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'Anu'u and Ki'i Akua at 'Ahu'ena Heiau

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'Anu'u and Ki'i Akua at 'Ahu'ena Heiau

'Anu'u (oracle tower) and Ki'i Akua (temple images) at 'Ahu'ena Heiau in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii's Big Island.

Photo by John Fischer

'Anu'u (right) has been often referred to as the oracle tower, because here the high priest received and proclaimed the answer of the gods to his petitions. This tower was the most distinctive feature of the temples of ruling chiefs and somewhat coparable to the steeples of churches.

Ki'i Akua (temple images) symbolized the presence of helpful gods who were ancestral to the worshippers. To visiting Europeans, Kamehameha once said, "These are my gods, whom I worship. Whether I do right or wrong (by European definition) I do not know. But I follow my faith, which cannot be wicked, as it commands me never to do wrong."

Carved with great virtuosity, ki'i akua of the distinctive Kona style are regarded as among the finest of all Polynesian art forms.

The tallest figure (left), crowned with an image of a golden plover, was Koleamoku, a god of healing.

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