Author: Beckwith, Martha W.
The Kumulipo (Beginning in deep darkness) is the sacred creation chant of a family of Hawaiian ali’i, or ruling chiefs. Composed and transmitted entirely in the oral tradition, its two thousand lines provide an extended geneaology proving the family’s divine origin and tracing the family history from the beginning of the world.
This chant remains as an authentic work of primitive literature. Moreover, it is one of the principal sources of information on Hawaiian mythology, early culture, political structure, and way of life.
The original text of the Kumulipo was first printed in Honolulu in 1889 from a manuscript copy in the possession of King Kalakaua. Several translations were made later, including one by Queen Lilioukalani, published in 1897. However, none was available in English when Martha Beckwith completed her own translation and detailed study, first published in 1951 by the University of Chicago Press.