It will be mixed, this taro of ours
And of Ku-of-joint-action.
Firewood will be chopped
The imu lighted,
The pig strangled,
The bristles of the pig singed off,
The pig disemboweled,
And our pig baked in the imu,
When the pig is cooked it will be cut up;
Men, women and children will eat
Of the pig, of the poi, of our taro
The mighty planter’s and yours,
The Hawaiian Islands supported some edible land animals, such as birds and bats, when first settled. The settlers brought with them, however, domesticated land animals – pigs, dogs and chickens – that they carefully bred and raised as a supplementary food source. (NPS)
“This is the most extraordinary Hog Island we ever met with, take them for Number and size – in the course of this fore Noon my People have purchasʼd on board here 70 head weighing upon an average at least a 100 lb apiece.” (Charles Clerke, Commander of the Cook, off Kauaʻi, February 2, 1779; Mitchell)
“The Natives bring onboard so many Hogs we know not what to do with them, so are obligʻd to give up that trade for the present.” (Clerke; Mitchell)
“We could not indeed but admire the laudable ingenuity of these people in cultivating their soil with so much economy. The indefatigable labor in making these little fields in so rugged a situation, the care and industry with which they were transplanted, watered and kept in order, surpassed anything of the kind we had ever seen before.”
“It showed in a conspicuous manner the ingenuity of the inhabitants in modifying their husbandry to different situations of soil and exposure, and with no small degree of pleasure we here beheld their labor rewarded with productive crops. (Menzies; with Vancouver 1792-94)
These included taro, yams and breadfruit (not successfully transplanted until the 1200s); fiber plants like the paper mulberry whose bark could be manufactured into clothing and decorative items; medicinal plants of many varieties; and a few domesticated pigs, dogs and fowl.
However, careful tending of these food plants and domesticated animals for several years would have been necessary before they could provide an adequate food supply. (NPS) The linkage between pig husbandry and agricultural production is widespread in the Pacific. (Kirch)
Pigs were raised in great numbers for food and for religious and ceremonial purposes; they were used chiefly in important feasts (ʻaha ʻāina] or as offerings in religious rituals, as well as tribute from the makaʻāinana (commoners) to their chiefs. (Kirch)
Pua‘a (Pigs) constituted the male-associated, ‘higher’ category of sacrifice animal; dogs too had their role as offerings to the female deities. (Kirch)
Pigs were cooked and offered in large numbers at the dedication of important temples (heiau.) The gods which were honored or propitiated at these ceremonies were believed to accept the essence of the pork and, in most cases, the flesh was eaten by the chiefs and priests when the ritual was over. (Mitchell)
It was the pig that was the more highly valued item, most suitable for Hoʻokupu tribute to the chiefs and as sacrificial offerings from the chiefs to the gods. (Kirch)
More chiefs than commoners consumed pork and dog meat, the right to the fattest and largest number of pigs and dogs being a privilege of rank.
Taboos in eating (ʻai kapu) required that pork be restricted to men and to boys of 10 or 11 years who were old enough to eat in the menʼs eating house (hale mua).
Pigs to be cooked for food and for ceremonial offerings were killed by strangling. Most of the hair and bristles were singed off by dragging the carcass over rough hot stones. Any remaining hair was removed by scraping the skin with a rough lava stone (pōhaku ʻānai puaʻa).
Chickens and dogs lived near dwellings. Pigs ranged more widely, rooting for food, but also living off sweet potato vine cuttings, taro leaves, sugarcane and garbage. Captain Cook and other European navigators later introduced goats, cattle, sheep and horses.
Pigs were free to roam about the village and its environs. Some women and children took piglets as pets. Stone walls (pā pōhaku) and picket fences (pā lāʻau) kept these animals from areas where they were not wanted.
Mature hogs were penned in stone-walled enclosures and fattened. They were fed cooked taro (kalo), sweet potatoes (ʻuala), yams (hoi), bananas (maiʻa) and breadfruit (ʻulu).
Some pigs escaped to the uplands and fed on kukui nuts, mountain apples (ʻōhiʻa ʻai) in season and the trunks of several kinds of ferns. From time to time these wild pigs came down from the forests and raided the gardens, particularly the sweet potato plots. In the wild the old boars developed long, curved ivory-like tusks (kuʻi puaʻa).
Mature hogs weighed a hundred pounds. They had lean bodies with long heads and small erect ears. The color of the bristles were all black (hiwa), striped (olomea), spotted (pūkoʻa) and combinations of these. Some pigs were hairless (hulu ʻole). Ornamental and useful articles were fashioned from bones and tusks of the pig.
A small bunch of stiff black and white bristles formed the hackle (hulu) of the bonito (aku) fishhook. Shafts of the leg bones were shaped into fish hooks.
The most ornamental of the products from hogs were the pairs of long, curved ivory-like boarsʼ tusks (kuʻi puaʻa) or (niho puaʻa). Bracelets (kupeʻe hoʻokalakala) were made by drilling matching holes in two places in from 19 to 24 full length tusks, each 4 or 5 inches long.
These holes accommodated the olonā cords which held the tusks lengthwise around the wrists. Each man might wear a pair of them while dancing. (Mitchell) (Lots of information here is from Kirch, Mitchell and NPS.)
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