-3, Mem., vols. 4-6, 1916-1918.

Handy, E. S. C., Pukui, M. K., andLivermore, K., Outline of Hawaiian physical therapeutics, Bull. 126, 1934.

Handy, E. S. C., The Hawaiian planter, vol. 1, Bull. 161, 1940.

Holman, L. R., Journal of Lucia Ruggles Holman, Special Pub. 17, 1925.

Hudson, A. E., Archaeology of Hawaii (unpublished manuscript).

Judd, H. P., Hawaiian proverbs and riddles, Bull. 77, 1930.

Kamakau, S. M., History of Hawaii: period of early Kamehamehas. Translated and edited by M. W. Beckwith (unpublished manuscript).

Kamakau, S. M., Hawaiian traditional beliefs and customs. Translated and edited by M. W. Beckwith and M. K. Pukui (unpublished manuscript).

Kepelino, see Beckwith.

Luquiens, H. M., Hawaiian art, Special Pub. 18, 1931.

Malo, David, Hawaiian antiquities, Special Pub. 2, 1903.

McAllister, J. G., Archaeology of Oahu, Bull. 104, 1933.

McAllister, J. G., Archaeology of Kahoolawe, Bull. 115, 1933.

Pukui, M. K., The canoe making profession of ancient times, Occ. Papers, vol. 15, no. 13, 1939.

Pukui, M. K., Hawaiian beliefs and customs during birth, infancy, and childhood, Occ. Papers, vol. 16, no. 17, 1942.

Rice, W. H., Hawaiian legends, Bull. 3, 1923.

Roberts, H. H., Ancient Hawaiian music, Bull. 29, 1926.

Stokes, J. F. G., Hawaiian nets and netting, Mem., vol. 2, no. 1, 1906.

Stokes, J. F. G., Walled fish traps of Pearl Harbor, Occ. Papers, vol. 4, no. 3, 1909.

Stokes, J. F. G., Index to "The Polynesian Race", by Abraham Fornander, with a brief memoir of Judge Fornander by W. D. Alexander, Special Pub. 4, 1909.

Stokes, J. F. G., Notes on Hawaiian petroglyphs, Occ. Papers, vol. 4, no. 4, 1910.

Stokes, J. F. G., Fish poisoning in the Hawaiian Islands, Occ. Papers, vol. 7, no. 10, 1921.

Sullivan, L. R., Observations on Hawaiian somatology, Mem., vol. 9, pt. 4, 1927.

Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter H. Buck), Hawaiian arts and crafts (in preparation).

Walker, W. M., Archaeology of Maui (unpublished manuscript).

Wissler, Clark, Growth of children in Hawaii; based on observations by Louis R. Sullivan, Mem., vol. 11, no. 2, 1930.