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Nā Lei o Hawai`i
Types of Lei

E Komo Mai!
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Types of Lei
`A`ohe pau ka `ike i ka hālau ho`okāhi
All knowledge is not taught in the same school

It is necessary to remember that from ancient times there has been a certain amount of variation in terminology between different islands, districts, and families. The Hawaiian culture and language are far more complex, diverse, and varied than would be indicated by most tourist publications, or even Western school texts.


wili - wind, twist, crank, coil. A corkscrew-type twist - as found in Porky Pig's tail and the seed pod of the wili-wili. Two different methods go by this name. In one, the lei is made by by winding fiber around successive short lengths of the decorative material. Sometimes a base material such as lauhala, a thick raffia braid, etc. is used to make wrapping easier. In the other, multiple strands of the lei material are twisted to form a loose rope-like strand.


       Maile is the most commonly seen lei in the simple wili style. At right, a close-up showing how the bark is twisted.                       
          At left, Leilehua wears lei po`o (head lei) and lei 'ā'ī of loke (rose) in the more complex style of wili. At right, Kahalelaukoa wears a lei po`o of several different flowers and foliage in the wili style. She also wears maile in the simple wili style.





          Mary wears a lei wili of `umi`umi-o-Dole, or Spanish moss. `Umi`umi-o-Dole, named for Governor Sanford Dole's beard, was introduced in the 1800s, and became a popular ornamental and lei plant. Even today, it festoons many local gardens, lending an exotic grace. An elegant lei, it is often worn with a royal blue, or a black, gown. Because of its silvery color, it is sometimes used as a substitute for hinahina, the native beach heliotrope. However, except in color, they look nothing alike.

Right, hinahina, the native Hawaiian beach heliotrope.