The Bishop Collection of Curios.
One of the Most Interesting Sights In Honolulu Pleasantly Described.
Death seems to have played an important part in the ancient regime, as the kings and chiefs had the power of life and death over their subjects. Then too, the priesthood, or kahunas, exercised what is termed the “tabu,” which prescribed certain rules and regulations for the natives, any violation of which was punishable by death; for instance a chief placed “tabu” sticks at the entrance to his hut; that meant to one and all, “Do not enter or pass within the shadow of the tabu sticks under pain of death;” if a Hawaiian subject, and even a petty chief, violated this tabu, he was instantly put to death; supplication was of no avail. The power of the kahunas in their exercise of the tabu, was so great and the superstitious awe of the common native so intense, that its effects have not died out even in this day and age. The common natives are yet prone to believe in their kahunas, and believe that they have the power to pray them to death; in olden days, if an enemy obtained any part of the body of another, a hair, a part of the finger nail, spittle, or anything of the body itself, he would give it to a kahuna and ask him to pray the other one to death; with great ceremony the kahuna would perform certain mysterious functions over the hair, say strange words, offer it before the poison god, and then announce that he was praying the native to death; this being told to the native so great his superstitious fear, he would go to his hut and in reality become sick over the thought of the dread summons made by the kahuna, and in many cases they actually died of the fright thus given them; and to this day many of the natives place more faith in their kahunas than in the “haole” or foreign physicians. If the praying did not perform the evil work, then a piece of the poison god was steeped and the fluid given the sufferer, it is said, which, acting upon his heart, killed him. On every hand in the museum are the evidences of kahunaism and death. There are stones, peculiarly shaped, (like a gourd,) with a small neck; these stones were suspended from the low door of a grass house in such a way that the person entering after the trap was set, would probably be crushed by the fall of the stone. They are made from lava rock. Continue reading