MANAOLA honors kapa tradition with the Hoʻoniʻoniʻo print, created as an homage to the guild of women known as wāhine hoʻoniʻoniʻo as well as the goddess Laʻahana. The wāhine were talented graphic artists who worked in the hale kua (the womens beating house where kapa was produced) and were in charge of the final stages of kapa decoration.
Hoʻoniʻoniʻo means “to spot or streak,” a simple geometric style used in ancient prints and often seen in archaic kapa fragments. The 3 center lines of this pattern were created using a lapa tool, or a kapa liner often made of kauila wood, ‘ohe (bamboo) or tortoise shell sewn onto laths. This modern offering is MANAOLA’s interpretation of reimagined Hawaiian stripes.
The simplicity of Hoʻoniʻoniʻo showcases the designer’s affinity for ancient artistry as well as the foundation of kapa design. Through this print, MANAOLA celebrates the women of this tradition as well as the goddess who guided and inspired their creativity, Laʻahana (laʻa meaning sacred, hana meaning work), the patron diety of the sacred arts.
As its name denotes, the Nīʻau pattern mimics the literal mid rib frond of the coconut leaf. From this sturdy spine or stem, narrow leaflets form clean geometric lines represented in this print as an homage to the profound niu or coconut tree. Hawaiians, like many Polynesian cultures, hold the coconut tree in high regard for its sustainability and multi-purpose usage, utilizing all parts of the tree which yield materials for medicine, fuel, food and shelter.
Hawaiian mythology also refers to niu as a kinolau or earthly manifestation of the god Kū, who represents fishing, farming and war. This staple canoe plant is key for survival, and wai niu (coconut water) is considered sacred, used in ceremony and special occasions because it exists in the elevation of the gods. Wai niu is also the only water that can be offered to the gods as it is the only water that is not touched by human hands.
In Hawaiian culture, Mauna a Wākea—the tallest mountain on Hawai‘i Island, more commonly referred to today as Maunakea—is revered as a sacred place. In mo‘olelo (stories), the mauna (mountain) is considered to be the child of Wākea, the sky father, and Papawalinu‘u, the earth mother. Upon the mountain summit, Wākea charged the creation god Kāne with custodianship over the mauna. Kāne gave birth to four fully-formed water goddess: Poli‘ahu, the goddess of the snow, Waiau the guardian of the lake, Kahoupōkāne, the guardian of both the summit of Mauna a Wākea and the summit of its sister, Maunaloa, and Lilinoe, the goddess of the mists.
MANAOLA honors the four sacred goddesses of the mountain through the Mauna print, which features four different mauna shapes. At the top is the shape representing Poli‘ahu. Waiau’s is placed at the bottom. Lilinoe’s is on the left and Kahoupōkāne’s on the right side of the pattern which, symbolically, is closest to Maunaloa and the older Mount Hualālai.
The foundation of MANAOLA’s designs begin with the cultural values of nature and Hawaiian art traditions. As a designer, Manaola Yap seeks inspiration for his original carvings from repetitious patterns found in nature.
The Kapa print transforms simple geometric shapes representing Hale Kua, the womenʻs beating house where the final stages of kapa beating and adornment were completed and hung to dry. The line of negative space between the hale represents water, an essential element used in processing kapa.
By placing the Kapa in repetition, it forms a symmetrical reflection of the hale, a mirror of the indigenous art form and its modern-day reflection in contemporary Hawaiian designs. This print was created as an homage to the time-honored tradition of kapa making and the many kapa masters who have inspired Yapʻs career.
The ‘Upena print is based on another classic pattern found in native Hawaiian design. The art of creating an ‘upena (net) was an important craft in Hawai‘i used in everyday practice to catch both ﬁsh and fowl. The traditional ‘aho (cord) was knotted and tied in different sizes depending on the target catch. Manaola’s interpretation of this design was inspired by the carved, wooden anvils used to pound watermark designs into raw kapa. He pays special attention to the pattern, which features detailed pūpū, or hollow depressions forming circular shapes, inside each eye of the pattern.
MANAOLA’s ‘Upena print represents the retainment of love, knowledge and good karma, while also directing the release of energies that do not serve us well. As the purpose of the upena is to gather necessities, he hopes to inspire the wearer to practice mindfulness, to catch hold of positive energy in your net and to let the rest ﬂow through the eyes of the ‘upena.
The Nanaka print mimics the rough skin of the ‘ulu (breadfruit), a staple crop of Hawai‘i and symbol for growth. Though the literal meaning of nanaka refers to the unique texture of its skin, MANAOLA’s interpretation also honors the ‘ulu as a means of nourishment
In Hawaiian folklore, the ‘ulu tree is revered as a kinolau (earthly embodiment of a god) of Haumea, the goddess of fertility. The designer pays homage to Haumea as well as the beloved breadfruit through the Nanaka print to encourage abundance and growth for those who wear this print.
The skill of of weaving has been revered as one of the most prominent art forms in Hawaiʻi. Manaola honors the tradition of ulana (to weave) with this bold pattern depicting traditional lauhala (woven hala leaves) with intricate design work. The significant woven pattern is symbolizes the weaving of the Hawaiian islands into a tight knit community. Manaola intends to connect the wearer of the Ulana print to the land in the same way that the Hawaiian community is deeply connected with it—woven into the very foundation of the islands.
At sunset, looking out across the waters at Pebble Beach on Hawai‘i Island, one can often see the ominous silhouette of a shark’s dorsal ﬁn circling in the sea. This striking visual was the inspiration for the Lālani Kalalea print. The linear, kalalea (prominent) pattern evokes the harsh, sharp edge of the shark’s teeth, the acute angle of its fins and the aggressive nature of the manō itself. To balance these strong angles, Manaola evokes the gentle grace and elegance of the shark’s swimming pattern to create an unexpectedly sensual and profound design that accentuates not only the fluid motions of the shark but also flatters the figure of those who wear this print.
The Kaimana (diamond) print transforms the simple shape of its namesake into a powerful geometric design that captures the essence of the beautiful, starry Hawaiian sky. The Kaimana print honors the ancient Pacific art of wayﬁnding, a navigation system employed by Native Hawaiians and other Pacific cultures who navigated their ocean travels using the stars as a guide.