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The king’s personal belongings were buried with him. The chief’s servants were sacrificed and placed beside him, to assist in the journey to the afterlife. Hawaiians took great lengths to ensure that the deceased did not pass on to the afterlife barren. The deceased were given possessions to be buried with. It wasn’t uncommon to request to be buried with a specific item.


These possessions were known as moepū: moe means to sleep or to lie, and pū is along with. Hawaiians had a belief that the funerary objects had mana or power. These objects were also referred to as Hoʻomoe pū (put to sleep together). These items were clothing and food which were personal to the person who died. Hoʻomoe pū are tangible items: They are buried with the body as a comfort and substance in the mystical world. In Hawaiian tradition, hoʻomoe pū could also be a bribe or contract for good behavior on the part of the dead.


These moepu were created by skilled artisans and were made of wood, stone, shell or bone. These objects were personal items to the person. Example; If a warrior died in battle, his war gear would be buried with him, including his cape and weapons. The warrior would also be buried wearing or alongside his finest malo (loin-cloth). Hawaiians believed a warrior's personal funerary objects held great power solely for the warrior, not to anyone else. 


Oftentimes if the king was good to his people many servants would volunteer their lives to be a moepū or a companion to join him in the afterlife. The ali’i or chief only wanted someone sacrificed who was willing to join him on his journey; not a rebellious spirit. Hawaiians did not mindlessly kill people, they sacrificed people who wanted to go. If the chief was a good aliʻi to his people, many of his servants would volunteer to be sacrificed as a moepuʻu to give service to the chief.

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