THE ANCIENT ART OF SURFING: Riding ancient waves

Surfing is an Ancient Hawaiian tradition and one of the oldest sports still practiced in the world. Wave-sliding - he’e nalu - was a popular pastime in Hawaii long before the arrival of Europeans. Rather than considering it an extreme sport for adrenaline junkies, Ancient Hawaiians revered the art of surfing and made it an important part of their culture. They made their own board shapers and carried out a sacred ritual on the trees from which they carved their surfboards. They also asked kahunas – priests – to pray to the sea for good surf. The kahunas performed various chants and dances to persuade the sea to give them the right waves for surfing. Surfing was also linked to politics, reputation and social ranking: the best surfer in the tribe became the chief and was honored with a surfboard made from the village’s best tree, which he used to keep himself in top physical shape. Surfing competitions were organized to resolve disputes, and there were even beaches especially reserved for the upper class. Sadly, Polynesian surfing almost died out after the arrival of European settlers and missionaries in the late 18th century. Intent on imposing a Western lifestyle, they discouraged all forms of native Hawaiian culture and by the 1900s, only a handful of locals were still skilled in the ancient Polynesian art of building surfboards. Luckily, surfing has since made a comeback and locals and tourists alike flock to the beaches to catch some epic Hawaiian waves.
Apr 1, 2015
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