Common Hawaiian Weapons
ihe laumeki barbed spear
ka‘ane strangling cord
kao lele dart; javelin
ko‘oko‘o cane used for close-range fencing
la‘au palau long-handled club
leiomano shark-toothed slashing tool
maka lua dagger for gouging eyes
newa short-handled club
pahi kaua sword
pikoi tripping cord
pololu battle pike
Women as warriors
Women in pre-Contact Hawai‘i played key roles on the battlefield—retrieving and handing weapons to warriors, tending the wounded, and sometimes fighting alongside their sons and husbands. A legend of Kaua‘i describes how Kane-wahine-iki-aohe, wife of the great warrior Kawelo, helped him defeat the evil giant Kauahoa.
As Kauahoa rushed toward Kawelo, wielding a magic koa tree as a club, Kawelo directed Kane-wahine-iki-aohe to throw her pikoi [a club fastened with a rope for tripping] around the branches of Kauahoa’s club, and to stand fast.
She did, and as the tree pulled to one side, Kawelo’s comrades grabbed its branches and held onto them with all their might. While Kauahoa tried to free his club from the entanglements, Kawelo ran behind him and dealt him a fatal blow with his newa.
Links to the past
‘Umi Kai makes and sells weapons and other Hawaiian implements through his company, Ulu Pono Designs. Although most of his creations are made to order, he participates in a few cultural festivals each year, including the Native Hawaiian Arts Market held at Bishop Museum in May—one of the signature events of Maoli Arts Month (maoliartsmonth.org).
Prices for Kai’s work start at $75. For more information, contact Kai via e-mail at ulupono1@ gmail.com.