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Games
Games of physical strength
Games of skill
Water sports
Quiet games
Games' decline
Games Sources



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Quiet games

Hawaiians played different types of games indoors and during non-daylight hours. Some were board games or games involving game pieces, others were guessing games or verbal games and riddles.

Simple children's games were hei (cat's cradle), pala `ie (loop and ball), pahipahi (slapping hands together), hu (spinning tops) and kimo (jacks). Guessing games included no`a (finding a pebble under a pile of sand or piece of kapa) and puhenehene (finding a pebble on a person).

Konane is a Hawaiian board game similar to checkers. It's played on a board with 64 moveable white and black pebble playing pieces. Hawaiians used large stones or boulders as playing surfaces, adding depressions to hold the game pieces. They also constructed portable game boards of wood or stone. Playing pieces were made of wave-polished lava stone and white coral. Konane was a popular game for both ali`i and maka`ainana, men and women.

Adult games could be mischievous and sexual. `Ume was a game of sexual partner-swapping played by commoners. Men and women gathered around a bonfire while the leader, or mau, chanted a suggestive song. The mau used a long wand trimmed with bird feathers to single out a couple. The man and woman, even if not married to each other, would leave the group and enjoy each other's company for the rest of the night. The spouses of those selected had no grounds for jealousy as they would have been entitled to the same behavior had they been selected.

Kilu was a similar game played only by ali`i. An equal number of men and women sat opposite each other and slid coconut shell saucers across the floor, trying to hit the wooden pin positioned in front of a player of the opposite sex. Chanting and taunts accompanied the game. A victorious throw won a kiss from the man or woman whose pin had been hit.

Hawaiians were also fond of word games and `olelo nane, or riddles. Many hours passed in contests of words. Some were as simple as naming objects and countering with words of opposite or parallel meanings or sounds. `Olelo no`eau, or proverbial sayings, were recited or composed. Riddles, speaking with hidden meanings (kaona), and linguistic brainteasers were common pastimes.

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