Chủ Nhật, 8 tháng 7, 2012

The explorer Captain James Cook who discovered Hawaii in 1778 loved the hula, but its sensuous connotations offended the sensibilities of the New England missionaries who arrived on the islands in the 1800s. They declared it “heathenish” and did their utmost to stamp it out.

Driven underground for 50 years, the hula eventually re-emerged in a much diminished form, this time approved by the island's moral arbiters. In place of their flowery leis and skimpy attire the gorgeous ladies were to be modest in their movements and each comely shape was confined in long-sleeved, high-necked Victorian dress. It just wasn't the same.

Fortunately the traditions and culture of the Hawaiians and other islanders in the south Pacific proved irrepresible and the flamboyant beauty of the hula is once more evident. Reinstated by “the Merrie Monarch”, King David Lalakaua, the hula in all its glory is today one of the compelling attractions of the Hawaiin islands, the Cook Island and other Polynesian islands.

An evening at the Old Lahaina Luau (a traditional Hawaiian feast) on the island of Maui invited a tantalizing glimpse into the Hawaiian culture. In a glorious setting right on the oean front, coconut palms laden with fruit, cast sharp etched silhouettes against the sky as a trio of musicians introduced us to that unique Hawaiian sound produced by the slack key guitar. The guitar was first used on the islands in the 19th century and the lilting melodies that we hear today are the ones that accompany the hula.

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Posted on Sunday 8th July, 2012

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