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Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 1:33 am


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In Polynesian mythology, the Menehune are similar to elves or fairies. They are trickster beings, though usually merely mischievous and not cruel. The chiefs of the Menehune are called Alii Menehune.
The Menehune range from six inches to two feet (15-60 cm) tall. They are always naked but are covered by long hair. They are afraid of owls. When they become too mischievous and cause too much chaos, the owl god, Paupueo, sends all the owls to chase them into the forest. They enjoy singing, sports (including archery) and dancing.
In Hawai'ian legends, the Menehune are stonemasons and other craftsman, each specializing in a distinct handicraft. The legends claim that the Menehune built temples, fishponds, and even highways. They make canoes, build houses, and do many of the pleasant things fairies are always doing.
It is also told that when the ancestors of today's native Hawai'ians arrived on the islands, they found dams, temples and other structures built by the Menehune, who lived in caves. Some Hawai'ian men married Menehune females, and had to teach them how to create fire and eat cooked food.
Since the term Menehune is also used to describe the original settlers of Hawai'i while Manahune is used to describe the original settlers of Tahiti, scholars have theorized that the legendary Menehune might be based on the historical Marquesans, the first seafaring Polynesians.
The most likely theory, however, is that the legends of the Menehune are a post-European contact mythology created by adaption of the term manahune (which by the time of the settling of the Hawai'ian Islands had acquired a meaning of "lowly people") to European legends of brownies (Luomala 1951). Menehune are not mentioned in pre-contact mythology; the legendary "overnight" creation of the Alekoko fishpond, for example, finds its equivalent in the legend (Nordhoff 1874) about the creation of a correponding structure on O'ahu, which was supposedly indeed completed in a single day - not by menehune, but, as a show of power, by a local ali'i who demanded every one of his subjects to appear at the construction site and assist in building.


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