In this volume, Kamakau examines the material culture of his ancestors, with a particular eye on the customs of the common people. He describes the cultivation of food and other plants used by the Hawaiians, such as ʻolona for nets and rope, and hue ʻawaʻawa (bitter gourds) for containers. The book documents the rich Hawaiian tradition of fish farming, as well as the elaborate rituals of canoe making, kapa (bark cloth) making, and house construction. The accounts bring to light both technical detail and Hawaiian philosophy.
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