It is surprising that the name of the muumuu (in Hawaiian: mu’umu’u), which is typically a loose full-length dress or gown, derives from the Hawaiian term for ‘amputated’.
Modeling this stunning mu’umu’u for us today is Hopoelehua Hakuole, enjoying the sun on Lahaina Beach, with the island of Lana’i on the distant horizon. (Accenting Hopoelehua’s dark hair is a large hibiscus blossom.) Like many traditional muumuus, this fashionable work of art depicts motifs of Hawaiian history and heritage.
Nearest the neckline, of course, is a flock of Newell’s shearwater fleeing a ring of mountain peak craters belching smoke — most likely signifying Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Following evil eyes sprinkled among various geometrical Polynesian patterns are the glossily-lobed leaves of Plumeria pudica, sometimes called Frangipani.
Approaching the hem of this gown is a ring of marching mouth-to-tail green anole lizards, not native to the islands, but interlopers brought to Hawaii by human settlers over the centuries. Finally, hemming Hopoelehua’s mu’umu’u are alternating Maui Gold© pineapples and yin-yangs brought east from southeast Asia.
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