Sacred Images

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In ancient Hawaii there were "Places of Refuge" for people who had broken a law and were in danger of being put to death (being put to death was the punishment for the breaking of nearly any law in ancient Hawaii). These places of refuge were actually special heiaus where the priests were authorized to perform cleansing ceremonies that usually lasted three days and which would permit the person to return to society without fear of harm. The trick was getting inside the heiau walls without being captured. The photo above shows a reconstructed sacred enclosure with a storage hut and spirit images which is part of the Pu'uhonua place of refuge in south Kona on the Big Island. Legend says that the complex was originally built by the Menehune people, master stoneworkers who may have preceded the Polynesians. History says that Kamehameha the Great stationed his troops around the complex to discourage lawbreakers from getting in, forcing the bravest to swim shark-infested waters to avoid punishment. To get there drive south from Kailua-Kona until you see the signs for Pu'uhonua.

Copyright by Aloha International 1999
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