Hawaiian culture has a rich history filled with fascinating legends, customs, dance, music and traditions. While there are many ways to learn about Hawaii’s past, immersive experiences always have a way of transporting you back through time. You can get a taste of Hawaiian culture by visiting a Luau, taking hula or surfing classes, or even lei-making. It’s hard to avoid the spirit of Aloha, because it’s part of everything we do.
In this post we’ll focus on some of Hawaii’s history through the breathtaking artwork of Ancient Hawaii.
Few things have captured the imagination like the fine art of ANCIENT when it comes to Hawaii’s legendary mythos. ANCIENT first debuted at the “ANCIENT Hawaii” exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art in April 2015. These surreal compositions portray the timeless stories of “The Profound Ancestors” held kindled within the lives of the Hawaiian people today. Each piece of artwork is a glimpse into Hawaii’s rich culture in ancient times.
FORGING FIRE – Ho’ohana ahi
Inspired by the legends of Pele, Forging Fire represents Pele shaping (forging) the land.
Although Pele is not credited with the birth of the land, she is recognized for her ability to shape the land through fires and volcano. After arriving in Hawaii from her native land of Tahiti, Pele engaged in many battles that ranged throughout the Islands with her sister Namaka and other profound ancestors.
THE DANCE – Hula
Inspired by the legends of Laka, “The Dance” is dedicated to Laka and her enduring presence in Hula.
Laka has many representations in both male and female form. In “The Dance” we attempted to represent the essence of Laka in the female form. Laka is recognized as the difinitive ancestor of Hula and also the forest. Prior to entering the forest the Hawaiian would give praise to Laka and request her blessing.
“We used a bit of artistic license in the styling and environment of the image. We adorned the model in a Ti Leaf skirt although Ti Leaf was not introduced to Hawaii until the 1800’s. However, as we have stated, we are simply attempting to represent “the essence” of the profound ancestor and the beauty of Hawaii.”
HIDDEN BEAUTY- Huna ka u’i
Inspired by the legend of La’ieikawai.
This is one of my personal favorite stories. It is a story of romance, intrigue and eventual deification. La’ieikawai is recognized as one of the most beautiful women in Hawaii. She was hidden away in the forest of Puna where she was protected from her father and many potential suiters by a Mo’o, Birds and the Maile sisters. Eventually La’ieikawai, after marrying and leaving the “sun god” becomes recognized as the profound ancestor of rainbows. According to the legend, the dwelling place of La’ieikawai could be found at the end of the rainbow.
“We attempted to depict “the essence” of La’ieikawai and used the Maile vines to represent the protection provided by the Maile sisters and the camouflage of the deep forest.”
WATER of LIFE- Ka wai ola
Inspired by the legends of Kane, one of the four primary patriarchal ancestors.
This image depicts Kane (the creator) as he creates Man and Woman. This particular legend is similar to the Biblical “creation story” in which Man was sculpted from dirt and Woman was born from his side. It is believed by some that the original ancient story was changed when the Missionary related the biblical story to the Hawaiian people. However, there is no direct evidence to prove this belief. Kane is most recognized for his ability to create water by tapping his staff on the ground to bring forth water. Kane is one of the most profound ancestors and is recognized for in many forms and elements of nature. The word Kane means Man.
FERTILE GROUND – Honua momona
Inspired by the legends of Haumea, she is associated with birth, fertility and creation.
Haumea is identified as the Patroness of child birth and the Ancestress of the Hawaiian People. This image depicts the essence of Haumea in her natural domain. Haumea was said to have been able to give birth from all parts of her body and is the mother of Pele. We have used waterfalls to represent her fertility not only in child birth but also providing a fertile land, the flowing genealogy of the Hawaiian people and the sustenance of man.
KAPA MOON – Mahealani
Inspired by the legends of Hina. Although there is no direct translation for “Kapa Moon” we have used the Hawaiian translation for “Full Moon”.
Hina is recognized in many forms and legends and is one of the most profound matriarchal ancestors of Hawaii. Legend tells of Hina being the Lady of the Moon and a great Kapa maker. Although you would not actually pound Kapa under the moon, we used some artistic license in an attempt to depict the essence of Hina in but a few of her many forms. Hina is usually represented in a horizontal or reclined position while her husband Ku is usually depicted in the vertical or rising. Together they represent the setting and rising of the sun, the west and the east.
PEACE – Maluhia
Inspired by the legends of Lono, one of the four primary profound ancestors.
Lono is most commonly associated with Makahiki, a time of Peace and Harvest. Makahiki is an annual period in which time no war can occur. Although Makahiki is a time of peace, it is also a time of training, games and celebration. In this image we have attempted to represent Lono being praised as he brings peace to the Lands of Hawaii. The waterfall represents Lono as he descends on a rainbow from his place in the clouds where Lono is recognized in his dominion over Thunder and Rain.
CONFRONTATION – Ku he alo a he alo
Inspired by the legends of Hi’iaka, sister of Pele.
Hi’iaka is a enigmatic profound ancestor. Renowned for her beauty she is legend to have magical powers that allowed her to “shape shift”, chant, heal and battle mythical creatures. Hi’iaka embarked on many adventures throughout the Islands to locate Lohiau, Pele’s lover. On these adventures she was often confronted by creatures such as Mo’o, E’epa and Kupua. Hi’iaka wore a magic Pa’u skirt that was said to “contain lightening in the folds”. The skirt was able to transform into a “fern whip” that she would use to blast the creatures. This image depicts the essence of Hi’iaka in one of her confrontations. Due to the fact that there is no “agreeable” description of the magical creatures, we implemented CGI techniques to create the creatures based on multiple descriptions and elements.
SCORNED – Ho’owaha waha
Inspired by the legends of Kamapua’a, the Pig God.
In his youth Kamapua’a was an extremely handsome, powerful man that attracted many lovers. Due to his fathers disdain for him and after being scorned by his lover Pele, Kamapua’a was succumb to anger. Kamapua’a is able to change his appearance and resemble the features of the Hawaiian Boar. In this image we have attempted to depict the reclusive Kamapua’a high in the dominion of his Ko’olau homeland. We attempted to portray his stoic and proud nature while reflecting a certain sadness in his eyes.
THE CATCH – Ho’ohopu
Inspired by the legends of Maui, one of the most recognized profound ancestors in modern Hawaii.
The legends of Maui range throughout the Pacific. In Hawaii, Maui is considered a demi god. He is featured in many legends and is most notably appreciated as a mischievous trickster. Of his many escapades, he is renowned for snaring the sun, lifting the sky, capturing fire and his notable fishing exploits. In this image we have depicted Maui using his mighty hook in an attempt to bring the islands closer.
ORIGIN – Kinohi
Inspired by the legends of Papakahanmoku and Wakea.
Papakahanamoku (Papa), sometimes referred to as Haumea is recognized as the “Earth Mother” and for birthing the the land(s) from the depths of the ocean. She is also recognized as the matriarch of Hawaiian people. Recognized as the “Sky Father”, her husband Wakea and her had a very tumultuous relationship. In this image we have attempted to depict Papa giving birth to the land with Wakea looking on from the sky as a father would gaze on his wife in the beauty of birth.
VOYAGER – Holokai
Inspired by the legends of Kanaloa, one of the primary profound ancestors.
Kanaloa is recognized throughout the South Pacific as the ancestral God of the oceans and often represented by the octopus and is closely associated with voyaging and navigation. In this image we have depicted Kanaloa ushering “the Great Voyage” that lead to the discovery of Hawaii. He is represented with his care of the voyagers providing a calm sea. We have dedicated this image to the continued efforts of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and their perpetuation of Voyaging and sustainability.
THE DEEP- Hohonukai
Inspired by the legends of Kanaloa.
Kanaloa is the only profound ancestor that we depicted in two images. This image and the previous image are meant to represent the duality of the nature of the ocean. Kanaloa is one the most profound ancestors of Ancient polynesia and in Hawaii is often recognized in his close friendship with Kane. In more modern times, he took on a presence “from the underworld”. In this image we have attempted to portray Kanaloa and the power of the ocean. The two images together personify the personality of the ocean. As all seafarers know, the ocean can change dramatically in an instant; thus the dichotomy is reflected in these images.
FROZEN MANTLE – ‘A’ahu maka’ele’ele
Inspired by the legends of Poli’ahu of Mauna Kea.
Poli’ahu is cloaked in a mantle of snow and ice. Her home is the snow capped Mauna Kea. Many legends of Poli’ahu illustrate her ongoing conflict(s) with her arch rival, Pele. The contrast between the two is natural. Poli’ahu atop the cold, snow and ice covered Mauna Kea directly facing off against the fiery volcanic peaks of Pele’s home on Kilauea. Poil’ahu is cold and aloof and Pele is hot tempered and profound. Both women are stunningly beautiful as are the mountains they inhabit.
WARRIOR SPIRIT – Na Koa
Inspired by the legends of Ku, one of the original ancestors from the beginning.
Ku is recognized in many forms. He is one of the four primary profound ancestors and is associated with as “the Creation” and is seen in many forms of nature. Many people know of Ku as a war god although he is also a great healer. In this image we have depicted the spirit of Ku embodied in the Hawaiian Warrior (Koa). In our attempt to illustrate the spirit of the warrior, Ku is called on by the warriors to give them power and victory in battle. Ku’s power is recognized in the warrior (center) performing a Ha’a to exhibit his strength and cause fear in the opposition.
About the creators of ANCIENT HAWAII
“The ANCIENT images are designed to inspire investigation and promote educational awareness of the Hawaiian Culture.
It is through these images that the creator’s aim to recognize the profound ancestors of Hawaii, the natural beauty of Hawaii and the sustainability of the Hawaiian people through their connection with the environment and their ancient culture.”
Canadian born Colin Anderson, moved to Australia with his parents at the age of 14, later studying advertising and design at a Melbourne University.
He went on to work as a creative director at an advertising/design agency before leaving to pursue a career as a photographer.
Although considered a generalist, Colin’s work is stylistic, conceptually and often narratively based. A vision, that has been shared with such diverse companies as IBM, Harper Collins New York, Apple, Compaq, Dell, Maxtor, Microsoft, Toshiba, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Canon, Kodak, MTV, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, MasterCard, Merrill Lynch, Hotel Sofitel, Hayman Island Resort, Sheraton, Warner Bros, EMI, Universal and many more.
Robert King Andia
Raised in Hawaii, Robert began his career whilst in High School as an illustrator and textile artist. During this period he developed a passion for photography and eventually moved to America where he launched into the entertainment industry as a photographer, talent manager and producer.
Robert is an internationally recognized photographer whose images have appeared in advertising, commercial, video, magazine and media campaigns throughout the world. His career has spanned over 30 years working for some of the top fashion and advertising clients in the world including Armani, Ralph Lauren, Guess, Oswald Boateng, Expedia, Sony, Mitsubishi, Outrigger Hotels, Turtle Bay Resort, Elle Magazine, GQ, Marie Claire, Getty Images and many more.
Throughout all his travels, Hawaii still remained home in his heart.
He returned to Hawaii after the events of 9/11 2001, where His wife and He purchased one of the Waikiki Beach Catamaran Companies and he is currently working again as a fashion and advertising photographer. The ANCIENT project has been something that has been in Robert’s heart since he was young child.
You can learn more about ANCIENT HAWAII and viewing opportunities online at www.hawaiiancient.com