No Stone Unturned…

The moʻolelo of the FITTED x Paiea Projects HILO Jersey
(Releasing Saturday, September 10 at FITTED)

Today we live in a modern world where facts are only proven by science, and truths are only believed when witnessed. We don’t believe in the unseen and miracles are mere coincidences. How then, do we connect to the mo’olelo of our kūpuna? Days of mo’o as big as houses, of kupua that turn into fish, of Maui slowing the sun and of Pele creating land. If one were to sit down and read all the mo’olelo Hawai’i with today’s beliefs on what is true and what is possible, they would seem to be a long list of “fairy tales.” But to those of us who believe in these mo’olelo as our history and truth, the stories give valuable insight to the life of our kūpuna, their values, and their belief systems.

Based on many events that can only be described as kupaianaha, we chose to tell the story of the Naha stone. It is a story that connects two worlds, one of the unbelievable and one of real fact. It is a fact that the 5,000 lb Naha stone now resides in Hilo, Hawai’i at the public library. It is there, living, resting and real. Anyone can go visit the large, magnificent pōhaku and rationalize that no man could ever lift it.

It is said that the Naha Stone could determine if a child was of the royal blood of the Naha rank. Newborns of the Naha line were placed on the stone and a ceremony was enacted. If the child was silent, he was of true Naha descent, a royal prince destined for greatness. If the child cried, he would be thrust among the commoners and his life filled with shame.

Another ancient prophecy says that only chiefs of Naha blood could violate the sanctity of the stone by moving it, and he who moved it would conquer all the islands. Kamehameha was not of Naha descent, he was a Nī’aupi’o. Had he failed it would have resulted in death.

Thou hast spoken the truth indeed, for I have come to try and move the Naha Stone, for by that symbol I shall attain success and live, or shall meet that which will bare my bones.

So goes the story of how Kamehameha overturned the stone, and went on to unify the islands.

Original Image by Dietrich Varez

However, a different moʻolelo gives insight to another account of the history of this sacred stone. An oral tradition speaks of the stone actually being a man named Naha, a family ancestor. It is said that Naha was a kanaka hume malo (loincloth binder), responsible for dressing aliʻi (royalty). This was a sacred job reserved for families of the aliʻi, for the malo (loincloth) contained the mana (power) of the man who wore it. In an unsucessful attempt to take the aliʻi’s malo and assume power, Naha was caught, and as punishment turned to stone.

Until today the ‘ohana that shared this mo’olelo continues to care for this famous stone at Hilo Public Library, as their kupuna have done. For them, this is not just a tale, it is an account of their family’s history that lives on til this day. With this FITTED x Paiea Projects Hilo jersey, we hope to honor the Naha ‘ohana, Kamehameha the Great, Hilo Hanakahi and all the precious mo’olelo that have survived because of our kūpuna. Mahalo nō!

Mahalo to Kuhaʻo and Malani for showing us the ropes in Hilo!

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