Nhsc-v1-148

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nhsc-v1-148

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all classes of society and, according to one historian, "insured the subordination of the lower to the higher." 11/ Another author explains the meaning of kapu as follows:

In its fundamental meaning

tapu [kapu] as a word was used primarily as an adjective and as such signified that which was psychically dangerous, hence restricted, forbidden, set apart, to be avoided, because: (a) divine, therefore requiring isolation for its own sake from both the common and the corrupt; (b) corrupt, hence dangerous to the common and the divine, therefore requiring isolation from both for their sakes. 12/

Everything associated with the gods was sacred and there were many kapu surrounding priests and anything else related to the gods. Chiefs were believed to be descended from the gods and were surrounded by a great number of kapu, depending on their rank and, hence, degree of sacredness. The best known of the kapu that affected all classes was the prohibition against men and women eating together. Women were also forbidden to eat certain foods such as pork, and certain types of bananas, coconuts, and fish. 13/

The social system of the islands consisted basically of the king, followed by the ali'i (chiefs) of various degrees, kahuna (priests/ advisors), and the maka'ainana (commoners). There was also a slave class, the kauwa, below the maka'ainana, but little is known about it. 14/ The king was regarded as sacred and held the power of life and death over his subjects. His executive duties included warfare, questions of state, and overseeing the performance of religious rites. 15/

The king and ali'i of the highest rank were protected by the strictest of kapu, in order to preserve their mana (divine power) and the beneficence of the gods, upon which the entire kingdom depended for its prosperity. Great care was taken to* secure noble offspring with the purest genealogy and thus ensure the continuation of the dynasty and the good favor of the gods. A suitable partner for a chief of the highest rank was his full-blooded sister. The child of such a union would be a "chief of the highest rank, a ninau pi'o, so sacred that all who came into his presence must prostrate themselves." 16/ For this reason, the genealogies of the kings were carefully preserved by their descendants to determine the purity of the bloodline of both partners. 17/

The political system of the islands consisted of small kingdoms under ali'i, with four main groupings: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Competing ali'i waged wars against each other, and, as a result, boundaries advanced and retreated according to the ability and ambition of their sovereigns. 18/ There was much discussion in the comments received by the Commission about whether the ancient land system could be termed "feudal." 19/ Authors disagree on the subject. William Russ states that "a feudal regime prevailed," 20/ and describes the relationships among the various classes in feudal terms. Lawrence Fuchs says that: "The religious, family, and property systems of feudal Hawaii and feudal Europe were different, but there were many parallels between the two." 21/

Regardless of the term employed, written descriptions of the system are similar. The following is from Jon Chinen, a noted Hawaiian land expert, who does not use the word "feudal:"

When Kamehameha The Great brought all the Hawaiian Islands under his control at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, he simply followed the land system that had existed within the Islands from ancient
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