Friday, August 15, 2008

An Ancient Hawaiian Kitchen

Between the buildings in our condo complex are the ruins of a royal palace that once stood on this site. All along this beautiful stretch of coast for miles there were a variety of Hawaiian villages, royal residences, fish ponds for aquaculture, boat-launching docks, and sacred sites. On the hills where coffee plantations now stand, ancient Hawaiians cultivated taro and other plants. At the beach a little to the north were several temples to the gods that brought good surfing waves and to the gods of fishing.

According to the documentation on this archaeological site, ancient Hawaiian kings lived here from the 15th to the 19th century. It seems ironic to see such important sites between the swimming pool and the tennis courts -- and to realize how much was destroyed to build these buildings and many other hotels, condos, and a golf course along the coast.

The photos show the part of the complex that the king's men used for living and cooking. Buildings made from wood and plaited or woven leaves and reeds stood on top of the stone foundations. Some of the walls also functioned as defensive fortifications.

The building, as I mentioned, was the men's house. Polynesians -- especially Hawaiians -- believed that it was taboo for men and women to eat together. They ate different foods, especially different types of fish. Some foods were reserved exclusively for the kings, as well. Men and women cooked their meals separately. Women never handled the men's food. Infant boys began to eat with the men as soon as they were weaned.

The Hawaiians did not have any metal until contact with Europeans. (They may have been obtaining a small amount from driftwood with nails in it, from European ships, within a short time before contact.) They used shark fins and teeth for cutting and honing tools and implements, and made fishhooks and weapons from teeth and bones. Their cooking and food preparation utensils, like the foundations of the houses, were all made from volcanic rock and wood. I took the following photos of stone food-prep implements at the Lyman Museum in Hilo a few days ago.

1 comment:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Fascinating -- especially the part about men and women eating different foods. I wonder if we made our men cook all of their own meals today, what would they eat?