Hawaiian String Figures

Note: The 16 Graphics of string figures were scanned from photo copies of Plates XIII, XIV, XV accompanying the source document. The source page number appears in brackets before the text of that page.


84. Hei -Cat's Cradle

[Page 222) A number of cat's-cradles were known to my informants, among which are:

Hawaiian NameEnglish NameGraphic SourceGraphic
1) hoo-ko-mo[none given](Plate XIVe)Plate 14e
2) e-ke-ma-nu ace of diamonds(Plate XIIIe)Plat4 13e
3) e-ke-ha-ka ace of hearts(Plate XIIIa)
4) e-ke -pe-ki ace of spades(Plate XIVc)Plate 14c
5) a-na-ma-nubird-house(Plate XVa)Plate 15a
6) pau-ma-waipump(Plate XIIIc)Plate 13c
7) pa-hi-o-losaw(Plate XVb)Plate 15b
8) ma-hi-kisee-saw(Plate XIIId)Plate 13d
9) wai-ula-wa[none given](PlateXVc)Plate 15c
10) ko-hevagina(PlateXIVf)Plate 14f
11) o-kole-a-mo[none given] (Plate XIVd)Plate 14d
12) pa-pi-o-ma-ka-nu-i-nu-i[none given](Plate XIVa)Plate 14a
13) pa-pi-o-ma-ka-lii-lii[none given](Plate XVd)Plate 15d
14) u-pe-nanet(Plate XIVb)Plate 14b
15) poupost(Plate XVe)Plate 15e
16) podarkness(Plate XIIIb)Plate 13b

Many others are said to be known. A single player makes them with great rapidity, but sometimes another is called on for assistance. The name, hei, "net," applied to the game is [Page 223] said to be derived from that of our "cradle," which is given that name. The cat's-cradle called po, or "darkness," may have had the same significance as that of New Zealand described by Taylor.1 He says: "He whai ormaui, a game very similar to our own, but the cord is made to assume many more forms, and these are said to be different scenes in their mythology, such as Hine-nui-tepa, 'Mother Night bringing forth her progeny', 'Maru and the gods', and 'Maui fishing up the land'. Men, canoes, houses, etc., also are represented. Some state that Maui invented the game."

Codrington2 says: "Cat's-cradle, in Lepers' island lelegaro, in Florida honggo, with many figures, is common throughout the islands."

1Op. cit, p.172.
2Op. cit, p.341.


Last update February 3, 2010