Hawaiian Vocabulary for Weaving/Plaiting

 Introduction – Hawaiian Vocabulary for Weaving/Plaiting

The following list of Hawaiian words for the different parts of the hala and lauhala and terms relating to the weaving/plaiting process come from “Arts and Crafts of Hawaii Volume III Plaiting” by Te Rangi Hiroa ( Peter H. Buck ) (1964),  “The Craft of Hawaiian Lauhala Weaving” by Bird, Goldsberry and Bird (1982) and “Treasury of Hawaiian Words in One Hundred and One Categories“, Kent (1986). I also consulted the “Hawaiian Dictionary Hawaiian-English English-Hawaiian, revised and enlarged edition” (1971) and Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Dictionary. . Hawaiian words for the same process may well differ from island to island and even from district to district within the same island. This listing is by no means meant to be comprehensive.

If readers have additional terms and definitions for this page that they feel would be useful to a general readership, please contact me. I entered kahako by installing the Hawaiian keyboard and then holding down the right ALT key and typing the letter.

The actual mechanics of lauhala choosing, preparation and weaving/plaiting are more thoroughly described in the references above and others found in Sources of Information for Weaving Lauhala and Flax.

Parts of the Hala and Lauhala

a’a hala – the roots of the hala below ground

‘ahui hala – the whole fruit of the hala

ehu hinano – the pollen of the hinano

‘elelau (welelau) – the tip of the lauhala leaf

hala – a single key of the ‘ahui hala

hinano – the male flower of the puhala

huelo – the tip of the lauhala

‘i’o hala – the flesh of the fruit

iwi hala – the seed within the key; the tip of the seed

kokala (kakala) – the thorns on the edge of the lauhala and on the kua

kū – the active koana during weaving

kua or kuakua lauhala – the midrib or center portion of the lauhala

kukū  – the thorns of the lauhala

kumu hala – the trunk of the hala

lauhala – the leaf of the hala tree

mu’ohala – the white unopened leaves at the center of the leaf cluster

po’olau – the butt end or base of the lauhala

pū hala, puhala – the entire hala tree

ule hala, uleule hala – the aerial roots of the hala

Selection, Preparation of Lauhala for Weaving/Plaiting

hoahoa – a round kapa beater using for softening the lauhala during hohoa

hohoa ( hoahoa lauhala ) – the softening of lauhala by beating, done just before weaving

ho’opalupalu – the process of softening the lauhala by working with the fingers

ho’opulu – softening of the lauhala by using a damp cloth or immersion in water

i’o ko’o – almost white lauhala except for the tips

ki – bundles of selected leaves numbering 40

kihae – removing the thorns from the lauhala

koana – strips of lauhala of a width chosen by the user ready for weaving

koe (kihae) – the splitting of lauhala with a sharp instrument or thumbnail into koana

ko’o – light green lauhala above the pili la’ele

kua – the midrib of the lauhala

ku’i – the process of removing the thorns on the edges and midrib of the lauhala

kūka’a – a roll of leaves about a foot in diameter

la’ele – the green leaves above the pa’ilau’ula

malo’o – naturally dried lauhala on the tree or the ground below

‘olala – a method of treating green lauhala with heat to soften them after which they were sun dried

pa’ilau’ula – the older and lower leaves dried brown on the tree

pākī – the pounding of lauhala in order to soften them for weaving

pili la’ele – dark green leaves with only the base ( po’olau ) white; just above the la’ele

poka’a ( poka’aka’a, po’ala ) – the process of rolling the lauhala into a kuka’a

pukani (or mu’ohala) – white unopened leaves at the center of the lauhala cluster.

Weaving/Plaiting Terms and Techniques

alahiʻi – border or hem of mat or hat

alo kahi – a single koana

alo lua – a double koana, woven as a unit

ipu – a form for hat making generally made of wood

ka ku – the working koana

koana – a strip (or strips) of lauhala cut to a certain width chosen by the user and ready for weaving

kohe – the corner of a working piece

haunu – to add in a new koana (done in pairs of moe and ku)

hi’i – to finish an edge

hono – to mend or patch

ho’okohe – to weave/plait a corner

lala – a diagonal style of weaving that can leave square corners on the bottom of a basket

maka – the mesh or single crossing of the weave

maka moena – check weave

maka ‘o’eno (ho’ohewahewa) – twill weave, also called hat weave

maoli – the weaving style that leaves the edge straight

moe – the recumbent or “resting” koana

nala (nanala) – a general term for weaving/plaiting

nihoniho – the weaving style that creates points along an edge

pālaulau – check weave

pawehe – decorative weaving/plaiting generally overlain on a finished mat

pelu – to fold or double a koana at 45 or 90 degrees

ulana – to weave/plait

Mats and Decorations

In the Kent reference above, there are more than 60 terms for different types of mats and their decorations. Below is just a representative selection. Figures 89 and 90 in Buck above, shows 9 different pāwehe designs with names.

ahuʻao – a choice mat using half-inch mesh and young, tender lauhala

ahu pāwehe – striped mat with geometric designs

ʻekeʻeke – mat woven/plaited in herringbone design

huʻa moena – a pile of mats

humumiki – pāwehe with red rectangles with corners touching

kahanu – pāwehe with red bands and white internal rectangles

keʻe keʻe – pāwehe of zigzag lines

kumunuʻa – a sleeping mat thicker at one end to serve as a pillow

moena – a general term applied to floor and sleeping mats

moena alolua – a double mat with two smooth-faced sides

moena maka pepe – mat with medium sized mesh

nene – pāwehe with a double row of triangles representing flying geese

olowahia – pāwehe with bands of a serrated edge

pakapaka – large, coarse mats using large lauhala

pālaulau – ordinary floor mat

papa ʻaina – dinner mat placed on the floor or dining table

papaula – pāwehe with a row of opposing triangles giving an hourglass look

pua hala – pāwehe with triangles on their sides and tips touching bases

pāwehe – colored geometric motifs

Measuring the Length of Pāpale ʻIe (hat braids)

anana – The length of the arms extended, including the body, measured to the tips of the longest fingers (Parker – Hawaiian Dictionary)

haʻilima – the distance from the elbow to the end of the fingers (Parker – Hawaiian Dictionary)

iwilei – from the breast bone to the end of the longest finger (Parker – Hawaiian Dictionary)

kīkoʻo – a measure from the end of the thumb to the end of the index finger (Ulukau.org – Hawaiian Dictionary); three kīkoʻo equals one haʻilima