The Kumulipo: Chanting Power and Knowledge

Sunday, January 9, 2011: 9:10 AM
Room 303 (Hynes Convention Center)
Luukia Archer , University of Hawai'i-Leeward Community College, Pearl City, HI
The Kumulipo is a Hawaiian cosmogonic genealogy composed in chant/prayer form that traces the origin of all things from the source (kumu) of deep-sea darkness (lipo) to the birth of human kind.  This sacred work was last chanted for the Hawai'i island chief Kalaninui'īamamao, who lived during the 1700s, and was later compiled and published by his descendent King David Kalākaua, whose reign of the Kingdom of Hawai'i spanned from 1874-1891.  Within Hawaiian frameworks of thought, genealogies embody history, political power, social relationships, space and time.  As the only genealogical chant of its kind preserved in its entirety, the Kumulipo is an immeasurable wealth of knowledge regarding the establishment of order and structure in the universe and provides insight into Hawaiian epistemologies.  This paper analyzes the political, intellectual and spiritual implications of the chant's publication within the context of King Kal ākaua's broader agenda as a ruler merging his people's culture with the rapid modernization of his independent nation-state. 
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