Kane and his Shadow

Kane and his Shadow - Art by Dan Mcpharlin

Kane and his Shadow Art by Dan Mcpharlin

The great gods sometimes came to earth. They surfed in rolling waves and wandered over plain and mountain. They drank form bubbling springs and picked Hala fruit or Ohelo berries.

Once the four great gods Kane, Ku, Lono and Kanaloa – came to Oahu. They walked through forests and fertile valleys and along the beaches. “This is good land,” Kane said. “There is fish for food and roots and berries. In the forest are great trees for canoes. There is rock and shell for tools. Let us make man to use these things and to rule them as their chief. Let us make him in our image.”

The other gods agreed. Then Kane took his staff and drew a man in the red earth of the mountainside. He made a handsome god-like figure while the other gods stood watching.

“I too shall make a man, “said Kanaloa. With his staff he drew a figure beside his brother’s.

“Make your man live,” challenged Kane, but Kanaloa could not.
“Make yours live!” he said at last, looking at his brother.

Then Kane turned to Ku and Lono who watched him silently. “Will you repeat the words I say?” he asked them. “We will”
Then Kane spoke to his rock drawing. “Live!” he commanded in a ringing voice.
“Live! Live!” the words of Ku and Lono rang like an echo.

The Rock figure stirred as if in sleep then woke to life. Slowly the man rose. looked about in wonder and knelt before his gods.

The gods built for him a house of strong timber thatched with grass. “The man has all things that he needs,” said Kane and the gods returned to their islands deep in the blue sky.

Now and then one or another visited the earth and watched their man. He drank form springs, he ate roots and shellfish. He prepared awa drink and thanked the gods for their good gifts. He learned to swim and surf. He fashioned tools and made for himself bowls and garments.

The gods saw that he had one companion. When he surfed, dug for food or chipped stone tools his shadow played or worked beside him. The gods heard him talking to his shadow but the shadow did not answer. It surfed or dug beside him, it lay beside him on the sunny beach to sleep,but it never laughed and talking with him. “He is lonely,” Kane said. “Let us give him a companion.”

The man woke from a deep seep, beside him he saw a woman, perfectly formed. He greeted her and the woman smiled and answered “You have grown from my shadow!” the man cried joyfully. “I shall call you Shadow-made-of-heaven.”

As for the figure drawn by Kanaloa, it turned to rock and remained for many years on the mountain slope above Mokapu.

Translated by Mary Kawena Puku’i from a Hawaiian newspaper.