The little menehune that sit upon my shelf,
smiling up at me trying to remind me to laugh at my self.
They used to sit among the clowns,
always calling me to get them down.
Smiling big with a crinkle near their eyes,
They remind me of better days and always sunny skies.
Across the great Pacific to our tiny town,
so exotic I never wanted to put them down.
A tchotchke to some, but a memory I will always treasure.
You see they belonged to my grandmother and will forever bring me pleasure.
These are my Menehune, they were given to me by my grandmother a dozen or so years ago when she was cleaning out her house during a move or while redecorating, I can’t quite remember. She had had them for as long as I can remember, getting them on a trip to Hawaii sometime in the 60’s. They always sat on a bookshelf in her living room at the “farm” and I was fascinated by them as a child and loved to take them down from the shelf, play with them like dolls and rub their shiny bellies and smile at their big grins.
My grandmother would sometimes tell me funny stories about them or tease me that they were watching me and I better be good. My grandmother always loved clowns too for some reason, I don’t know why, and these reminded me of some of the clowns she had around her home.
My grandmother always told me they were carved out of Lava Rocks and I never questioned that answer. But today I took a closer look and they do have a marking on the side of the little woman “Made in Hawaii with Lava by C0 C0 Joe No. 289” The little man has no markings. I am guessing by the markings on the bottom that maybe it was melted lava rocks poured into molds? I’m not sure, but I found a pair very close to mine on eBay listed for $119.
I went in search of some more information about the little figurines and found some interesting information about the legend of the Menehune. From the ToHawaii.com travel site it talks about the legend of the Menehune;
“Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favorite foods were bananas and fish.
The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.”
“This fishpond is said to have been built in just one night by the menehune, the mythical little people of Kauai. The menehune were master craftsmen who could accomplish amazing deeds in very little time. They used to live in the island’s forests and hid from humans, so during one night they came out and built the fishpond. They did this by lining up from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles (40 km) away, passing stones hand-by-hand.
The fishpond is located next to the Hulei’a Stream. A lava rock wall between the pond and the stream is 900 feet (274 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) high, which is amazing considering the fact that archaeologists estimate that the fishpond is around 1,000 years old. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.”
And this is a fun little fact if you believe the legend or even if you don’t:
“Even though the Menehune were said to be displaced when the first settlers arrived in Hawaii, some people still believe that the Menehune are roaming the islands, carrying out tricks on people. Indeed, an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as ‘Menehune.‘”
I have my doubts about the legends, but I will always smile and think fondly of my sweet grandmother whenever I look upon my little Menehune.
Do you have any cool travel treasure or fun family heirlooms?