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Lei are the very expression of traditional Hawaiian culture and were once an essential part of community and family life. Following in the footsteps of Samuel Kamakau, Abraham Fornander and others, the authors have collected here a wealth of written and oral information to reveal the significance of making and wearing lei and their role in Hawaiian ritual and dance. This volume covers 85 flowers and plants (and another dozen colour variations) used in traditional lei construction. They are arranged according to their Hawaiian names and accompanied by botanical information and descriptions gleaned from legends and chants that illustrate the cultural uses and special meanings of lei prior to Western contact. Many are introduced by poems especially written for this work by master "kumu hula", linguist and ethnologist Pualani kanaka'ole Kanahele. The authors present the lei art form in not ony words, but also pictures. Colour photographs showcase each plant and lei (shown by itself or worn), as well as places throughout the Islands associated specific flowers and plants. An appendix includes a complete list of lei plants, basic instructions for their propagation and other sources for material.
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About the Author

Marie A. McDonald, ethnologist, educator, and master lei maker, was recognized as a ""Master of Traditional Arts"" by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990. Her first book, Ka Lei, remains in print after a quarter century. Paul R. Weissich is former director of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. He is a consultant and landscape architect and is coauthor of Plants for Tropical Landscapes: A Gardener's Guide.

Reviews

A stunning book resulting from 10 years of meticulous research, writing and artistic collaboration-- "Honolulu Star-Bulletin"

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