This is an independent blog. Please note that I am nowhere near fluent, and that these are not translations, but merely works in progress. Please do comment if you come across misreads or anything else you think is important.
LAUHALA HATS SCARCE WHEN GILBERTESE LEAVE HONOLULU
Art of Hat Making is Falling Into Decadence Among the Hawaiians and Was Chief Industry Among the South Sea Islanders.
GILBERT ISLANDERS’ SETTLEMENT.
GILBERT ISLANDERS AT HOME.
With the departure of the Gilbert Islanders for their South Sea home in the British S. S. Isleworth, the art of native hat making is likely to fall into decadence. Strange as it may seem the majority of the native hats sold in Honolulu for many years past have been made by the Lewalewas who in turn were taught the art by the Hawaiians. Form the Island of Hawaii come the more expensive native hats, and the departure of the Gilbert Islanders will undoubtedly give an impetus to the art in Kona and Kohala.
In and around Honolulu there are but few Hawaiians who have the deft art at their fingers ends, and except among the older generations of natives, little about hat making is known. As with hat weaving, so with the making of mats. An old native woman at Waikiki is one of the few who can repair mats, and another in Manoa valley still manufactures mats, large and small. The present generation of Hawaiians has not added hat and mat weaving to its accomplishments.
A couple of years ago the Gilbert Islanders has a village on the naval reservation on the Waikiki side of the harbor channel. Camera fiends and brush artists found the village a picturesque attraction, where nearly all the women villagers manufactured the cheaper grade of hats which were sold here for $1 and $1.50.
The Honoluluans will miss the Gilbert Islanders from the streets on which they appeared barefooted and generally with about half a dozen of the cheap hats in their hands, going from one store to another in quest of a purchaser for the lot. When a tourist arrives in Honolulu about the first thing he or she does is to seek a curio store and invest in a native hat, and after adorning it with a flaring striped pugaree “do” the sights of the city. The hats have always an attraction for the newcomer. But few of the malihinis or even kamaainas have ever seen them made. Continue reading →
When the Hilo Ad Club visited Honolulu in Territorial Fair week, they all wore lauhala hats, which a few years ago were worn almost exclusively by Hawaii’s male citizens. Following up this re-introduction of the native woven Hawaiian headgear, J. Walter Doyle, who had charge of the publicity for the Fair, appeared on Honolulu’s streets with a widebrimmed papale, adorned with a pugaree.
Not a 15 years or more has the native-made lauhala hat been in the honored position as a part of the sartorial adornment of Honolulu’s men about town, but up to that time it held its own steadily against the encroachment of the straw sailor from Philadelphia and Troy and Camden, running a good second to the jaunty and serviceable Panama, then purchaseable at a reasonable price.
The increased duties on the real Panama have served to make the Panama a luxury as a part of men’s dress, while the lauhala, not fashionable enough to go with custom made serges and the creations of Broadway and State street finally went into the discard, despite its cool and shady qualities.
[Let’s bring it back! And who needs a pugaree when you can pair your hat with a nice lei…]
(Maui News, 7/4/1919, p. 1)
The Maui News, Twentieth Year, Number 1007, Page 1. July 4, 1919.
AN INTERESTING SOCIETY FORMED AT THE UNIVERSITY AT PALO ALTO—LEIS OF ROSES AND SCORE CARDS OF LAUHALA AT A CARD PARTY OF THOSE WHO HAVE LIVED IN THE ISLANDS.
STANFORD UNIVERSITY, April 13, 1905.—A number of Island people met on the evening of April 7, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Larnach, and formed what was named the “Hui Hawaii” which is intended to bring together the Hawaiians about Stanford University in a social way. It was decided to have this a most informal affair and not to choose any regular officer, but simply to have it made known at one meeting who is to entertain at the next one. Anyone who has been in the Islands is to be eligible to membership. Continue reading →
A question which has long puzzled the friends of the Hawaiian people has been how to provide, for the ones who wish to work, suitable occupations. Critics of the Hawaiian race have been free in their statements to the effect that the Hawaii is lazy and unprogressive, in utter forgetfulness of the fact that it takes more than a generation or two to outlive the old customs more especially when the vitality of a once healthy people has been sapped by the vices and evil productions of socalled civilizasion.
This attitude on the part of many whites and the importation of foreign goods has very nearly doomed to extinction many industries distinctively Hawaiian, but a determined effort is being made to revive at least some of them before they are forgotten entirely.
Perhaps among the most interesting of these is that of making Hawaiian hats and in this a fine start towards establishing a truely native industry has already been made.
The prices commanded by Panama and Filipino hats is such as to encourage those who are looking after the present attempt as there is no doubt that as good hats can be made by the Hawaiian women as any that come from the places mentioned. For these expensive hats however there is of course a limited demand and it is towards the production of grades for ordinary wear that attention has been directed.
First attempts to enlist Hawaiian women in the work were discouraging but after some time Theodore Richards and the Atherton Estate, recognizing the importance of the work, took it up in order to assist the lady who had the matter in hand.
“When Mr. Richards heard of the work he became interested and at once offered a work room at the Kauluwela lodgings, on Vineyard street,” she said this morning, “with out that we could have done nothing. There the women work on the hats and on the braids. Some of the original Hawaiian patterns for braids had disappeared entirely. Others were recalled by native women who remembered them from the early days. Others we managed to get from the other islands and one or two I designed. We have now thirty patterns in all.” Continue reading →
Here is something that is much sought after by the producers of sugar. Bags that are woven with strips [ko-ana] of bulrush [akaakai] or lauahala perhaps, to put brown sugar [ko-paa eleele] in and ship to Australia or America. The previous week, a schooner brought 15,000 bags of this type from New Zealand, and the haole traders greatly appreciated them. The length of the bags are 33 inches, and 17 inches wide. If bags like these are woven here at a reasonable price, and a thousand are made, they will be sold out in a year. Continue reading →
Kona District to Supply Lauhala Articles to Hawaiian Village At Waikiki
George P. Mossman, of the Hawaiian Village at Waikiki, who has been spending some time on the Big Island, has succeeded in making arrangements through which the Kona districts will supply the village with lauhala, mats and other articles.
Mr. Mossman reported that he found three grades of lauhala articles produced. the First grade, which is the cheaper grade, is turned out as a medium of exchange for which the family obtains clothing, groceries and other articles for home use. Continue reading →
Tourist Business In Hawaii Booms As Result Of Publicity
An influx of visitors to the Hawaiian islands during the past few years has revived many of the interesting traditions and practices of Old Hawaii.
This paradox was recently pointed out by Percy A. Swift, manager of the merchandise department of American Factors, Ltd., in a discussion of Hawaii’s tourist industry.
“An interesting sidelight of the travel business here has been the way it has encouraged Island customs and activities,” he said. “The nourishing influence of tourist interest has given added impetus to the lei tradition, for example; and it has revived native sports such as surfing and outrigger canoe riding, which were on the point of dying out 15 years ago.” Continue reading →
Baltimore is headquarters for the finest grade of straw braids for hats for men and boys. Even lauhala from Hawaii is sent to Baltimore to be sewn into hats that bring high prices in the cities on the mainland. We have the genuine Baltimore braids in the straws we sell. Also we have the gigh standard Panama hats, woven in the Canal Zone and sewn and finished by Christy in London.
(Maui News, 12/2/1911, p. 7)
Maui News, Volume XVIII, Number 41, Page 7. December 2, 1911.
It seems that the Museum is having an exhibit on weaving starting the end of this week. Maybe go check it out if you are on Oahu.
The beauty and significance of hala is woven throughout our history and throughout this exhibit. In ancient times, the sails of voyaging canoes were plaited of hala, and utilitarian hala baskets and mats were commonplace. The introduction of foreign items that replaced Hawaiʻi-made mats and baskets encouraged weavers to further their creativity, leading to a distinctive and truly exquisite Hawaiian style of lau hala hats that are coveted and treasured as fine art.