We have hosted a feather workshop for the last three years here at Kalaekilohana in October. This year was no exception and lei hulu were the focus for the weekend. We just returned from a deserved break for a few weeks to find several very large boxes in our dining room after the house sitter had left. Clearly, these boxes were the components of a new kahili, or feather standard as we have shared on this blog previously. Puzzled, we thought, “Why or who are they making a kahili for?”. As the day turns into evening, the groups kumu asks for all the components and we comply. Shortly thereafter, we receive visitors we believe that are simply dropping in to say “aloha”. Little did we realize that they were visiting to participate in the making of a new kahili for Kalaekilohana.
This new kahili stands 12 feet tall. We thought ourselves unworthy, were speechless, surprised, honored, and awestruck by its height, beauty, and majesty.
This kahili was prepared on O’ahu and all it’s components were assembled at Kalaekilohana. The preliminary work included bundling feathers and securing them to the wire prongs, while the men did all the wire welding, and the wood work for the base and the staff.
The staff is made with Tiger wood and the base is of koa. Remember that this stands just over 12 feet completed.
Our greatest task was naming the kahili. There were some regal names initially going around and we personally felt they were too strong with high expectations and too lengthy. We discussed the new kahili’s name throughout the weekend at length and felt comfortable with Pi’imauna which we translate as ‘ascending’. Literally it means to ‘climb mountains’, and to us it implies that there are things out there that are larger than we are and although we do not know what they are, this kahili, Pi’imauna, whose height and majesty remind us that what we do at Kalaekilohana for our guests, visitors, and for our groups that join us for cultural retreats; is a very good thing. This very tall, beautiful, amazing kahili Pi’imauna, who commands a prominent place in our home knows this too.
Pi’imauna represents something much larger. What that materializes as is not clear now but is just over the ridge. We are proud to be its home and realize that its current residence at Kalaekilohana may perhaps be temporary. Does this mean that we will build another Kalaekilohana? Does Pi’imauna wish to lead us to the next big thing? He is truly amazing to gaze at.
Pi’imauna’s feathers are the hackles from various varieties of rooster. The vision created represents the snow-capped mountains of Hawai’i Island at the top and the colors gradually darken to the lower portions to represent the honua (earth). The long feathers were bundled and then attached onto chicken’s- foot shaped wires and then inserted into the staff and lashed securely. The crown and the skirt and bow is a dark forest green velvet that adds a rich tone to him. Pi’imauna’s current place in Kalaekilohana is at the center of the stairwell – the piko- of the house adjacent to the baby grand piano.