[Photo: Dish for ʻawa; Kānoa. This is a handmade kamani wood bowl with a flat bottom and a shellac finish. It is a bowl used to prepare and serve ʻawa. Photo copyright by David Franzen. SXH 128115.]
He Pule Kanu ʻAwa na Kāne
Today’s featured mele is a prayer for planting ‘awa. Often associated with the god Kāne, the versatile nature of ‘awa lent its usefulness to everything from ceremony and rituals, to medicine and relaxation.
(Mele translation by Mary Kawena Pukui)
Kanu ʻia i hea ka ʻawa a Kāne? … Where was the ʻawa of Kāne planted?
Kanu ʻia i Kahiki, a ulu a lau i Kahiki … It was planted in Kahiki, grown and leafed in Kahiki
A oʻo i Kahiki, aka i Kahiki … Matured in Kahiki, grew stems in Kahiki
A mama ʻia aʻela i kō waha aku i ke kāheʻe i kō ʻapu … Chewed by your mouth and poured into your cup
A mama ʻia aʻela i kō waha aku i ke kāheʻe i kō ʻapu … At Hoakakalani, land of a multitude of gods
Ke ola lā, ua ola iā kini akua, iā Pele … There is health from the multitude of gods and from Pele
Ua ola loa nō ē … Complete health
[Call Number: MS SC Roberts 3.7, Pg. 69b-70a]
Mele are an invaluable primary resource for Hawaiian scholarship and cultural connection. The Welo Hou: Building Connections to the Roberts Mele Collection project, funded in part by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, will improve the digitization, indexing, and accessibility of a unique and treasured collection of mele dating from pre-Western contact to the early 1900s. This pilot project will serve as a model for improved access to and increased engagement with the Bishop Museum Library & Archives’ other mele collections.
Welo Hou, or to unfurl once again, aims to provide more opportunities for researchers of all levels of Hawaiian language and cultural fluency to access the Roberts Collection with ease, and honors the connections between Hawaiian voices of the past and our community of the present.