Playing Games in Naiwa – Part 3
In our last episode, our hero has eyes only for the beauty, Koa`ekea. He is obsessed with this red headed woman who, for one evening has been chosen to conduct the puhenehene – a guessing game which is part of the Makahiki celebrations in Naiwa, Kalae.
Our hero, whose name is Kalimahopu, was born in Iliopii in Kalaupapa. Here he married the “speckled hen of Waikolu” and they settled at a place near the cliffs. In this place there was a big sweet potato field cultivated by the Kalaupapa people. They grew other food, too, which thrived on the dry plains.
Kalimahopu’s father had passed away but not before leaving Kalimahopu his o`o stick to care for and lead his family. He had built a house in the potato patch and sometimes lived there in the upland fields and sometimes near the sea at Iliopii. There were many houses close to the road called Puu-paneene, which led up to Kalae.
The name of a gulch close to the base of the hill beside the road of Puu-paneenee was Kamanuolalo. It was named after a tree which was found nowhere else on Molokai, nor the rest of Hawaii. According to those who knew about the tree, it was unequal in uniqueness. The tree’s story was similar to the Kalaipahoa in that it grew only on Molokai.
The games played at Kalae were maika during the day with heavy betting on the champions. In the evenings, they played puhenehene. In this story, our beauty chose women companions first and then five men. Once she found places for them in the center of the crowd, she put a pile of tapa on each lap.
At the start of the game, the men and women faced one another. There were two stones, a black one which belonged to the men, and a white one which was the women’s. The stones were hidden under tapa heaped up in front everyone. Koa`ekea gave a stone to a man to hide and kept one for herself. She sat among her friends, chanting, and they all swayed from side to side. She tossed the black pebble to the man who sat opposite her, and rolled the white stone to herself. She chanted some more, and at the end of the chant, her opponent spun his pebble until it displaced the white one, making the game a draw so it became the girls’ turn to figure out what the men were doing.
Then Koa`ekea gave a stone to someone else to hide. They sang hula songs or chanted. The crowd bet among themselves and the players bet against each other. The prize was Wahinalau — the players themselves were the stakes. So the payoff might be a kiss or something bolder. The bets were paid whenever the other side won.
Playing the puniu, dancing hula, spinning the kilu and playing the maile game were among the other evening entertainment.
Kilu and alaapapa dancing in this story took place at Maheleana near Kipu.
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