Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ancient Hawaiian Fishing Practices

Being a fisherman, a poe lawaia, in old Hawai'i was an honorable profession, one that grandparents handed down to the boys in the family.

With a working knowledge of fishing areas and seasons and an array of implements, a fisherman supplied his family or his ali'i (Royalty, King ) with fish and shellfish from streams, fishponds, reefs and the Ocean. Sometimes the catch was so huge, they gave the left over fish to the Pigs and dogs, and/or dried it for food and fuel for the fire.

Those fishermen that could supply large amounts of fish from ponds or ocean canoes were believed to possess much "mana" or supernatural power, to attract fish at will or make them multiply.

Successful fishing implements, such as hooks or cowry shell lures became famous and were prized, and passed down to the next generation.

For deep-sea fishing, many ingenious fishing methods were used. Sometimes the lures were made up of shiny puau shells and pigs hair, and were used to catch Aku from canoes, much like the modern fishermen of today. No compasses as we know them were available to the hawaiian fisherman, yet by reading the stars, watching the flying birds, the shape and color of clouds, the ancient hawaiian fisherman could guide his canoe or fleet through thousands of miles of open ocean.

Fishing was truly an art form, yet it was a necessity for survival.

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