Hawaiian Mythology (English Edition)
THIS guide to the native mythology of Hawaii has grown out of a childhood and youth spent within sound of the hula drum at the foot of the domelike House of the Sun on the windy island of Maui. There, wandering along its rocky coast and sandy beaches, exploring its windward gorges, riding above the cliffs by moonlight when the surf was high or into the deep forests at midday, we were aware always of a life just out of reach of us latecomers but lived intensely by the kindly, generous race who had chanced so many centuries ago upon its shores.
Not before 1914 did the actual shaping of the work begin. The study covers, as any old Hawaiian will discover, less than half the story, but it may serve to start specific answers to the problems here raised and to distinguish the molding forces which have entered into the recasting of such traditional story-telling as has survived the first hundred years of foreign contact.
To the general student of mythology the number and length of proper names in an unfamiliar tongue may seem confusing. Hawaiian proper names are rarely made up of a single word but rather form a series of words recalling some incident or referring to some characteristic significant of the person or place designated.
To a personal name an epithet may be affixed, such as "o ka lani" which means literally "of the heavens" but is translated by Hawaiians by the term "heavenly" as a title of endearment or adoration.
The name of the parent is often added with the causal possessive "a" meaning "child of," as in Umi-a-Liloa, which may be read "Umi, child of Liloa." In many cases the definite article "ka" becomes a part of the name and hence the preponderance in Hawaiian of names beginning with this syllable.