The Hawaiian gods werelike great chiefs from far lands who visited among the people, entering their dailylives sometimes as humans or animals, sometimes taking residence in a stone orwooden idol. As years passed, the families of gods grew and included thetrickster Maui, who snared the sun, and fiery Pele of the volcano.
Ancient Hawaiian lived bythe animistic philosophy that assigned living souls to animals, trees, stones, stars, and clouds, as well as to humans. Religion and mythology were interwovenin Hawaiian culture; and local legends and genealogies were preserved in song, chant, and narrative.
Martha Beckwith was thefirst scholar to chart a path through the hundreds of books, articles, andlittle-known manuscripts that recorded the oral narratives of the Hawaiianpeople. Her book has become a classic work of folklore and ethnology, and thedefinitive treatment of Hawaiian mythology.
With an introduction by Katherine Luomala.