Fishing Gods, Shrines, Prayers
Ko`a is an offshore fishing ground and also the term for a fishing shrine. Fishermen's shrines were still actively used in the early 20th century, a 100 years after Hawaii's main temples were destroyed. Often simply a flat rock on which a fish offering was laid, shrines were meant to attract fish and insure a good catch.
The first fish caught of each variety was offered to the gods, placed on the left side of an alter for Kane and Kanaloa. Hawaiians also worshipped many other fishing gods (akua).
Hawaiians offered up prayers at every point in the fishing process, from preparing olona fibers for fishing line to setting the hook in the fish's mouth. Chiefs prayed with kahuna (priests) at dedicated large fishing shrines, but individual fishermen prayed at ko`a and as they went about their work.
Ku`ula, the principal fishing god, was a great fisherman in ancient times. Kanemakua was a form of the god Kane appearing as an old man. Kalamainu was the goddess of fish trap makers. Other dieties were Kapukapu, Kinilau, Kanekoa, and Hinahele.
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