Issue 7: Taboo

Published July 2011

In this issue, we delve into stories that hold sacred meaning to Hawai‘i, broaching subject matter that may be considered forbidden.

Derived from the Tongan word tabu or tapu and the Hawaiian kapu, “taboo” is deeply rooted in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. On one hand, it refers to the idea of something being forbidden because it is sacred, to be held in high respect and esteem; on the other, it refers to something being forbidden because it is abhorrent, looked down upon by all members of society. There is such an idea as universal taboo, acts which are so vile you would think everyone to be opposed (i.e. murder, incest, cannibalism, rape), but culture – and human nature – dictates differently.

We are not endorsing or condoning any of the ideas put forth in this issue, but simply presenting topics that are weaved into our cultural heritage. Regardless of whether or not you agree with these practices, these are the experiences that have and will continue to infuse our everyday, some new (as in the case of graffiti’s resurgence as a tool for social change), some old (as in cock fighting’s plantation era history) and some really old (as in ancestral and genealogical kapu dating back to the days of Kamehameha).

The cover for this issue bears no images, and it was deliberately done so, because for most, taboo is relative. We will not find common ground with 100 percent of the people, 100 percent of the time. We will disagree. One person’s act of beautification may be another’s desecration; a lifestyle choice made by one may completely disagree with that of another. Still we must find ways to respect and care for one another. Because that is the only certainly, and one that’s truly Hawaiian. Enjoy. Lisa Yamada Publisher/Editor

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