Kāne

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In Hawaiian mythology, Kāne is considered the highest of the four major Hawaiian deities, along with Kanaloa, , and Lono. He represented the god of procreation and was worshipped as ancestor of chiefs and commoners. Kāne is the creator and gives life associated with dawn, sun and sky. No human sacrifice or laborious ritual was needed in the worship of Kāne.

The 1907 book,“Legends of Hawaii,“ has the following account of creation involving Kane. The author says that there are several versions of this story, probably due to waves of immigration from different areas of Polynesia at different times, but generally they agree on the major points. It says that in the beginning, there was nothing but Po; the endless black chaos. Then Kane, sensing that he was separate from the Po, pulled himself free of Po by an act of sheer will. Sensing Kane's presence, Lono and then Ku also pulled themselves free of Po. Then Kane created the light to push back Po. Lono brought sound to the universe and Ku brought substance. Between them they created all the lesser Gods. Then together, the three Gods created the Menehune, the lesser spirits to be their messengers and servants. Next they created the world to be a foot stool for the Gods. Finally they gathered red clay from the four corners of the world, they mixed the clay with their spittle, and molded it into the shape of a man. Then Kane took a special magical white clay and formed it into a head. Then the three Gods breathed life into the statue and created the first man. The first man was created in the image of Kane.

There is a parallel legend that says that Kane alone breathed life into the man-statue. At the same time, Kanaloa tried to duplicate Kane's feat, but his statue failed to come to life. So he challenged Kane, saying something to the effect, "that man will live only a certain span of time, then he will die. When he dies, I will claim him as my own." This seems to tie in with his position as ruler of the dead as an entity separate from Kane. Some versions say that Kanaloa is the alter ego of Kane, the dark half so to speak. Others say he is a lesser God who was created to be in charge of the dead. The author of this particular book says that in the very oldest legends, prior to about 1100 A.D., there is no mention of Kanaloa. The author is of the opinion that Kanaloa is therefore, an addition from some later wave of immigration to the islands.

There is another, completely separate, legend about the creation of man. In that version, the first-born son of the sky father and the earth mother is stillborn. When he is buried, the first Kalo plant springs from his navel. The second born son is man. Hence the two sons are eternally connected. Man tends his brother the Kalo, and the Kalo feeds his brother the man. In that version there is no mention of Kane.

Aloha, the traditional greeting, was originally spoken while touching foreheads and exchanging a breath of air. This is possibly a reflection of the legend, exchanging the breath of life, originally given by the Gods.

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See also[edit]

  • Tāne – the Māori god