Lei Types

Types of Hawaiian Leis

Traditional Hawaiian leis are created entirely out of natural foliage, with flowers and seeds used as adornment and vines or bark used as the strands holding it together. Although the commonly used flowers include plumerias, carnations, orchids and ti leaves, the types of flowers and methods used vary greatly. Here are the seven most popular methods to weave a lei:

Haku (mounted): A three ply braid, where the decorative material is added into each wrap of the braid. Traditionally softened tree bark or long leaves might have been used as the strands of the braid.

Hili (braided): A braid or plait using only one kind of material. Traditionally, the plait would be woven using vines or ferns and would contain at least three strands, sometimes more.

Hilo (twisted): A rope created by twisting two strands together. Traditionally, this method would be used with ti leafs.

Hipu`u (knotted): Similar to a daisy chain, this method knots the stems of decorative plants together. Each additional strand is included by stringing a new stem through the knot.

Humu (basting): Decorative material is sewn to a backing using a basting stich. Each row overlaps the previous row, which creates the scale like effect.

Kui (piercing): The style most recognized, a needle is used to pierce the decorative material and string it together in a necklace style lei. Commonly used with plumerias, for example.

Wili (twisted): Short lengths of decorative material held together by a wrapped coil. A common material to create the wrap is raffia.