Language of Lei

haku - v. to compose, to invent; to arrange or put in order, as a braid or plait

haku - n. three-ply braid. A method of making a lei by using a base material, such as soft lā`ī, and braiding it while adding the decorative plant material into each wrap of the braid. Lei laukukui and lei laua`e are typically made with this method.

haku mele - poet, one who composes songs. Many songs are composed as lei for cherished individuals.

hili - braid or plait. A method of making a plaited lei in which the plaited material is also the decorative material. Lei palapalai and lei kauna`oa often are made using this style.

hilo - twist, double helix, intertwine. A method of making a lei by twisting two strands together to form a rope. The popular and simple lei lā`ī is made using this method. It also is another method of making the lei kauna`oa.

hīpu`u - a method of making a lei by knotting together the stems of the decorative plant material. Various knotting techniques are used, including overhand, and square knots. Sometimes several strands made in this fashion will be braided or twisted together using hili, hilo, or wili techniques. It requires a very long stem on the decorative material. Some lei laukukui and lei laupohuehue are made with this method. (Same as nīpu`u, kīpu`u)

humu, humuhumu, humupapa, kuipapa - sew to a backing, basting stitch. A method of making a lei by sewing the decorative material to a backing such as lauhala, paper, or felt. Lei bouganvilla and feather hat lei often are made with this method.

kamalei - the most precious lei in Hawaiian culture, a child. The child is crafted by interweaving the love of the parents.

kīpu`u - a method of making a lei by knotting the stems of the plant material. (See hīpu`u, nīpu`u)

kui - pierce, piercing stitch. A method of making a lei by sewing or piercing the decorative material with a needle and stringing it onto a thread. There are several styles of lei kui. Among them: 1) kui pololei - pierced down the throat of the blossom and out the petiole base. 2) kui poepoe - strung like a wheel so the face of the flowers are directly away from the thread. 3) kui lau - strung side to side forming a flat band. (See kuipapa)

lei hulu - feather lei. Still higly prized, these lei were once the sepcial adornment of royalty.

lei pāpale - any lei worn on a hat.

lei po`o - any lei worn on the head.

lei pūpū - shell lei

lei pūpū o Ni`ihau - lei made from the rare shells of the island of Ni`ihau, they are extremely valuable

mele lei - poem, chant, song created as a gift for a loved one.

nīpu`u - a method of making a lei by knotting the stems of the plant material. (See hīpu`u, kīpu`u)

pauku – “sections,” a style in which the decorative material used in making the lei is arranged in sections or bands, often alternating.

wili - wind, twist, crank, coil. A corkscrew-type twist - as found in Porky Pig's tail and the seed pod of the wili-wili tree. In the other, multiple strands of the lei material are twisted to form a loose rope-like strand.

wili poepoe - A technique in which the lei is made by winding fiber around successive short lengths of the decorative material, binding them together into a “rope.” Sometimes a base material such as lauhala, a thick raffia braid, etc. is used to make wrapping easier.

Ashley Kaneko