“He hiwahiwa au na ka mākua a he lei `ā`ī na ke kūpuna.”
(I am the lei of my parents - a precious, cherished lei of my grandparents.)
The Kinolau Lei Signature Series celebrates the beautiful tradition of lei making and the intricate process of creating these sacred adornments. From the protocols of gathering, to the cleaning and preparation, to the assembling of the garland - the time and care that every step calls for is deeply rooted in the intention of aloha. Every flower, fern, leaf, feather, and shell has a purpose and meaning, reflecting the transcendental interconnectedness we share with one another and the natural world. Lei are a source of protection, an access point to the portal of creation, and a physical representation of kinship to the elemental nations. Adorning our bodies with the beauty and symbols of the land serves as a reminder of our profound and unwavering connection to the places and people that give us life, in turn, guiding us to remember the long line of love in which we descend from and the love that we shall pass down. Gifting the lei we make is one of the most affectionate expressions of aloha, an act of heart forward kindness grounded in the life ways of our kūpuna. This collection is our offering to you - an exquisite lei of color and floral design woven together with our deepest gratitude and aloha.
The eyes of Laukapalili look out into the world with a confident and grounded gaze, centered in the beauty of her soul and spirit. Her expression exudes a humble and deep knowing of who she is and where she comes from. Her lei adornments are made of various ferns found in the forests of Hawai`i honoring the Goddess of hula, Laka, and her many revered Kinolau (body forms).
The symbolism embedded in the repetitious layering of this pattern is an ode to dancing with one heart, one mind, and one spirit in the hālau hula (school of traditional dance). The kupukupu fern represents growth and reflects the interwoven connections cultivated between the dancers as they learn what it means to move together with lōkahi (unity). The `Ama`u fern represents unfurling energy and reflects the reverberation in the voice of a chanter. The palai represents light and reflects the brilliance of Laka and her wisdom and guidance. The intention of this design is to empower all who will wear Laukapalili to celebrate their mana (power) and unique beauty.
Manaola honors the transference of strength, resilience, and grace from generation to generation with the Ka Leilehua design. Like the first budding of the Liko to the full bloom of the flower, the imagery of this creation reflects one’s life journey from youth to maturity. The lei po`o (lei worn on the head) adorning Ka Leilehua mirrors the different phases of a person’s maturation with the stages of growth in a blossom. In the vertical placement and succession of the pattern, the lei po`o becomes the lei `ā`ī (neck lei) for the next woman in line, a visual expression of the perpetual flow of genealogical knowledge and wisdom passed down through time and space. We welcome you to see yourself, the women who came before you, and the women who will come after you in the imagery of this design.
Manaola presents the Kalihilehua design inspired by the phases of maturation that he sees in the women that raised him. Manaola drew this pattern using the fine fringe of the lehua blossom as a point of revelation to showcase its stages of metamorphosis from `ōpu`u (seed pod), to mu`o (leaf bud), to popohe (full round blossom). The imagery in this design praises one’s journey through physical, spiritual, and intellectual evolution. The way the `ōhi`a trees grow teaches us to be pa`a (steadfast) in who we are as we continue to blossom in our growth and experience. We invite you to reflect on your own journey when adorning yourself in this elegant print.
The Kinolau Liko print pays homage to the cherished bond of sisterhood and brotherhood between siblings. The way the leaves of the liko exists in pairs reminded Manaola of this special kind of familial connection. This pattern is a lei design made with lehua buds of different sizes, representing the many dimensions of the divine feminine, the art of genealogical symmetry, and the spirit of sacred geometry. The word Liko, meaning leaf bud, youth, and or descendant, is often used poetically when speaking of a new generation of Hawai`i rising. The symbolism in this design is grounded in the hope that we may continue to practice and pass down the traditions and lifeways of our people to our `ōpio (youth) so that our culture will thrive and flourish in these ever changing times and the times to come.
The `Ama`u fern serves as the inspiration for this design in the Lei Signature Series. In ancient times, the water keepers would look for the changing color of the `Ama`u fern after a big rain to gauge where the water was traveling underground. This wayfinding practice would guide them to the most abundant places to dig and collect. The repetitious spiral pattern depicts the curl of the young fern and symbolizes the currents of freshwater that flow from the uplands to the sea. The poetic nuance of the quest for this source and sustenance of life, ka wai ola, aligns with our human experience in the quest for knowledge and inspiration within and without. The `Ama`u fern also flourishes in the fiery lands of Pele, being one of the first plants to grow out of new land after a lava flow cools and settles, providing an excellent setting for wind blown seeds such as the `ōhi`a lehua to germinate. `Ama`u teaches us to stand in our resilience and to be guided by the sacred source that connects us to all things.