Carving is a big part of our culture and my family's heritage.
I remember my first carving. I was working at the family farm in Ha'ateiho, Tongan Island as a child when I decided to take a break under a tree. There I began carving my first piece: a tiny canoe made out of taro root.
Carving was normal for island children. It was like a hobby. I learned from my father, who carved coral and seashells. Although he no longer is a craftsman, he taught me my skills.
I use traditional materials, including whale bone, cattle bone and wood. I also make luxury pieces out of fossilized ivory, which are particularly special because of the rarity of the material.
I come from a long line of carvers, although my relatives far in the past never considered themselves artists. Carving was simply a way of life. It was how they made fish hooks and weapons. It was how they shared their cultural history. Even the poles that supported their huts were carved with meaningful symbols. Some of the carvings relate the ancient Polynesian mythology of our gods and ancestors. Our work is sacred to us. We consider it a gift from the ancestors who shared our talents.
Makau Nui is a family business. I learned from my father and my Grandfather; I am teaching my son. I feel blessed to share my work with you. Each handcrafted piece conveys meaning and has a unique story. Many of my designs were born of my inspiration and imagination. Many others mirror the symbols carved by my Polynesian ancestors.
Over time, the world has moved on. Our methods of fishing and cooking -- even our language -- have changed. But two things that remain consistent are our dancing and our art. Carving gives me the opportunity to share my heritage, and it has granted me the privilege of meeting the many wonderful people who have embraced the spirit and beauty of my culture.
The strength of my forefathers, the belief of others, the simple joy of carving -- these things keep me true to my art and heritage. I love my work. I hope you do, too.
Artist : Ben Location
: 75-5744 Alii Drive, Kailua Kona, HI 96740