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VIDEO: Uhane Pohaku, The Spirit of the Stone

By Wendy Osher

“Ua lawa makou i ka pohaku, i ka ‘ai kamaha’o o ka ‘aina.”

We are satisfied with the stones, astonishing food of the land.

This line taken from the song Kaulana Na Pua voiced unhappiness at the takeover of the Hawaiian Kingdom.  A sadness so deep that the author finds satisfaction in stones for nourishment.

The words resonate in the hands of stone carver Hoaka Delos Reyes.  For him, there is depth in the stone and nourishment in knowing its spirit.

“The stone, for me, in regards to respecting it, is about what’s inside of the stone that you bring out.  It has a life of its own that gives life,” said Delos Reyes.

In old Hawaii, daily life was dependent on the pohaku for both prayer and sustenance.

“The stone has been used for temples, altars, shrines, walls, fishponds, for making medicine, for cooking our food underground in our imu.  There are stone tools to build our canoes and build our houses,” said Delos Reyes.

When speaking about the depth of the pohaku, Delos Reyes says it’s about respecting resources and finding solace in the spirit of the stone.

“For me, it’s the uhane pohaku, the spirit of the stone, that I embraced and looked into it and made the connection.  So for me as a stone carver, it’s my kuleana, my responsibility, to take care of what we have.  Because if we don’t take care of it, it will not take care of you.  It gives you life and you give it life back.  One does not go without the other.”

*** If you liked this post, you may also like our post on Traditional Hawaiian Medicine with Bula Logan.

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  • kimo mcpherson

    was very good kinda feeling to see hoaka with pohaku…shaping pounding and bringing out the spirit of the pohaku. I have gone to the beach and have never met a pohaku that I did not like….so my yard and house is full of pohaku…just back from an overnite trip to lahaina ,the beach are in lahaina has some of the best pohaku to carve also plenty olavine inside of some of the blackest basalt….must end this as I could get carried away with the mana of the pohaku….aloha kimo of molokai