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Hawaiian Gods Mural

Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2012

A highlight of the Pow! Wow! Hawaii 2012 street art festival held in Honolulu was this huge mural created by four artists: Prime, Trek6, Mike Bam and Estria. The work celebrates the gods and goddesses of Hawaiian mythology. For the central section, the artist Estria painted the image of Kane, the first god of the Hawaiian islands.

HAWAIIAN GODS MURAL, 2012 - 2015 by Prime, Trek6, Mike Bam and Estria (collection: Pow Wow Hawaii 2012 Street Art Festival located at 329 Cooke Street, Honolulu, HI)

Kane, the god of life, wears a lei palaoa around his broad neck and chest. This traditional necklace indicates his position as the head of the family of gods. He appears between the heavens and earth: emerging from the waters below, while bringing life-giving rain from the heavens above.

With the zoom viewer, take a close-up look at the mural here. You can see that half of Kane's body is divided between light and dark, night and day. He leans is massive arms on a bowl filled with kava, a drink believed to promote healing, clarity, and harmony. On the surface of the bowl's contents appears the word mihi meaning “forgiveness."

Returning to Kane's face, it seems curiously recognizable. Could it be a portrait of Duke Kahanamoku as Kane? Born Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola (1890-1968) is one of Hawaii's most important cultural icons. A five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, Duke was also a legendary surfer and global ambassador for the sport. If so, Estria's image is a kind of double portrait: a powerful image of the great life-giving god Kane and a tribute to the great Hawaiian hero Duke Kahanamoku.

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