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The Painted KingArt, Activism, and Authenticity in Hawaii$
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Glenn Wharton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834951

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834951.001.0001

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How People Think about Their Sculpture

How People Think about Their Sculpture

(p.76) 6 How People Think about Their Sculpture
The Painted King

Glenn Wharton

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter discusses how people in North Kohala think about their figurative sculptures. These sculptures are images of akua (spirits, divinities) and manifestations of natural phenomena. Some are freestanding monumental temple sculptures, some are akua kāʻai (mounted on top of supports). The residents consider these sculptures as receptacles of mana—“supernatural or divine power”—which is accumulated through prayers and offerings that followed carefully scripted kapu. On that note, the elaborate carving of kiʻi grabs the spirits' attention to inhabit the figures. Hence, the Kālai kiʻi, specially trained image carvers, create kiʻi under prescribed circumstances: the strict protocol for cutting down a tree for a new kiʻi, which includes chanting and human sacrifice.

Keywords:   North Kohala, figurative sculptures, akua kāʻai, mana, kapu, Kālai kiʻi

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