Kainoa, Stuff We Love

Pilihonua Notecards

Movement has always been my creative outlet, but now that I’m back to dancing and we’re doing a lot of it, it was time to turn my attention toward reconnecting with my visual art-sy side. I’m in no way a designer, but I do dabble with this website, photography, and graphics.

To thank our hosts in Yurihama, we normally bring makana (gifts), which have historically ranged from chocolate covered macadamia nuts to anything related to Hawaiʻi. This time, instead of heading down to buy calendars, I decided to make one-of-kind cards. No small feat, considering I’ve been incredibly busy. Here’s the end product:

I used the following native plants in this batch :

  • Hala (Pandanus) – Most commonly used for weaving and plaiting, the word hala, is also defined as “passing”. Hala lei are still seen at occasions that mark rites of passage like graduation and funerals.
  • Ulu (Breadfruit) – Although other parts of the ulu can be used for its wood, sap, and leaves, the fruit is most known as a food. It was often used as a primary staple in some areas and even made into poi. The common definition for “ulu” is to grow.
  • Koa (Acacia) – This hard wood was and continues to be used in creating ceremonial items as well as seafaring craft like surfboards and wa’a (canoe). “Warrior” is another definition of koa.
  • Kukui (Candlenut) – Used for medicine,  food, and oil to burn for light.

I’ve used native plants to print ʻaʻahu (costuming) in hula, but we were always relegated to black or brown paint. As you can see, I went a little crazy with colors. I love the freshness of this new palette and they certainly put these prints in a more modern perspective.  The usefulness of these plants, even now in modern times, is still relevant.

I’ve coined this little project Pilihonua, being in kinship with ones surroundings. Using native plants that my ancestors relied upon makes me feel more connected to my culture and perhaps now our Japanese hosts can begin to understand that connection we Hawaiians also feel to our environment.