Ku'ula first lived with his wife Hina and their son 'Ai'ai in Hana on the island of Maui. Their home was on the side of the hill called ‘Ka iwi o Pele’ (the bones of Pele.) A fisherman of great wisdom and power, Ku'ula served as head fisherman of East Maui to Chief Kamohoali'i. His place on the Hawaiian genealogy line stems from Wakea, the first Hawaiian man.
As legend was told, during the time of famine Ku'ula built the first walled in fishpond named 'Keko'ona' meaning, 'during the time of famine.' With his magic hook, named 'Manai Akalani, (come from heaven,) he could lure fishes into the pond for all the people. Because of Ku'ula, the fishpond was always full of fishes until one day a giant eel from Molokai named Ko’ona, broke the enclosing wall of the pond and devoured all the fish. His son Ai’Ai caught the eel and the pond was restored.
Even to this day fisherman still keep a lookout for akule fish entering the bay by a stone called Maka kilo ia (The eyes of the fish watchman). This stone had been set in place by Ku'ula's son Ai 'Ai on the summit of Kauiki, a hill in Hana Bay.
Before his passing Ku'ula gave his son four magic objects to control the fish, a pearl shell fish hook for catching aku, (bonito), a magic hook, a cowry shell, for catching octopus, a sand stone named Ku'ula to attract fish. He also taught his son Ai'Ai how to pray for the fish. Even today after preparing their fish nets for a day of fishing they say a prayer to Ku'ula.
This painting is unique because it employs the energy of the four Hawaiian deities, Ku Kane, Kaneloa and Lono. 'Ku' is the red color of the fish he carries. The ocean is 'Kaneloa.' The Aina or land is 'Lono' and Kane, in the Hawaiian belief is the creator God who made the stars and earth.
The dramatic red fish speak to us of abundance. People often ask me upon seeing this painting "What kind of fish are they?" To which the answer is "These are mystical fish from a mystical fisherman."
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