VI – Lonopuha; Or, Origin of the Art of Healing in Hawaii

Priest of the Sandwich Islands

Translated by Thos. G. Thrum

During the time that Milu was residing at Waipio, Hawaii, the year of which is unknown, there came to these shores a number of people, with their wives, from that vague foreign land, Kahiki. But they were all of godly kind (ano akua nae), it is said, and drew attention as they journeyed from place to place. They arrived first at Niihau, and from there they travelled through all the islands. At Hawaii they landed at the south side, thence to Puna, Hilo, and settled at Kukuihaele, Hamakua, just above Waipio.

On every island they visited there appeared various diseases, and many deaths resulted, so that it was said this was their doings, among the chiefs and people. The diseases that followed in their train were chills, fevers, headache, pani, and so on.

These are the names of some of these people: Kaalaenuiahina, Kahuilaokalani, Kaneikaulanaula, besides others. They brought death, but one Kamakanuiahailono followed after them with healing powers. This was perhaps the origin of sickness and the art of healing with medicines in Hawaii.

As has been said, diseases settled on the different islands like an epidemic, and the practice of medicine ensued, for Kamakanuiahailono followed them in their journeyings. He arrived at Kau, stopping at Kiolakaa, on the west side of Waiohinu, where a great multitude of people were residing, and Lono was their chief. The stranger sat on a certain hill, where many of the people visited him, for the reason that he was a newcomer, a custom that is continued to this day. While there he noticed the redness of skin of a certain one of them, and remarked, “Oh, the redness of skin of that man!”

The people replied, “Oh, that is Lono, the chief of this land, and he is a farmer.”

He again spoke, asserting that his sickness was very great; for through the redness of the skin he knew him to be a sick man.

They again replied that he was a healthy man, “but you consider him very sick.” He then left the residents and set out on his journey.

Some of those who heard his remarks ran and told the chief the strange words, “that he was a very sick man.” On hearing this, Lono raised up his oo (digger) and said, “Here I am, without any sign of disease, and yet I am sick.” And as he brought down his oo with considerable force, it struck his foot and pierced it through, causing the blood to flow freely, so that he fell and fainted away. At this, one of the men seized a pig and ran after the stranger, who, hearing the pig squealing, looked behind him and saw the man running with it; and as he neared him he dropped it before him, and told him of Lono’s misfortune, Kamakanuiahailono then returned, gathering on the way the young popolo seeds and its tender leaves in his garment (kihei). When he arrived at the place where the wounded man was lying he asked for some salt, which he took and pounded together with the popolo and placed it with a cocoanut covering on the wound. From then till night the flowing of the blood ceased. After two or three weeks had elapsed he again took his departure.

While he was leisurely journeying, some one breathing heavily approached him in the rear, and, turning around, there was the chief, and he asked him: “What is it, Lono, and where are you going?”

Lono replied, “You healed me; therefore, as soon as you had departed I immediately consulted with my successors, and have resigned my offices to them, so that they will have control over all. As for myself, I followed after you, that you might teach me the art of healing.”

The kahuna lapaau (medical priest) then said, “Open your mouth.” When Lono opened his mouth, the kahuna spat into it,1 by which he would become proficient in the calling he had chosen, and in which he eventually became, in fact, very skilful.

As they travelled, he instructed Lono (on account of the accident to his foot he was called Lonopuha) in the various diseases, and the different medicines for the proper treatment of each. They journeyed through Kau, Puna, and Hilo, thence onward to Hamakua as far as Kukuihaele. Prior to their arrival there, Kamakanuiahailono said to Lonopuha, “It is better that we reside apart, lest your healing practice do not succeed; but you settle elsewhere, so as to gain recognition from your own skill.”

For this reason, Lonopuha went on farther and located in Waimanu, and there practised the art of healing. On account of his labors here, he became famous as a skilful healer, which fame Kamakanuiahailono and others heard of at Kukuihaele; but he never revealed to Kaalaenuiahina ma (company) of his teaching of Lonopuha, through which he became celebrated. It so happened that Kaalaenuiahina ma were seeking an occasion to cause Milu’s death, and he was becoming sickly through their evil efforts.

When Milu heard of the fame of Lonopuha as a skilful healer, because of those who were afflicted with disease and would have died but for his treatment, he sent his messenger after him. On arriving at Milu’s house, Lonopuha examined and felt of him, and then said, “You will have no sickness, provided you be obedient to my teachings.” He then exercised his art, and under his medical treatment Milu recovered.

Lonopuha then said to him: “I have treated you, and you are well of the internal ailments you suffered under, and only that from without remains. Now, you must build a house of leaves and dwell therein in quietness for a few weeks, to recuperate.” These houses are called pipipi, such being the place to which invalids are moved for convalescent treatment unless something unforeseen should occur.

Upon Milu’s removal thereto, Lonopuha advised him as follows: “O King! you are to dwell in this house according to the length of time directed, in perfect quietness; and should the excitement of sports with attendant loud cheering prevail here, I warn you against these as omens of evil for your death; and I advise you not to loosen the ti leaves of your house to peep out to see the cause, for on the very day you do so, that day you will perish.”

Some two weeks had scarcely passed since the King had been confined in accordance with the kahuna’s instructions, when noises from various directions in proximity to the King’s dwelling were heard, but he regarded the advice of the priest all that day. The cause of the commotion was the appearance of two birds playing in the air, which so excited the people that they kept cheering them all that day.

Three weeks had almost passed when loud cheering was again heard in Waipio, caused by a large bird decorated with very beautiful feathers, which flew out from the clouds and soared proudly over the palis (precipices) of Koaekea and Kaholokuaiwa, and poised gracefully over the people; therefore, they cheered as they pursued it here and there. Milu was much worried thereby, and became so impatient that he could no longer regard the priest’s caution; so he lifted some of the ti leaves of his house to look out at the bird, when instantly it made a thrust at him, striking him under the armpit, whereby his life was taken and he was dead (lilo ai kona ola a make iho la).

The priest saw the bird flying with the liver of Milu; therefore, he followed after it. When it saw that it was pursued, it immediately entered into a sunken rock just above the base of the precipice of Koaekea. As he reached the place, the blood was spattered around where the bird had entered. Taking a piece of garment (pahoola), he soaked it with the blood and returned and placed it in the opening in the body of the dead King and poured healing medicine on the wound, whereby Milu recovered. And the place where the bird entered with Milu’s liver has ever since been called Keakeomilu (the liver of Milu).

A long while afterward, when this death of the King was as nothing (i mea ole), and he recovered as formerly, the priest refrained not from warning him, saying: “You have escaped from this death; there remains for you one other.”

After Milu became convalescent from his recent serious experience, a few months perhaps had elapsed, when the surf at Waipio became very high and was breaking heavily on the beach. This naturally caused much commotion and excitement among the people, as the numerous surf-riders, participating in the sport, would land upon the beach on their surf-boards. Continuous cheering prevailed, and the hilarity rendered Milu so impatient at the restraint put upon him by the priest that he forsook his wise counsel and joined in the exhilarating sport.

Seizing a surf-board he swam out some distance to the selected spot for suitable surfs. Here he let the first and second combers pass him; but watching his opportunity he started with the momentum of the heavier third comber, catching the crest just right. Quartering on the rear of his board, he rode in with majestic swiftness, and landed nicely on the beach amid the cheers and shouts of the people. He then repeated the venture and was riding in as successfully, when, in a moment of careless abandon, at the place where the surfs finish as they break on the beach, he was thrust under and suddenly disappeared, while the surf-board flew from under and was thrown violently upon the shore. The people in amazement beheld the event, and wildly exclaimed: “Alas! Milu is dead! Milu is dead!” With sad wonderment they searched and watched in vain for his body. Thus was seen the result of repeated disobedience.


1 An initiatory act, as in the priesthood.

 


Thos. G. Thrum

 

Born: May 27, 1842, Newcastle, Australia
Died: May 21, 1932, Honolulu, Hawaii

Source: The Story of Hawaii and Its Builders, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Ltd. Territory of Hawaii, 1925
Author: Edited by George F. Nellist

THOMAS GEORGE THRUM, Pioneer Merchant. Thos. G. Thrum, who arrived in Honolulu
from Australia on May 16, 1853, at the age of eleven, is now one of the oldest
citizens of the Territory in point of residence and is widely known as an
historian of the islands. Although past the four score mark in age, he is
still actively engaged in literary work and is vice-president of the Hawaiian
News & Thrums, Ltd., stationery dealers.
Beginning his business career in 1855 in the store of John T. Waterhouse,
Mr. Thrum remained there for about a year, went cruising in a whaling ship and
returned to Hawaii in 1859. For a number of years he clerked in stores of
Honolulu and Hilo, later engaging in sugar cane culture at Kohala plantation,
Hawaii. In 1870 he returned to Honolulu, succeeding Black & Auld as owners of
a stationery and news business. He branched out as a publisher in 1875 when he
compiled Thrum’s “Hawaiian Annual,” a standard reference work which has since
made its appearance each year. In 1888, with J. J. Williams, Mr. Thrum started
the “Paradise of the Pacific,” a monthly which is still published, but under a
different management. He has prepared for publication “Ancient Hawaiian
Mythology.” He also edited and revised the valuable Fornander collection
of “Hawaiian Antiquities and Folk-lore,” completing the work in 1919 and is
the author of “Hawaiian Folk Tales,” published in 1907, “Stories of the
Menehunes,” and recently wrote a new series as “More Hawaiian Folk Tales.”
For many years Mr. Thrum has been interested in scientific research, touring
the islands of the Hawaiian group locating ancient heiaus (temples) and heiau
sites. He has found and listed 527 of these and is the author of a brief
history of notable temples, which was read as a paper before the Hawaiian
Historical Society at its annual meeting in 1924. Since 1921 he has been a
member of the Bishop Museum staff as associate in Hawaiian folklore.
Mr. Thrum was born at New Castle, N.S.W., Australia, May 27, 1842, the son
of Thomas Augustine and Elizabeth W. (McPhail) Thrum, who came to Hawaii in
the early 50’s. He was educated in Australia and Honolulu, and married Anna
Laura Brown (deceased) in San Francisco, Jan. 11, 1865. They were the parents
of four children, George Ernest A. Thrum (deceased), F. William, David F. and
Ella L. Thrum. Mr. Thrum is a member of Excelsior Lodge, I.O.O.F, and a
charter member of the Hawaiian Historical Society.

Link

Thrum’s Hawaiian Annual
Online Books
Traditional Hawaiian Medicine

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