Onipa'a Bandana

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Onipa'a Bandana

14.00

Mahalo for supporting an independent artist with your order! I created this design in celebration of Queen Lili’oukalani's birthday, and 50% of every sale goes right back to the mauna to support the kia’i. The 22”x22” bandanas are red ink silkscreened onto yellow, 100% cotton fabric, and come heat-set and ready to wear.

Last month (September) was a great month for sales, with $463 going to KAHEA’s Aloha ‘Āina Support Fund, which prioritizes funding for frontline support on the mauna. In October, I will be donating 50% of sales to Laurie Lyons-Makaimoku, who is doing kitchen support on the mauna and will use the funds to ensure hot meals for kia'i as we move into colder weather.

PLEASE NOTE: I will be out of the country from October 2 - 8. Orders placed from October 1 - 8 will be fulfilled on October 9 upon my return. Mahalo for your patience!


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MY PROCESS involves a ton of research to ensure that the finished piece carries my intended meaning. Please be respectful of the work I put into this piece, and do not use without my permission (and never use for monetary benefit, because that's just not cool).

THE DESIGN

  • The logo in all four corners is associated with the movement to protect Mauna a Wākea, and is often paired with the words "Kū kiaʻi mauna," which in Ōlelo Hawai'i - Hawaiian language - means "Stand as a guardian strong as mountains." This translation is according to Aunty Pua Case, who told the creation story of "Kū kiaʻi mauna” on September 3 during morning protocol. Aunty Pua's daughter Hāwane Rios thought up the saying in 2012 in their living room as they were creating a new chant.

  • 'ONIPA’A means steadfast, set solid and immovable. The word 'Onipa'a was part of Queen Lili'uokalani's motto: "E 'onipa'a i ka 'imi na'auao," which can be interpreted as "Be steadfast in the seeking of knowledge." Her reign was cut short in 1893 in a US-backed coup led by Sanford Dole (as in Dole pineapples, please don't ever buy Dole products), but she remains an enduring figure of hope and strength for Kānaka Maoli.

  • The border is a representation of kapa, a cloth made from the fibers of certain trees and shrubs that grow on the Hawaiian islands.

  • At the corners inside the border, you can see the coat of arms historically used by Hawaiian royalty, which is also the central feature of one of the flags being flown by Kanaka Maoli in the islands right now. Here my research has broken down a bit, because depending in the source the coat of arms consists of either 1) a vertical kahili (the original Hawaiian royal standard made of feathers), and two crossed paddles, meant to represent the voyaging tradition of the Native Hawaiians -OR- 2) a vertical triangular flag representing an ancient flag of the Hawaiian chiefs which was raised at sea above the sail of their canoes, with two crossed spears in front of it representing protection for the king’s house.

  • Below that coat of arms are ti leaves. Ti plants are one of the canoe plants brought to the islands by journeying Polynesians, and the plant has many uses. The leaves can be used to make leis and items of clothing, wrap gifts, and cook foods. The ti plant is also used for healing and medicinal purposes.

  • Next to the ti leaves is the crown of the house of Kalākaua, designed by King Kalākaua, Lili’uokalani’s brother, in 1882.

  • Below the crown is the frigate bird, or ‘iwa. ‘Iwa have the largest wing-area-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, and are able to soar for weeks on wind currents. They are viewed as guides, and there are many tales of ‘iwa being used by Polynesians to sight shorelines from the sea.

  • In the very center of the design are kalo leaves (kalo is also known as the taro plant). From the earliest times, Kanaka Maoli depended on kalo as the main staple of their diet, supplemented by other canoe plants such as `ulu (breadfruit), and `uala (sweet potato). Depending on the variety, all parts of the kalo are eaten. The leaves are cooked as greens, similar to spinach, or used as wrappers for lau lau. The tubers are eaten baked, boiled or steamed, or (most famously) cooked and mashed with water to make poi.

  • Red and yellow are the colors of Hawaiian royalty, and also are the most frequently used colors in the movement to protect Mauna a Wākea, so I have used them here.