Except Their Sun (Mu'umu'u in Literature)
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Except Their Sun By Mamo Clark Rawley
Except Their Sun portrays a Hawaii with old gods, manapua men who travel on foot, and women who wear muʻumuʻu. When I stumbled upon this book on a shelf at Nā Mea Hawaiʻi, I was shocked to see a Hawaiian woman posing with the "King of Hollywood" himself, Clark Gable. Do not be fooled by her glamours portrait on the back cover, Rawley's book mentions nothing of her rise to Hollywood stardom. Rather, Mamo recalls the beauty and simplicity of her childhood in Hawaii. I was surprised to find many descriptions of muʻumuʻu and holokū worn by the women throughout her stories.
"She was gaunt and looked very tall in the elegant black silk holoku. She kicked at the long train of her holoku, and it fanned out on the floor like a peacock's tail. With both hands she quickly rearranged her small black hat encircled by a yellow feather lei; then she pulled at her black lace gloves."(12)
"I looked again at Aunty Beckey, dressed in the white holoku, and I saw that her hips were slowly circling while the folds of the skirt, down to the train behind, undulated in a series of broken lines." (71)
"Aunty Elehu disappeared into the ship; I saw that besides carrying the long train of her holoku, she carried many maile leis." (280)
Mamo Clark Rawley paints a picture of the old Hawaii that is familiar to local grown readers, but almost forgotten in modern times. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the old, but hopefully not lost Hawaii.