24 Aug

Support Your Calabash

Our local chapter of the American Cancer Society is launching a program to raise money specifically for Breast Cancer programs and services here in Hawai’i. Funds raised will go directly to education, support, look & feel better programs, screening, mammograms, a funded research position and more!

Part of the program is an exhibit of altered bras, and here’s my contribution.

  Support your Calabash

It’s titled “Support Your Calabash.”

I’m assuming the word calabash itself was adopted from the portuguese immigrants brought to work the plantations. I do know that it refers to gourds used as bowls to eat out of. Traditionally, family meals were eaten out of shared bowls, and the term “calabash cousins” means people who eat together  — they may not be blood related, but they’re family just the same. The staple food in those bowls is poi. Poi is made from the taro plant which Hawaiian legend says is our brother, born of Father Heaven and Daughter Earth before man. It is the lifeblood of the land and the people.

My bra represents two calabash filled with poi, my metaphor for a woman’s nurturing breasts — the lifeblood of the family. That “melons” (and by association, probably “gourds” and therefore “calabash”) is slang for “breasts” doesn’t hurt.

Calabash detail

In the center of the bra are the plumeria blossoms always associated with the islands, but also with a bit of a dark side. Setting off the plumeria are red lehua flowers for Pele, the goddess of fire, because any woman battling cancer needs a strong presence beside her. Of course, I also had to include a lei. This one represents maile leaves, sacred to Laka the goddess of the hula and worn for celebrations. It’s scent is also associated with ghosts, so I think it (and the plumeria) appropriate for walking the fine line between celebrating life and acknowledging the possibility of death. Twisted in with the maile leaves is a strand of mokihana pods used for their spicy scent since ancient times. I believe both maile and mokihana are also associated with healing. The calabash are “set” on a lauhala mat — the traditional all-purpose mats woven from the leaves of the hala grass. 

Calabash back

Bras will be displayed in a Gallery at Making Strides, an event planned by ACS on Sat. Oct 3, 2009 and will be auctioned off at a charity event in October, 2009.


BTW, if you want to participate, send your size 36C altered bra to Rubber Stamp Plantation by September 15th, or contact me to sponsor my bra!

8 thoughts on “Support Your Calabash

  1. Creative and beautiful. I hope that your bra and story are enjoyed by others as much as I enjoyed it and that it brings many dollars for the charity.

  2. Are the calibash something you can find in Hawaii or did you make them from something? Anyway, I love the story/metaphors/imagery. Nicely done.

  3. a lot of afterthought in this bra. i never would have been that clever to make all those “links”…
    and beyond that – it’s pretty! 🙂

  4. I love this! It’s greatness especially the lehua flowers invoking Madame Pele and the power to fight breast cancer. I hope we find a cure in my lifetime.

  5. Pingback: Speaking of cancer… « Iraqi Bundles of Love

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