Why did I love this book?
Despite the scholarly title, this book is a highly readable account of traditional Hawaiian culture in Ka‘ū, the southernmost district of the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Mary Kawena Pukui (1895–1986) was a preeminent Hawaiian scholar, author, composer, hula expert, and educator. She was born and raised in Ka‘ū, a remote, rural area where the old culture endured outside of the Westernization of the islands. In 1935 she traveled home with anthropologist E.S. Handy to gather information from her elders. Their book provides details and insights about the district’s history and ecology, the legendary setting (gods and spirits), the extended household and kinship system, the life cycle of individuals, manners and customs, and the relationships between people and ancestral spirits and animals.