Death Rites and Hawaiian Royalty

Funerary Practices in the Kamehameha and Kalākaua Dynasties, 1819–1953


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About the Book

The bones of Hawaii’s King Kamehameha the Great were hidden at night in a secret location. In contrast, his successor Kamehameha III had a half-mile-long funeral procession to the Royal Tomb watched by thousands. Drawing on missionary journals, government publications and Hawaiian and English language newspapers, this book describes changes in funerary practices for Hawaiian royalty and details the observance of each royal death beginning with that of Kamehameha in 1819. Funeral observances of Western royalty provided an extravagant model for their Hawaiian counterparts yet many indigenous practices endured. Mourners no longer knocked out their teeth or tattooed their tongues but mass wailing, feather standards and funeral dirges continued well into the 20th century. Dozens of historic drawings and photographs provide rare glimpses of the obsequies of the Kamehameha and Kalākaua dynasties. Descriptions of the burial sites provide locations of the final resting places of Hawaii’s royalty.

About the Author(s)

The late Ralph Thomas Kam was the author of several articles in the Hawaiian Journal of History. He lived in Kaneohe, Hawai‘i.

Bibliographic Details

Ralph Thomas Kam

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 73 photos, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6846-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2861-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 3
Death of Kamehameha the Great 7
Death of Likelike and Traditional Hawaii Mourning Practices 8
An Early Model 9
Lying in State 13
Funerals 13
Processions 14
Royal Deaths After the Overthrow 14

1. Royal Deaths 17
Royal Deaths During the Kamehameha Dynasty 17
Royal Deaths During the Kalākaua Dynasty 98
Royal Deaths During the Provisional Government and the Republic of Hawaii 138
Royal Deaths During the Territory of Hawaii 146
2. Burial Places 177
Fort Tomb 180
Tomb near Halekamani 180
Moku‘ula Tomb 180
Royal Tomb at Pohukaina, Honolulu (1825) 181
Mauna ‘Ala, Royal Mausoleum at Kawānanakoa, Nu‘uanu, Honolulu 184
John Young Tomb 187
Kamehameha Tomb (1887) 187
Wyllie Tomb (1904) 190
Kalakaua Crypt (1910) 192
Kawānakoa Tomb at Mauna ‘Ala 198
Lunalilo Mausoleum (1875) 205
3. Undertakers 209

Conclusion 215
Glossary 217
Chapter Notes 219
Bibliography 235
Index 237