Excerpt from Fornander Collection of Hawaiian Antiquities and Folk-Lore, Vol. 4: The Hawaiians' Account of the Formation of Their Islands and Origin of Their Race, With the Traditions of Their Migrations, Etc;, As Gathered From Original Sources; Memoirs of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
After many years of collecting the antiquarian and traditional lore of the Polynesian Race in general, with the object of identifying the origin and migrations of the Hawaiians in particular, which formed the basis of his scholarly work on that subject, Abraham Fornander, with a corps of native helpers of known ability (notably S. M. Kamakau, the historian; J. Kepilino, and S. N. Haleole), gathered from among the people throughout the group of a most valuable collection of material covering Hawaiian mythology, traditions, meles and genealogies. Following his death in 1887, after a residence in the land of his adoption of forty-five years, this collection of manuscript was purchased from his estate for preservation by the late Charles R. Bishop, and later was turned over by him to the Trustees of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum.
Upon examination and translation of the various papers comprising the collection, the Trustees decided to share this treasure with the reading public by issuing it, in several series, among the Memoirs of the Museum. Most of the translation was completed under the late Dr. W. D. Alexander's supervision. Following his death it devolves upon another to carry out the desires of the Trustees in its revision and editing for publication. In doing so several amendments and extensions are embodied, but only such changes as the collector himself would doubtless have made had its preparation for the press passed through his experienced and painstaking hands, with the view of preserving it as "The Fornander Collection" of antiquities, traditions, legends, genealogies and meles of Hawaii. The order in which they were designed by him is observed, except in the enlargement of this first series to embrace the historic traditional papers in relatively chronological order. The rest of the series comprises the legendary, antiquarian and miscellaneous papers and meles.
This collection of Hawaiian folk-lore was gathered, as stated, some forty or more years ago. Several of the papers have been published in the native press, and a few, from translations which have appeared, will be found familiar to English readers, but by far the largest part comes to the reading public, Hawaiians and foreigners, for the first time; issued as Hawaiian literature, simply, irrespective of variance in writers, or inaccuracy in historic narrations. Although some of these papers are lengthy, yet if any demerit is to be ascribed to the collection, it likely would be due to incompleteness, or brevity, rather than to undue extension - a fault that has of late years come into vogue in Hawaiian story-writing. Nor could these tales be secured from original sources today. The bards, or haku mele, and chanters have passed away, and even those capable of interpreting the mele and antiquarian subjects are few. Therefore, the preservation by publication of this collection in the vernacular, with translations thereof, will increase not only its literary interest, but will add to its scientific value, while the notes accompanying the English version will aid the reader in the interpretation of ancient Hawaiian thought and customs.
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