Kalaipahoa, Poison God - Essay Example

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In the ancient days, the Hawaiians had deep respect for the Gods especially during the times of wars when they had to beseech for guidance…
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Kalaipahoa, Poison God
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Kalaipahoa, Poison God of Work: Kalaipahoa, Poison God Made With Human Hair 1069 × 1600 Production of origin: Hawaii
Date: November 2010
Media: Woodcarving
I chose to write about this particular work in order to reflect on the history and religious background of the indigenous people of Hawaii. In the ancient days, the Hawaiians had deep respect for the Gods especially during the times of wars when they had to beseech for guidance and protection from the god of poison. In this respect, it is important to mention the fact that the god of Kalaipahoa was made out of woodcarvings and he meant a lot to the people who worshipped him, as he was believed to possess the power of poison that was very instrumental in times of war. The tree from which the woodcarving came was called the Kalaipahoa tree and perhaps this is where the name of the Hawaiian god Kalaipahoa originated.
Certainly, Kalaipahoa, Poison God is a work of art at least going by the principles and elements of art. Perhaps it is appropriate to start by mention the fact that the Hawaiians produced this piece of art in order to construct their identity when it came to worship and other religious issues. This meant that the people of Hawaii in used to worship their god in a unique way that no other ethnic group did. This was particularly so in the sense that the Hawaiians had a sense of identity in their god of poison while other tribes worshipped their gods in the mountains and the oceans. Additionally, the Hawaiians constructed their god with human hair thus they strategically essentialized themselves to survive their cultural identity and draw more powerful supernatural support since its style, iconography, and underline message conveyed such.
When it comes to the background of the work, the Hawaiian woodcarvers constructed the pieces of art for religious purposes and they made sure that Kalaipahoa was carved out of the Kalaipahoa tree that was considered very poisonous to humans. Mainly, the tree was collected from Molokai Island before being transported to the woodcarvers. Essentially, the people of Hawaii were well versed with all kinds of poisonous trees and they put this knowledge into good use by utilizing it in wars and in worship. Although the Kalaipahoa tree was very famous for its medicinal value, its poisonous nature proved to be unbearable at times and could kill humans within seconds of inhalation or contact.
Finally but equally important, it is worthy to note that Kameharnehas poison-god, who was also called Kalai-pahoa, was a female carved out of wood with human hair. Her facial expression depicted anguish with one eye shut whiles the other one wide open. She seemed to be looking at the torments that were almost facing her worshippers and with her supernatural powers, she was ready to defend her faithful worshippers to the teeth. With the great power of the Kalai-pahoa tree, the Hawaiians were able to suppress the powers of their enemies by killing them with the poison.
David Pearson, Provenance Research in Book History: a Handbook. (London: British Library, 1998), 132.
Sylvan Barnet, A short guide to writing about Art, Fifth edition. (New York: Longman, 1997), 166. Read More
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