Ancient Burial Grounds of Hawaii
In recent years, ancient burial grounds have been frequently disturbed due to increasing surveillance by anthropologists and constructed on by state-of-the-art technology and are more critically protected than ever before. Understanding the importance of burial grounds gives an insight on the rich history of ancient Hawaii. They have influenced the burials performed, ancestors and their modern inhabitants, and how they have impacted modern Hawaii. Burial methods will range from the tallest peaks on land to burying those in the ocean. Ancestors influence these methods depending on their rank and actions, having their modern descendants have a choice to inherit these arrangements and protect their ancestors. By educating people about past burials, procedures performed by ancestors, and the impact today, it should provide a clear background of its importance in Hawaiian society.
Hawaiian burials by the types of burial, the ancestors’ actions, and their descendants. Ancient Hawaiians used a variety of methods before and after the arrival of white men, both burial and preparation. “The landscape and seascape were powerful symbolisms to natives” (Yalom 233). This had meant Hawaiians used not only the majority of the island as a resting place, but also the Pacific Ocean. Besides the significance in the land, they had also honored the deceased as they were sacred in the afterlife. “After someone dies, it was said that the spirit lingered in another relative’s bones. Therefore, they believed that physical infestation remained within the individual” (Gaylord).
Hawaiians used various methods to prepare bodies and bury the deceased. “As bodies were prepared for burial, they were closely wrapped in tapa in a round shape. A rope is attached to the legs, passing the neck. This was done until the knees touched the neck” (Fullard-Leo). “The body was likely restricted to alii, or priest. They would cut open the corpse to remove organs and fill it with sand salt to preserve it. Then the priest would perform huikala, or purification, sprinkling the body with water mixed with the turmeric on all the people (Yalom 235).
“Cave burial was one of the most common ways to put a body to rest. Placement of the bodies were in lava tubes, rock shelters, or hitches that contained several bodies inside. Burying the deceased in sand dunes or in earth was another common but preferred method. Majority of the sand dunes in Hawaii have some kind of history with burial” (Kirch 240). Apart from buried in the earth, surface burials they had also conducted included cremation, which was performed by burning the corpse over a fire until the bones had charred into ash. “When referring to sea burials, bodies of fishermen would be wrapped in red cloth, then put in the ocean to be eaten by sharks. It was believed that the essence of the fisherman would inhabit the shark’s body” (Redmond 4).
Burying individuals have impacted the people of ancient Hawaiians...