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History of Kukui - History

History of Kukui - History

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A former name retained.

(t. 677; 1. 174'; b. 30'; dr. 12'6")

Kukui (lighthouse tender) was acquired from the Lighthouse Service by an Executive Order of 11 April 1917, She operated out of Pearl Harbor in the 14th Naval District for the entire period she was under naval jurisdiction. Kuktui was returned to the Lighthouse Service under an Executive Order of I July 1919.

Aleurites moluccanus

Aleurites moluccanus, the candlenut, is a flowering tree in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, also known as candleberry, Indian walnut, kemiri, varnish tree, nuez de la India, buah keras, godou, kukui nut tree, and Kekuna tree.

Aleurites javanicus Gand.
Aleurites moluccana [3]
Aleurites pentaphyllus Wall. ex Langeron
Aleurites remyi Sherff
Aleurites trilobus J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
Jatropha moluccana L. [4]

History of Kukui tree

Several factors recommend using the shade of the kukui tree to unobstructed advantage. Since the tree produces nuts or seeds that may cause litter in bedding plants, it is best to use them for shade in a seating or picnic area. Their surface roots can get large and the branches are brittle and break easily, also falling to the ground below. Natives say all parts of the tree can be useful and utilized for many purposes, from the leaves, to flowers, to fruits and nuts and even to roots.

Leaves also fall year round but can be used as part of a mulch or compost mix. For best access and to reduce unnecessary maintenance, avoid planting small bedding plants at the base. The light wood of the trunk has been used for canoes and for fishing floats. The inner bark makes a reddish brown dye that is used for tapa cloth dyeing and the burned seeds are useful for tattoo coloring. The leaves and the lightly fragrant white flowers are often used in lei, as are the inch-round nuts or seeds. The hard nuts are sometimes rough sanded revealing the natural grooves and gray or brown coloration.

Today they are frequently polished to a black patina to make beautiful necklaces and bracelets. History has it that Kukui was brought in to Hawaii thousands of years go by Polynesian travelers, who cruised to establish trading relations. The ancient voyagers brought along with their canoes products and plants that could be of great aid and benefits to them and to the people they would trade with. Now, there are still just a few skin care companies focusing at Kukui as an organic skin care ingredient. Those few are able to produce organic skin care products that make skin smooth, clear and glowing.

The kukui nut oil was not only used on handmade bowls, but also on Koa tree canoes , and surfboards. The kukui nut oil was also used to make the koa wood canoes and surfboards waterproof. The nuts and oil of the kukui can be toxic in large doses but small amounts provide a pleasant taste treat to culinary endeavors.

Hana History Timeline

Carbon dating of ruins in the Kipahulu area of Hana establishes it as one of the first areas of Polynesian settlement on the island of Maui. Over the next 300 years the island would become populated throughout the low lying areas with villages and rulers who were independent of each other.

Maui Chief Pi’ilani rules Hana in a time of peace and prosperity. He orders the building of a road system circling the island, thus uniting the entire island. Hana’s Pi’ilani Heiau is built which is the largest Hawaiian Temple in the island group and can be visited today.

Kalani’opu’u, Moi (king) of the Big Island, captured and held power over Hana. Eventually, Maui King Kahekili surrounded Hana and forced the Big Island chiefs to retreat to defenses on Ka’uiki Hill. Kahekili defeated them by stopping all freshwater flow to the hill. The Ali’i (chiefs) escaped, returning to the Big Island but the remaining villagers are slaughtered.

Future Queen Ka’ahumanu was born in a cave at Ka’uiki Hill in Hana. She became King Kamehameha’s favorite wife at age 16 and largely responsible for the abolition of the Kapu System.

Captain Cook and his two ships anchored in what is today’s Kahului Bay and meet with Maui’s King Kahekili. Days later while sailing along Hana’s coastline his ships are met by King Kalani’opu’u and his nephew Kamehameha who approached in royal double hulled canoes. Kamehameha spends the night on the ship studying the English ship and it’s armaments. The following day the ships sail on to the Big Island.

Kukui Nut Lei, More Than a Hawaiian Souvenir

It’s easy to spot a kukui nut tree in Hawaii just look for the canopy of shimmering silvery-green leaves, and you’ll know what we’re talking about. They glisten under gentle morning rays, swaying this way and that, and bring us back in time, reminding us of Old Hawaii.

Ancient Hawaiians used the nuts of the tree for spiritual, medicinal and navigational purposes however, the most common usage was for light. When strung in a row on a palm-leaf midrib and lit, the nuts looked very much like a candle. In fact, this is how the tree got its Hawaiian name, which means “light” or “lamp.” In English, it’s more commonly called the candlenut tree.

Today, kukui nut lei has become a symbol of a Hawaiian vacation, thanks to tourism advertisements and popular media. Tourists and tour guides often wear them, as they’re easily acquired and quite affordable. You can get the lei from gift shops and most street-side vendors in Hawaii.

This was not the case in ancient times, however, because only royalty were allowed to wear these lei made of sleek black nuts. It was a way to show the alii‘s social status, as well as honor Lono, god of agriculture, peace and fertility. In fact, Hawaiians consider kukui to be the kino lau, or physical manifestation, of Lono, and it’s because of this that kukui trees would be most abundant during times of harvest.

This Polynesian-introduced plant also honors the Oahu pig god, Kamapuaa. If you look closely at the shape of the tree’s leaf, then you’ll notice it resembles the face of a boar. In elementary, I remember tracing the kukui leaf on paper and making pig masks out of them. This could be a fun outdoor activity if you’re traveling with kids. The trees can be found growing all over the islands, usually at the base of mountains.

Unlike fresh flower lei, the kukui nut lei will last forever. You can bring them home with you as a reminder of your trip to the islands but most importantly, as a reminder of its history and significance to the Hawaiian culture.

History of Kukui - History

Images: The copperline engravings of the Polynesians originated from sketches done by european artists visiting various islands in the South Pacific during the early 1800's.

Queen Kamamalu had a tattoo applied to her tongue as an expression of her deep grief when her mother-in-law died in the 1820s. Missionary William Ellis watched the procedure, commenting to the queen that she must be undergoing great pain. The queen replied, He eha nui no, he nui roa ra ku‘u aroha. (Great pain indeed, greater is my affection.)

Early explorers found that both men and women wore tattoos in old Hawai‘i for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the tattoos were purely decorative. Jacques Arago, who visited the Islands in 1819 as a draftsman with the Freycinet expedition, noted that some men were heavily tattooed on only one side of their bodies. He wrote, They looked like men half burnt, or daubed with ink, from the top of the head to the sole of the foot. Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau noted that this solid black tattooing was called pahupahu. It was commonly applied to warriors in the Marquesas as a disguise, and it is thought that such tattooing may have set apart Hawaiian warriors as well.

A Man from Noukahiwa bearing designs of early Polynesian body art.

Oral traditions tell of warriors defeated in battle who were taken prisoner, then beaten and tattooed. As a final indignity, their eyelids were turned up and tattooed on the inside, called maka uhi. Sometimes outcasts born into the kauwa (slave) class were permanently marked with a curved line above the bridge of the nose, or a circular spot in the middle of the forehead, with curved lines like brackets on either side of the eyes.

Tattooing was an art unknown in the western world prior to Captain Cook’s first voyage through Polynesia. The word tattoo is one of only a few words used internationally that have a Polynesian origin coming from the word tatau used in Tahiti, Tonga, and Samoa. In Hawai‘i the word became kakau.

A Man named Mokua. Mokua was the personal guide for the Reverand William Ellis who was an early missionary in Hawaii. Ellis wrote extensively of his travels through Hawaii.

Interestingly, tattoo designs are thought to supply one more clue to the origin of the Polynesian peoples, as they bear close resemblance to the geometrical designs found on Lapita pottery. The Lapita people originated in Melanesia and Southeast Asia about 3,000 B.C., and early Lapita voyagers reached Tonga about 1,300 B.C., later settling Samoa and eastward into the Pacific. Shards of pottery they carried with them have been found throughout the Pacific, pottery whose curvilinear and rectilinear shapes, spirals, chevrons and interlocking elements are so similar to Polynesian tattoo designs, historians are certain there was an ancient connection. Even stylized masks and sea creatures appeared on Lapita pottery, as it did in early Polynesian tattoo forms.

Other Hawaiian tattoo designs might depict squares, triangles, crescents and figures of ‘aumakua (personal gods), such as the lizard or shark. As recently as 1923, publisher Lorin Thurston told of seeing a woman with a row of triangular dots around her ankle as a charm against sharks, applied because a legend tells of a woman who was bitten by her ‘aumakua, a shark. When the woman cried out that he was supposed to protect her, the shark let her go and replied, I will not make that mistake again, for I will see the marks on your ankle.

After Western contact, tattoo designs evolved to include more fanciful shapes such as figures of birds, goats, fans, guns, etc. When King Kamehameha died, many Hawaiians had Kamehameha, 1819 tattooed on themselves to show their respect for the great king.

Men from Noukahiwa bearing designs of early Polynesian body art.

Tattoos were applied with needles, sometimes made of beaks and claws of birds, but more often made of the knife-like barbs on the sides of the tails of certain fish, such as palani, kala and pualu. Some bones were split to form double pointed needles. Some were grooved from the base to the point of the barb with the dull upper end wrapped in fiber to hold ink in reserve. Needles could be bound together to form multi-points when large areas were to be covered with designs. Some needles were attached to wooden handles.

Ink was made by several methods. Some plants produce a highly acidic juice, which could be used for tattoos marking the death of a loved one, that would last six months to a year. If permanent tattoos were desired, an intense black ink would be made of the burned soot of the kukui nut. Arago noted in 1819 that kukui soot was mixed with juice from coconuts and sugar cane to attain a workable consistency. Fish bones charred with kukui oil and burning sandalwood chips might also be pounded into ash and added to the juice from the root of a plant called naneleau to make a pigment for tattooing.

In his journal, Arago described the process of applying a tattoo: They fix the bone of some bird to a stick, slit the bone in the middle, so as to give it two or three points, which they dip in a black colour. they apply these points to the part to be tattooed, and then they strike gently on the stick, to which the bone is attached, with a wand, two feet in length. Moli (tattoo needles) dating from 1200 to 1300 were discovered in a shelter near Hanauma Bay on Oahu in 1958, but such artifacts are extremely rare.

Historians have determined that anyone could have a tattoo, but often it was the more affluent who were the most extensively adorned, possibly because a skilled tattoo master had to be paid, and poor people could not afford his services. Hula dancers, both men and women were usually generously tattooed. Women often had tattoos on their fingers, hands, and wrists and frequently wore band-type decorations on their ankles and lower calves. Queen Ka‘ahumanu was known to be tattooed on her legs, the palm of her left hand and her tongue. Palm tattoos have been recovered on mummified remains.

Jacques Arago wrote (The women) make drawings of necklaces and garters on the skin in a manner really wonderful their other devises consist of the horns, helmets, muskets, rings, but more particularly fans and goats. Those of the men were muskets, cannon, goats and dominos together with the name of Tammeahmah (Kamehameha), and the day of his death.

Hawaiian tattoos were applied under strict religious rules. It was an art attended by ritualistic ceremony, and often the designs chosen had kaona, or hidden meaning and power. Today, with a resurgence of Hawaiian pride, tattoos are becoming increasingly common. It’s one of the few ancient art forms that is truly Polynesian in origin which has spread throughout the world.

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The history of lei making in Hawaii began when the Polynesians came to the islands and brought with them their traditions for adorning themselves with local vines and flowers. To honor their Gods, they made wreaths and arranged local plants on strings to decorate themselves. For their travels to these new and luscious islands, they brought with them many of the plants they needed for daily life. There were plants for medicinal use, plants for food and ginger plants that they brought for their sweet scent and their perfect use as a personal adornment.

As the Hawaiian islands were settled, from about 750 A.D. through the 14th century, the leis being used in the Polynesian region were quite similar to each other. There were the fragrant lei that were temporary because of their use of plants. But, there were many other items on these islands that could be fashioned into beautiful adornments. These includes the hala and maile lei. There were also lei that were nonperishable varieties that were not made from plants. These included the niho palaoa which was made of the bones of walruses and whales, the pupu which was made from shells and the hulu manu which was made from feathers.

Once the long voyages across the ocean ended and the Hawaiians were settled into their tropical land, they became culturally isolated. From the 1300s until 1778, they developed their own, unique culture and traditions that included the richest variety of leis that could be found in Polynesia. By fusing their island lifestyle with their sacred rituals and the nature that was so present around them, they created lei that were worn for virtually every occasion. The Lei were worn for everyday tasks, for celebrations and were worn by both commoners (maka`ainana) and chiefs (ali`i) alike.

Lei History

Some call it a gift. Others, a symbol. At Aloha Island Lei, we simply call it a tradition. The history of the Hawaiian lei dates back to the first Polynesian settlers, who introduced the lei to the Hawaiian Islands as a sentiment of love, friendship, celebration and in honor of the Hawaiian Gods.

It is said that ancient Hawaiians adorned themselves in variations of braided leafs, flowers, feathers, shells, seeds and nuts to differentiate the various classes of royalty. The most significant of all was the Maile lei, which was used as peace offerings between battling chiefs and on sacred events such as weddings, ceremonies and rituals.

Crafted by hand and carefully weaved, these fragrant beauties are treasured by all and are now worn for just about any occasion. Today, popular events like Lei Day, which is celebrated on the 1 st of each May, honors lei making and its customs with lei contests, traditional hula and Hawaiian music. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival, a week long celebration, is a visual treat showcasing various leis worn by acclaimed halau hula from across the islands.

Legends say if a departing visitor tossed their lei into the ocean and it floated back to shore, the person would someday return. We welcome you to discover and share the Aloha spirit through our collection of fresh Hawaiian leis.

History of Kukui - History


The Kukui or Candlenut tree is the state tree of Hawaii. In Hawaii, the tree has a spiritual significance of hope and renewal. As the most common of Hawaii’s forest trees, the kukui tree can grow up to 80 feet tall. Because of its fragrant white flowers, and of course its colorful history, the kukui tree is a beautiful symbol of Hawaii. Originally reserved for royalty in ancient times, the kukui nut was worn by the reigning chiefs and Kings of Hawaii, known as Ali‘I The kukui nut oil was not only used on handmade bowls, but also on Koa tree canoes, and surfboards.

Long valued by the early Hawaiians, kukui was brought to the islands more than a thousand years ago by migrating Polynesians. For these early people, the tree was one of incredible bounty: canoes were carved from its buoyant trunks, and its oily seeds were strung together and burned as a sort of primitive candle. Oil pressed from nuts was also burned in stone lamps, with the residual material, or cake, being used to feed cattle and for crop fertilization. Dyes produced by crushing the covering of the nuts was used in tattooing, and a dye made from the root became a black paint for canoes. Two ancient uses of the kukui continue as favorites today: a relish, popular at luaus and other celebrations, is made from the roasted and chopped nuts of the kukui and the festive leis that greet thousands of visitors to Hawaii every year are made of beaded kukui nuts.

Kukui Nut: What’s It All About?

First brought to the islands by Polynesian explorers from Southeast Asia, Aleurites moluccana, or kukui, is the state tree of Hawaii. With light green foliage covered in a silvery-white powder, these trees can grow to a height of 80 feet, and they have beautiful and fragrant white flowers. Because the trees and their products are so versatile, kukui trees held an important place in the religion and daily lives of the ancients.

In older times, only royalty were allowed kukui nut leis, and the leis were cherished. Today, they are often given to arriving guests, and many people have added the candlenut leis, bracelets and anklets to their jewelry wardrobes. The bracelets are often shared during the exchange of wedding vows to represent the joining of the two spiritual lights of the bride and groom into a single, holy union.

Kukui nuts were a source of light in ancient times, as well. Originally, the nuts were skewered on wicks made from frond leaves from coconut palms, stuck into the ground or a pot of dirt or sand, and lit one by one. As they provided light, they also helped measure the passage of time. Later, the oils were extracted and burned in lamps.

Spiritually, the kukui trees were once held to be the physical form of Kamapua’a, the pig god of the island culture. The kukui ano ano, or kukui leis, were the first prayer beds used by the Hawaiian people, and they represent light, hope and renewal.

In addition to leis, spiritual symbolism and contemporary jewelry, the kukui nuts may be roasted, pounded and mixed with salt and chili peppers to make inamona, a delicious relish-like condiment. The oils were also used often as medicines and tonics for health. Today, the oils are often used as a skin moisturizer that creates a protective layer on dry skin that allows the area to heal naturally.

The oils and ashes of the burned nuts were used to dye tapa cloth and to polish and waterproof wooden bowls, as well as canoes and surfboards made from koa wood. Crushed nuts can be used to polish kukui nut leis, too.

To learn more about kukui nuts and other Hawaiian traditions, contact us.

Watch the video: KUKUI IS WEIRD (August 2022).