Sparkling & Bright
Are you attracted to things that glitter and shine? The sparkly and reflective? Things with glossy goodness or a little luster? If the answer is yes, we are definitely from the same planet. Things that huali are not everyone’s bag, I get it. But some of us are totally seduced by the razzle-dazzle. I think we could have rolled with Poliʻahu mā:
Iā Poliʻahu mā ʻehā e kū ana me nā kapa hau o lākou, he mea ʻē ka hulali. – While Poliʻahu and the others, four in total, were standing in their garments of snow, the sparkling was extraordinary. (Ke Kaʻao o Lāʻieikawai)
In effort to describe the concept of pono, one writer compared it to the physical manifestation of this akua wahine (female deity) in her home, i.e. the glistening white of snow of Mauna Kea:
He keokeo hulali e like me ka hau o Mauna Kea (Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 9 December 1865)
Of course Poliʻahu visits us occasionally here on Haleakalā, but it is pretty rare. Indeed, she prefers the majesty of her lofty mountain home on Hawaiʻi Island. But we make do here on Maui with the many other splendors on offer. Just this past Friday, on the way to the Kalo Fest in Hāna, my sister and I hiked up one of our favorite streams from the ocean and bathed in the wai hulali o ia kahawai kamahaʻo (the sparkling waters of that amazing little river).
Hulali e, a huali mai! – “Sparkling & Bright” (A temperance song published in Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 17 October 1885)
The gorgeous afternoon light reflected off the cool liquid like dancing diamonds. I could barely believe my eyes it was so beautiful. I felt deeply grateful as I plunged into the crisp, clear water. I didn’t realize how thirsty my soul was for this brief moment in a stream. I get in the ocean on the regular, but the hulali of the wai a Kāne (water of Kāne, or fresh water) is still my favorite kind of sparkle.
Of course, if I was an aku, I would feel entirely different. My favorite kind of hulali would be that of the pā, or mother-of-pearl shell lure. There are legendary pā that make aku jump in the canoe without even putting them in the ocean, by merely bringing them out into the sunlight. The shimmer that the aku really makeʻe was called hulali by Robert Kaʻiwa Punihaole in a conversation with Kepā Maly. He describes the reaction of the aku to the pā:
See, the pā, hulali, and the aku see that, oh [slaps hands, indicating striking the pā]!
He also talks about the practice of chipping away at the edges of certain living pearl shells (he called this kīpoʻopoʻo), which caused the shell to thicken, making for a good strong lure once it was carved. He said the process took as long as three months and you always hoped nobody came along and took the shell you had worked so hard to cultivate. Unreal.
Silks, pearls, diamonds, gems of all sorts, gold coins (any coins really), gold chains, spurs on boots, fancy swords and the tips of guns, all of these were described as hulali by kūpuna who wrote in the nūpepa. Yet the examples above were the ones that spoke to me most. After all, I am the child of farmers – what do I know about silk, diamonds, or guns? I grew up planting onions, collecting shells, and dreaming of fresh water swims, so the hulali shown above appeal to me. But I know there are some lovers of bling out there, so here’s one for you folks (Ke Au Okoa, 15 May 1865):
Aole no e like – It is not like
Me kuu lei kaimana – My dear diamond necklace
He hulali ke lei ae – That sparkles when worn
Kinikohu maoli no – Truly fine-looking
Whether it’s the hulali of bling or wai that floats your boat, take time to appreciate the sparkle in life. It is a place where joy and beauty take center stage, even if just for brief moments. We all need small delights in the midst of the madness. Speaking of madness, no word of the week blog post would be complete without a couple of modern examples:
E kuʻu sweetie, mahalo nui au i kāu kiʻi! Ua kaha ʻoe me ka peni wai hulali? – Hey my sweetie, I really like your picture! Did you draw it with a glitter pen?*
E hele kākou i ke kahawai! Ke ake nei au e ʻau i ka wai hulali! – Let’s go to the river. I want to swim in the sparkling water!
*Disclaimer: peni wai hulali is my own made up word for “glitter pen” (my 4-year old’s favorite drawing tool at the moment). The modern word for glitter, per Māmaka Kaiao, is “hune hulili,” but I didn’t really like how that went with peni, so I decided to haku my own term. These two examples show how important context is in defining meaning. “Wai hulali” is used twice to mean both an ink that sparkles, as from a glitter pen, and the sparkling fresh water of a river.
E ola ka ʻōlelo o ka ʻāina!