Poi Pounders

In  Kauai The Separate Kingdom, Edward Joesting devotes Chapter 2 to the Menehune people of Kauai. He mentions the discovery of a unique type of poi pounder found on Kauai, pictured here, and provides a rationale for this discovery:

“There Were A People Called Menehune”

Ring type poi pounder found on Kaua'i.

Ring type poi pounder found on Kaua’i.

“On Kauai there is evidence of ancient connections with the southern islands of Central Polynesia not found on the other islands of Hawaii. That these differences existed on Kauai for so long after communications with Central Polynesia had ceased is a manifestation of the isolation of Kauai from the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. Differences are seen in the stone implements that were once used on Kauai, in styles of heiaus, in language, and in the stories of the Menehune. Long considered a mythical people of Kauai, in reality the Menehune were a distinct people of an ancient time.

“Among the stone implements common to the Kauaians were two types of poi pounders restricted almost exclusively to that island. Pounders were used to mash the corm of the taro plant into poi, the staple food of the Hawaiians. The two Kauai types are the ring and stirrup pounders. The stirrup pounder has an indentation that allowed the user to hold the implement more firmly while pounding the corm of the taro plant. The ring pounder has a hole cut through the stone so that it could be grasped firmly. The poi pounder common to all the Hawaiian Islands has a single round handle and a flared, circular pounding surface. Most pounders stand about nine inches high.

“A discovery of significance was made in recent years on the island of Uahuka in the northern Marquesas when an “ancestor” stirrup pounder was discovered there. It is estimated, through radiocarbon dating, that it was in use at sometime between A.D. 600 and 1300. This type of pounder has been found only on Uahuka and Kauai and thus links these two distant islands.”
from Kauai, The Separate Kingdom, page 18.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment