Monday, September 19, 2016

Human Sacrifice on the Hawaiian Islands

Human Sacrifice Was Common in the Hawaiian Islands 

 The highest of the social classes was the ali’i, the nobility or aristocracy. Below them were the maka’ainana, or commoners. At the bottom of the scale was a small outcast or pariah group called kauwa
   The Kauwa along with prisoners of war were the sacrificial lambs to appease the gods.

That the Hawaiian chiefs and priests set small value upon life is well attested by the large number of human sacrifices required for almost all civil and religious ceremonies. For instance, when the famous war-god Kaili was taken to a temple dedicated to it by Kamehameha, eleven human victims were placed at once upon the altar before it. When a chief desired a new canoe a man was usually slain at the foot of the tree from which the canoe was to be made. Another was slain when the canoe was complete, and others might be sacrificed at different stages of the work. 

When a chief's house was to be erected, sometimes a victim was sacrificed and buried at each corner, and when the house was completed another slaughter occurred. When an idol was to be made, substantially the same sacrifices accompanied the ceremony of choosing the tree and carving the image. At certain times the priests of all the temples demanded human victims, and regularly appointed officers, or man-catchers, were appointed to provide for the sacrifice. Not even their own relatives were spared in the search. Women were almost always exempt from this horrible termination of life. When a battle had been fought, many captives were sacrificed by both victor and vanquished.

Infanticide was freely practiced up to the time of the advent of the missionaries. Even for old people there was often but little love, and the aged and the infirm were left to care for themselves, or placed on the beach for the outstretched hands of the incoming tide.

     A native historian says: "The ancient restrictions of chiefs and priests were like the poisoned tooth of a reptile. If the shadow of a common man fell on a chief, it was death. If he put on any part of the garments of a chief, it was death. If he went into the chief's yard or upon the chief's house, it was death. if he stood when the king's bathing water or his garments were carried along, or in the king's presence, it was death. If he stood at the mention of the king's name in song, it was death. There were many other offences of the people which were made capital by the chiefs. The king and the priests were much alike. The priesthood was oppressive to the people. Human victims were required on many occasions. If tabus were violated it meant death. It was death to be found in a canoe on a tabu or sacred day. If a woman ate pork, coconuts, bananas, or certain kind of fish or lobster, it was death."