Chinaman's Hat - The Giant Lizard

Is there really a man living under Chinaman's hat?

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• General: Educational • General: History
• General: Legends / Mythology

Matt Anderson's Take
Guide Series: Hawaiian Mythology
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One of east Oahu's coolest islets (small, offshore island) is called Mokoli'i in Hawaiian but it's most commonly known as Chinaman's Hat. The reason is obvious, because it looks like a classic Chinese style "bamboo cone" hat.

But is there more to that name? Many people believe that ancient Hawaiian legend says that there is an actual Chinaman living under that hat. Look more closely and that appears to be more of a modern day story made famous by Dean Howell who made an amazing painting that shows a Chinaman living under the islet.

As it turns out, there is still a lot of ancient mythology surrounding Chinaman's Hat. It's said that Hi'iaka, the sister of Pele - The Volcano Goddess, slew a giant lizard and threw its tail back into the ocean while the islet is what is left of the lizard's back. The back of the lizard still pokes up through the water today and that is how Mokoli'i, or Chinaman's Hat, came about. Or so the legend goes!

For more on the islet be sure to read Chinaman's Hat Trail (Mokolii Island).
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