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Hawaiian Legends of Tricksters and Riddlers

According to some of the oldest and least-known of Hawaii's legends, man became a trickster to survive, and later became a riddler to win a place for himself in society. Vivian Thompson's tales, written for youngsters, are based on some of the earliest recorded versions of these legends; they instruct and delight readers of today as the oral traditions of old captivated their audiences. The first voyagers to Hawaii were filled with terror of the unknown terrain inhabited by evil spirits. Fearless fellows, tricksters – those who could match wits not only against nature, spirits, and monsters but also against chiefs and kings who held the power of life and death – became the heroes of the common people. As trickster legends emerged from primitive Hawaii, so riddler legends grew from later Hawaii, where mental as well as physical skills were admired.

Vivian L. Thompson

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