gArt of the Hulaf
What is one thing that stands out in most peoples' minds when they think of Hawaii? Most people would probably say the hula dance. The hula dance descended from, or can be traced to Polynesia and India. The Hula was a form of poetry for the Hawaiians in all of its sacred and ceremonial forms. In hula dancing, the hands are very important: they tell a story. However, more important are the chants. Chanting is an extension of speaking that started as a means of communicating to the gods. The hula can be performed with or without music, but not without the chant. Bamboo sticks, drums, and gourds, are some of the instruments that are played to support the chanting. The chants are very poetic and have many levels of meaning. They believe chanting is a very personal way of expressing feelings and thoughts on a higher level of communication. The topics of the chants may include warfare, death, sex, birth, chiefs, gods, the beauty of the island and water, or even surfing. This exotic culture was hidden from the world until 1778, when Captain James Cook and his men became the first westerners to discover the islands of Hawaii. When they arrived at Kaua'i, the islanders performed the hula dance as a way of greeting the strangers. Later in 1820, Christian missionaries from New England came to the islands, armed with the Bible and narrow-minded thoughts. They were shocked by the "heathenish" hula, and tried to abolish the dance. The missionaries eventually convinced the royalty, which had been converted to Christianity, to make the hula dance illegal. It was hard for the Hawaiians to retain their culture because the missionaries banned the Hawaiian language from the schools. However, the Hawaiians treasured their culture and dance, and did not let them die. In 1874, King David Kalakaua came to the throne. He is credited with returning the ancient hula dance to the people. European clad, he was known as the Merrie Monarch. He dined with prominent...
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