“My first art studio was on the ocean in Waihe’e (the waters of the squid, a Hawaiian delicacy.) Often my Kahu (Respected elder) came to visit and watch me paint, and we’d always ‘talk story.” On one occasion he spoke of the importance and sacredness of ‘I’ao and the valley.’ This studio was clearly in the path of I’ao. He described Iao valley as “The burial place of the Ali’I” (the high chiefs) not unlike the Pharaoh’s of Egypt. “Iao is sacred,” because of this he, cautioned me in a hushed tone: “Always pule (say a prayer) and whisper when you walk there.”
Today thousands of tourists and locals visit this sacred place where a great battle ensued that would determine the fate of Maui. Chief Kamehameha and Kaua’I Chief Ka’umu Ali’I fought from the sea into the valley, where it was written the river ran red through the valley with the blood of the warriors. It was told the women and children fled to the side ‘pali’ cliffs to only witness the carnage.
The State Parks Department now protects this land, so that no development can take away from the sacredness of the valley. The artist, Sabado studied this majestic ti, at night. He sat in his ti garden at midnight to see how the coolness of the night and the moon settled upon the ti leaves. There are very few paintings of the moon, with such a presence. When on Maui, visit this sacred of I’ao Valley and take the time to sit and see and hear the waters.
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