My involvement with kapa was originally conceived to understand how cultural losses affect identity. The concept has grown into wondering how cultural losses could be restored. Like data embedded in memory on a computer hard drive, facts are retrieved and displayed to inform about that which was once hidden. On a larger scale, I wonder, can communities come together as individuals, and gather their memories to reconstruct parts of culture that was lost? Browse archives and artifacts so they can piece together their collective past to reconstruct and revive a culture?
Kapa is one of the most recognized symbols of Hawai’i. It is so much more than an ancient relic and a treasure from the past. As I delve into my own kapa practice, including the associated tools and implements, it is giving me a chance to go deeper into the ingenuity of this ancient work. The legacy of kapa designs and connections to Polynesian migrations and history are gifts of knowledge for contemporary kapa makers in Hawai’i.
Hawaiian kapa has a reputation throughout Polynesia as the finest in the region. With a lack of practitioners for more than a century, it was nearly forgotten in extinction…lying behind glass cases in museums around the world like a dead iconic symbol…a metaphor for the cultural losses in Hawaiian experience spanning more than a hundred years. Today, kapa is being revived as tangible evidence of my heritage and it lives! It connects me to the roots of my kupuna – my ancestors – as I represent them in this modern world…
I am a friend/web manager for Dalani Tanahay who owns Kapa Hawaii. We were wondering about a joint venture or even adding a link from our web site to yours. Let me know what you think about that. Aunty Dalani will be at Merrie Monarch for the next week but I communicate with her regularly! Mahalo nui!
Aloha e Andria, hey sounds interesting! Anything we can do to help keep kapa alive! Imua!
Thanks for dropping by! I knew nothing of kapa at all. Nice to see someone working to keep the traditions going. They’ll prove useful later, I think. Best wishes.
Thanks for the encouragement Jason! Kapa was extinct as a traditional practice for more than 100 years! Piecing back the practice is a trial and error endeavor and well worth it for the revival of the art form can be a metaphor of sorts for the revival and perpetuation of the Hawaiian people. Although we probably won’t be wearing kapa garments or sleep with kapa blankets today, we can still learn so much from the many steps involved with making kapa such as stewardship of the land, respect for our ancestors, and the importance of living our culture and using our language. Mahalo nui. Thank you so much.
I was looking at your post on Kapaau. My great great grandfather lived there way back in 1900. Where did you get that old picture of the Kamehameha statue (1908)? I would love to look at that old book.
Thanks and Aloha,
Here is the website where I got the photo. My family is also from Kapaau. What is your great great grandfather’s name?
I came across a photo on your site of kapa making tools and am interested in licensing its use at a new resort being built on Oahu. My firm is designing the guest collateral for the property. Would you please reply offline with your contact info, so I may tell you more and hopefully we can make arrangements with whoever owns the image. Much appreciated.
Aloha e Doug. Which photo are you commenting about and I can tell you who it belongs to. Would love to spread the knowledge of kapa. Mahalo nui. ~Red Nalu