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Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, December 17, 1999

Palapala Press
The large calabash is carved from kou, a wood formerly reserved
for alii because it did not leave a bad taste on food. Commoners
used containers made of hollowed gourds.

‘Na Mea’ preserves
cultural treasures


By Cynthia Oi


AN artifact without a context does little to explain or preserve a culture, says David Young.

"Artifacts are representation of a culture," he said, but if no one can say how a tool or implement was used, some of the value is lost.

With this in mind, Young has compiled more than 80 photographs and illustrations of objects "of the people of old" in a new book, "Na Mea Makamae: Hawaiian Treasures." Intricately woven fish nets, carved wooden bowls, kapa, uli uli and stone mirrors, among other beautiful objects, fill the pages.

Interviews with several Hawaiians familiar with the pieces and their uses take the book beyond pretty pictures. Young's text provides detailed information about all aspects of ancient Hawaiian life.

Young, 51, was born on Oahu, and has lived in Kona since 1965. He comes by his expertise, he says, through "a lifetime of reading, listening, gathering information -- and two years of intensive work." He has collected pieces of Hawaiian material culture for years, but said many objects have been lost.

"When the white man, the foreigners came, Hawaiians wanted to assimilate to their way of life," he said. "Even the alii threw away artifacts. They said this is our past."

Many important things also found their way to other parts of the world.

"Last week in Amsterdam, a dog tooth anklet that men wore when they danced and a boar tusk bracelet were sold at Christie's. The man who bought them is a real local supporter so I am hopeful he'll bring them back to Hawaii," Young said.


Bullet "Na Mea Makamae: Hawaiian Treasures," (Palapala Press), 109 pages, $29.95 soft cover, $37.95 hardcover


Bullet When and where Signings: 5 to 6 p.m. today, Native Books & Beautiful Things, 1244 N. School; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Native Books, Ward Warehouse

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