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Slings in Ancient Hawaii (Read 10327 times)
Gonzo808
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Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Jul 13th, 2008 at 7:44am
 
The missile weaponry of ancient Hawaii include slings, javelins and throwing weapons similar to axes. As opposing ancient Hawaiian armies closed upon each other stones and spears were said to fall from the sky like "rain water". These deadly weapons softened the enemy ranks by maiming and killing warriors before close quarter combat occurred.

   
Ancient Hawaiian Slings

When it came to warfare the sling was the weapon with the longest range and was the deadliest weapon. Bows and arrows were known in ancient Hawaii, however they were used only for games and hunting. This is similar to warfare in the ancient Greek world where contemporary writers and military historians mentions that sling weapons out ranged bows (at Thermopoly for example). Early Hawaiian's crafted rounded conical stones from the dense volcanic rock making an extremely deadly weapon. Rocks can be flung two to three times the speed thrown, distances from modern slingers using these archaic arms can be from 100 - 200 yards. These were fashioned out of a pouch woven of strips of hau situated in the center of longer plaited ropes.

Source: http://www.mythichawaii.com/weapons.htm

Why didn't the ancient Hawaiians use the bow?

The ancient Hawaiian warriors did have knowledge of the weapon, however they considered it a toy or for hunting. Slings (Ma'a) were for war. The reason the sling was the ancient Hawaiian warriors main missile weapon are many. Slings offered an advantage in range; this was true of the ancient Western world as well. In the battle of Thermopoly the Greeks were able to hold the Persian archers at bay with the greater range of their slings. This has been documented in several sources throughout the ancient world. The sling persisted as the longest ranged hand weapon until the advent of the long bow. It had other advantages in that its ammunition was readily available; in fact the heavy volcanic stones of Hawaii were perfect for this purpose. Slings also have the advantage of being easily carried, a slinger could carry several back up weapons with them on campaigns. Another advantage is that slings are not as adversely effected by weather as the bow. Wind can effect the flight of an arrow significantly. While it still effects a sling stones flights, sling weapons are less effected by wind. Rain, which is common on the Hawaiian Islands, can have a severe effect on bowstrings rendering bows useless. Slings were eventually phased out in western warfare during the middle ages due to plate armor, while a sling could kill someone with leather armor with blunt force, plate armor could not be penetrated. The bow however could pierce armor and it required less training to use, hence it eclipsed the sling.

Source: http://www.mythichawaii.com/hawaiian-weapons.htm
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #1 - Jul 14th, 2008 at 7:14am
 
Thanks for that interesting info. Do you have any pictures of a traditional Hawaiian sling, and do you know what slinging style was used?

Are you perhaps of Hawaiian native ancestry yourself?
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Gonzo808
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #2 - Jul 14th, 2008 at 2:28pm
 
Yes, I am part-Hawaiian.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures of Hawaiian slings, except for reconstructions which were dubious.

It seems the use of slings declined after firearms were introduced. By 1810, the Hawaiian Islands were united into a single Kingdom, so warfare ceased at that point.
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #3 - Jul 19th, 2008 at 7:16am
 
Gonzo,

Have you tried looking at polynesian slings and trying to recreate a hawaiian sling?

I know there are several ilustrations of southern pacific slings floating around.Just a thought

Marc Adkins

Gonzo808 wrote on Jul 14th, 2008 at 2:28pm:
Yes, I am part-Hawaiian.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any pictures of Hawaiian slings, except for reconstructions which were dubious.

It seems the use of slings declined after firearms were introduced. By 1810, the Hawaiian Islands were united into a single Kingdom, so warfare ceased at that point.

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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #4 - Jul 19th, 2008 at 10:55pm
 
The ma'a (sling) was also an important instrument used by the lua (the Hawaiian fighting art) warriors. Emory (note: Kenneth Emory, noted twentieth-century anthropologist) says the sling was more effective than the bow in Polynesian warfare for two reasons. First, the sling could be tucked in a malo (loincloth) during fighting, freeing both hands until it was needed. Also, the ammunition - unworked stones - could be found anywhere. All a warrior had to do was look on the ground. Slings were made of coconut fiber, plaited hala (pandanus tree, Pandanus odoratissimus) leaves, or hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus). In battle, first a stone was placed in the pocket of the sling. The sling was laid over the shoulder and "gripped in the left hand behind the back." After being stretched tight with both hands, the sling was let go from the left hand, swung around the head once with the right hand, and then released. The aim was to get the stone to travel as low to the ground as possible so that it would be hard to evade.

In "The Story of Kihapi'ilani," Samuel Kamakau describes the sling's effectiveness. Ho'olae-makua, the chief of Hana, "fought with those who slung the solid 'ala stones of Kawaipapa, the skilled throwers of the smooth pebbles of Waika'ahiki, the expert stone-tossers of Waikiu and Honokalani, and the quick stone-slinging lads of Ka'eleku." The Hawai'i island warriors had a difficult time getting to Ho'olae-makua's fortress atop Ka'uiki hill because of the "expert sling-shooters [who] did not miss a blade of grass or a hair, [and] sent the stones flying as fast as lightning."

Source: "LUA: Art of the Hawaiian Warrior" by Richard Kekumuikawaiokeola Paglinawan, Mitchell Eli, Moses Elwood Kalauokalani and Jerry Walker, with Kristina Pilaho'ohau'oli Kikuchi-Palenapa. (pages 51 and 52).

I have taken the liberty of adding appropriate explanatory notes and translations to the above text.

The photo attached is from page 51 of the book. It is a sling and various sizes of sling stones. The photographer is David Franzen of Bishop Museum.
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« Last Edit: Jul 20th, 2008 at 2:47am by Gonzo808 »  

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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #5 - Jul 20th, 2008 at 5:44pm
 
I've got one like that - bigkahuna made it :-)
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #6 - Aug 5th, 2008 at 10:27am
 
If you go to the web site for the Bishop Museum and look under collections you will find a Ton of pictures of Pacific Island made slings.
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #7 - Aug 5th, 2008 at 1:51pm
 
Here's a nice site on hawaiian weapons and fighting ways:
http://www.olohe.com/weapons/maa.html
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #8 - Aug 6th, 2008 at 1:09am
 
bigkahuna wrote on Aug 5th, 2008 at 10:27am:
If you go to the web site for the Bishop Museum and look under collections you will find a Ton of pictures of Pacific Island made slings.



I havent found anything so far, I got to this http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnologydb/entire4.asp?NAME1=&NAME2=sling&MATERIAL... but nothing seems to have any pics....
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #9 - Aug 7th, 2008 at 8:51pm
 
Gonzo,

Thanks for the interesting info on the Hawaii slings. Is there anyone there who keeps the tradition alive? I can't quite figure out the method of throwing from the description... it sounds an intriguing method.

Hmm.. I find similar difficulties with the Bishop Museum site. Are they reorganizing it?
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #10 - Aug 23rd, 2008 at 10:11am
 
May be there is a simple explanation why they saw a bow merely as a toy.
For a good bow you need good wood like yew. Perhaps no kind of tree was really suited for bows in Hawaii.
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #11 - Oct 17th, 2008 at 8:19am
 
Google books link, Plants in Hawaiian culture, page 111

There are some pretty good constructional details of two types of Hawaiian ma'a (sling).  Oddly, it says that the sling stone was placed with its long axis along the length of the pouch, which would seem to defeat the idea of getting a rifled spin...

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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #12 - Oct 25th, 2008 at 6:23am
 

http://www.nma.gov.au/cook/artefact.php?id=329

...

Quote:
New Caledonia, l. 220 cm

The sling consists of a cord made of two twisted plant fibre strings about 2 mm thick. At the pouch for the sling stone, over a length of 10.5 cm, three skeins of fibres are braided into a plait. One end is formed by two loops with a length of 9.5 cm, into which one or two fingers can be inserted. The other end consists of a tuft about 8 cm long and made of the same fibre material as the rest of the sling.


Another sling: http://www.nma.gov.au/cook/artefact.php?id=157

And a hip bag for sling stones: http://www.nma.gov.au/cook/artefact.php?id=333
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #13 - Feb 18th, 2009 at 1:09am
 
JustKnot wrote on Aug 5th, 2008 at 1:51pm:
Here's a nice site on hawaiian weapons and fighting ways:
http://www.olohe.com/weapons/maa.html


Kaihewalu, the grandmaster of that system, is an old friend of my Dad's.  Cool
His book is very informative on hawaiian martial arts. I don't recall them mentioning slinging in it, but maybe that's a sign I should flip through the book again.  Tongue
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Re: Slings in Ancient Hawaii
Reply #14 - Nov 9th, 2010 at 9:23pm
 
There is a nice Hawaiian sling and some stone missiles in the bishops museam on Oahu. The examples the muesam has are made of braided jute and appear to be around 36" or so from tip to pouch.
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