Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sacred Kakau Sacred Designs

I have designed many kakau and have come across folks wanting a sacred design.

Let us explore this notion by understanding the word "sacred". ( look up "sacred" in the Hawaiian dictionary and you will find that the word sacred has 10 or so Hawaiian words for sacred.)

Review the definitions and be sure that you know what you mean when you ask for a sacred design and not just from an English frame of reference but more importantly a Hawaiian context.

Symbols and relics that are sacred are believed to be connections to deities. Having a sacred symbol on your body is a huge responsibility. There is a code of conduct required 24/7 and it cannot be turned off to yell at the car that cut you off or hate the woman that is having the loud conversation on her cell phone in the small lobby of the dentist's office.  

Can you do it? Can you walk that path?

Let us look at the word: Sacred
adjective /ˈsākrid/ 
  1. Connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration
    • - sacred rites
    • - the site at Eleusis is sacred to Demeter

  2. Religious rather than secular
    • - sacred music

  3. (of writing or text) Embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion
    • - a sacred Hindu text

  4. Regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual
    • - an animal sacred to Mexican culture

  5. Sacrosanct
    • - to a police officer nothing is sacred

Let look at the Hawaiian word kapu:
1. nvs. Taboo, prohibition; special privilege or exemption from ordinary taboo; sacredness; prohibited, forbidden; sacred, holy, consecrated; no trespassing, keep out. hoʻo.kapu To make taboo, prohibit, sanctify consecrate, forbid. (PPN tapu.)

2. n. Tub. Eng.

3. n. Cap. Eng.. See pāpale kapu.

Lets look at the Hawaiian word la'a:
1. vs. Sacred, holy, devoted, consecrated, set apart or reserved as for sacred purposes, dedicated. Cf. laʻahia. Mea laʻa, consecrated or holy one or thing. Lāhui laʻa, consecrated nation. hoʻo.laʻa To consecrate, dedicate, sanctify, bless, hallow. Ka hoʻolaʻa ʻana, the consecration, dedication. (PCP laka.)

 ( interesting  2nd definition )
2. vs. Cursed, defiled (Kanl. 22.9), bound under an oath, doomed to death or destruction (FS 120–3), in great trouble. E mālama hoʻi ʻoukou iā ʻoukou iho i nā mea i laʻa, o laʻa ʻoukou i kō ʻoukou lawe ʻana i nā mea laʻa, a hoʻolilo ʻoukou i ka ʻIseraʻela i mea laʻa, a hoʻopilikia hoʻi iā lākou (Ios. 6.18), protect yourselves from accursed things, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make of the Israelites a cursed thing, and indeed cause them trouble. Ā laʻa, ā laʻa lā, so you did get in trouble, hurt, serves you right! I told you so! A laʻa kō kū i ke aʻu, so you did get jabbed by a swordfish [get into trouble]. A laʻa kō hāʻule lā, there you did fall.

Sacred is only as sacred to the person that makes an object or symbol sacred. Just because it is sacred to you does not make it sacred to the world.

next time: lets begin to explore mo'olelo, Hawaiian stories that can be used for inspiration to design a kakau.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Body Placement

So you did your research and created a design but where do you put it?

When you began your design process you should have had an idea, ie. shoulder, chest, wrist, fingers, leg ect.

The challenging part is designing the kakau to work with the muscle line of your body and placing the design so that it looks nice with current or future designs. Basically you don't want to have a patchwork look or a boyscout-badge look but rather an overall flow that complements your body type. You and your designs should look great together!

I have seen plenty of boyscout-badge kakau placements where the individual design looks amazing but it looks like it was put in a random position.

Sorry I took so long between posts I make a point to post regularly :).

My next topic: When and if a kakau design is sacred.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brainstorming for Your Kakau part 2

This is the second half and solution to the kakau I began in part 1
to review:

In writing your story hear are some questions to ask your self. I answered the questions to show the how a kakau chain of thoughts can flow.
Focus: I am always amazed at how much she accomplished and that is was quality work. I want to focus on her(my great-grandmother’sr) excellence and that I will strive for excellence in reaching my goals.

Solution:  How do I capture her essence and honor her accomplishments?
I chose to use:
1.        a hala design for her skills as a weaver and quilter
2.        a haukiuki for her knowledge of gathering  ocean resources (salt, limu, wana ect.)

Placement:  I do most of my work with my hands so this is designed to wrap my forearm, more specifically my left forearm. The body in Hawaiian thought is spit into several zones one of them being the right side on the body is male and the left side is female.

My next blog will be about body placement theories and guidelines....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brainstorming for Your Kakau part 1

In writing your story here are some questions to ask yourself. I answered the questions to show how a kakau chain of thoughts can flow.
1.        What  the purpose of the design? I want a family tattoo.
2.        Which side of your family and where were they from? My mother's side and from Huelo, Maui
3.        Is this side of your family known for being ocean or mountain people? The person I would like the design to be about is my great grand-mother. She was very knowledgeable at gathering from the ocean: limu, salt, opihi ect. She was also a paniolo and enjoyed her whiskey. She was a Hawaiian quilter and lauhala weaver.
4.        What aspect or trait would you like to focus on? I am always amazed at how much she accomplished and that is was quality work. I want to focus on her excellence and that I would like a kakau to show my commitment to strive for excellence in reaching my goals.
5.        What plants, animals, places, come to mind that would embody this trait? I will focus on ocean plants and ocean animals that I am familiar with and have researched...

I will do some research in the next few days and post the results in part 2.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Native Hawaiian Design

Aloha kaua!

I have created this blog to share what I have learned about native Hawaiian design theory. I have spent the last 18 years studying Hawaiian and Polynesian tattoos as a way to connect to my family, ancestors, culture and universe.

I am sharing what I have learned on this journey through: books I have read, conversations with many experts of Hawaiian culture and experiences that I have had designing kakau for others.

There are many great tattoo artists in Hawaii and many theories and "rules" on Hawaiian tattoo designs. My voice and theory is one of many.

Let's Begin...