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One of the five main plants used to adorn the kuahu of Laka, goddess of the hula and represent the five “maile” sisters, patrons of the hula. Maile haʻi wale (brittle maile), Maile lau liʻi (small-leaved maile), Maile lau nui (large-leaved maile), Maile kaluhea (sweet-scented maile), and Maile pakaha (blunt-leaved maile). The ʻōlelo noʻeau, Ka maile lau liʻi o Koʻiahi speaks of the "fine-leaved" maile of Ko’iahi, Ka’ala on O’ahu which had one of the best and most fragrant maile lau liʻi in Hawaiʻi often praised in old chants. It is said that the subtle pervasive scent of maile precedes the arrival of any of the sisters, and lingers long after they have gone, and that wherever maile is found in the mountains and forests of Hawai’i, is believed to be where the sisters wandered. In times of battle maile was a peace emblem and a symbol of courtship and love . . .
O Laka ke akua pule ikaika,
Ua kū ka maile a Laka a imua,
Ua lū ka hua o ka maile. . . .
"The prayer to the goddess Laka has power,
The maile of Laka stands foremost,
The goddess inspires her pupil as the maile scatters its fragrance . . .”
12mm (W) x 17mm (H)