Great Hawaiian Bazaar

The Great Hawaiian Bazaar

Octopus Lure

Whether of bone or mother-of-pearl, Byron Cooper’s astonishing replicas of ancient Hawaiian fishhooks are graced with a geometry of Euclidean elegance. Some are melded to polished hardwood shanks and tips, and fastened with a fiber cord that might require days of hours to replicate the 36-ply braids of its Bishop Museum original. The octopus lure is singular. In olden days when the sugar cane tasseled, the octopus came into the bay in great numbers, shy creatures that harbored a misguided infatuation with the red cowry and-stone lures that fishermen dragged along the sandy, sun-lit bottom. The choicest cowry was the deep red of a shade-ripened mountain apple, a color coaxed into fullness by steaming over a low fire of cane husks. When let down into the sea, the cowry and its companion stone swayed in a joyful dance that aroused the octopus to leap and fatally embrace them. Whether the squid lure elicits the same response from contemporary admirers, this extraordinary collection bespeaks a level of acumen and authenticity far removed from the commercial standard.

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ʻIke i ke au nui me ke au iki. – Knows the big currents and the little currents. (One who is very well versed.)

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