Hei –Hawaiian string figures: Capturing the Poetic Visions of a People

  • Kalani Akana


Hei is the Hawaiian tradition of string figure making that is unlike the western tradition of cat‘s cradle and is more closely related to the dance tradition of my people. Our dance tradition, hula, is poetry based and conveys the thoughts, visions, and prophecies of that poetry through chant accompanied by hand, face, and body gesture and movements that are employed to interpret the essentials of the story being told or remembered.

Hei preserves genealogical, geographical, biographical, and biological information. This paper will explore two of these functions: 1) hei as capturing geographical information; and, 2) hei as preserving genealogical information.

In addition, I will discuss my own heuristic experience in learning hei. Spiritual learning is an essential part of my own native Hawaiian heuristics. Spiritual learning is also an important element in my indigenous research methodology.


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How to Cite
Akana, K. (1). Hei –Hawaiian string figures: Capturing the Poetic Visions of a People. WINHEC: International Journal of Indigenous Education Scholarship, (1), 99-107. Retrieved from https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/winhec/article/view/18634