The History of Surfing and Its Origin | Collections of Waikiki - Deepstash

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The Invention of Surfing

The Invention of Surfing

No one really knows who was the first person to attempt surfing but the closest answer we have is that it's someone from the Polynesian origin.

The earliest evidence of surfing history can actually be traced back to 12th century Polynesia, which is undisputedly the birthplace of surfing. Cave paintings were found and they illustrated ancient version of surfing.

Surfing, however, was discovered by a European captain who witnessed Tahitian surfers in 1778 and wrote the experience in his diary.

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Captain James Cook

I could not help concluding, that this man felt the most supreme pleasure, while he was driven on, so fast and so smoothly, by the sea.

CAPTAIN JAMES COOK

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Surfing Becoming Popular

Surfing Becoming Popular

Surfing requires fitness and strength as surfing was used as a way to determine who would serve as chief during the primitive Hawaiian tribes.

These days, people from all over the word have noticed how fun surfing can be. We surf for fun, bragging rights, or even to become a professionally sponsored surfer. Just like Duke Kahanamoku or "The Duke"; who was known as one of the best surfers of his time.

The Duke went on a world tour to showcase his skills and spread the love of surfing thus single-handedly popularizing the Hawaiian surf tradition.

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The Role of Hawaiian Culture in Surfing

The Role of Hawaiian Culture in Surfing

For ancient Polynesians there existed a hierarchy in their culture and their code of kapu or their laws, and this code predetermined all aspects. This code determines where the upper-class would surf and naturally it was taboo for commoners to venture into the royal surf spots.

The code also determined how long your board should be: commoners with short 12ft surfboards, upper-class members with 24ft longboards.

Surfing was also the Hawaiian society's way of praying to their gods and aside from that it was used as a way to prove yourself and gain respect from the upper-class.

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The First Surf Boards

The First Surf Boards

Making your surfboard during the ancient Hawaiian society was a sacred undertaking

  1. They would only opt for three types of trees: koa, 'ulu, and wiliwili
  2. After choosing a tree, the surfer would dig out the tree and put fish in the hole as a spiritual offering.

Ancient Hawaiian surfers had to carry boards as massive as 175lbs and these practices of making the surfboard were carried out to the very last detail. Only a specialized artisan would make the tree into a surfboard.

The code of kapu determined how long and the shape of your surfboards was allowed to be.

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