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n. taboo, especially in Hawaiian contexts.


Kapu refers to the ancient Hawaiian code of conduct of laws and regulations. The kapu system was universal in lifestyle, gender roles, politics, religion, etc. An offense that was kapu was often a corporal offense, but also often denoted a threat to spiritual power, or theft of mana. Kapus were strictly enforced. Breaking one, even unintentionally, often meant immediate death, Koo kapu. The concept is related to taboo and the tapu or tabu found in other Polynesian cultures. The Hawaiian word kapu is usually translated to English as "forbidden", though it also carries the meanings of "keep out", "no trespassing", "sacred", "consecrated", or "holy".

As these examples might suggest, the sense of the term in Polynesia carries connotations of sacredness as much as forbiddenness. Probably the best way to translate kapu into English is as meaning "marked off" or ritually restricted. The opposite of kapu is noa, meaning "common" or "free".

Kapu (caste)

Kapu refers to a social grouping of agriculturists found primarily in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (the Telugu-speaking states). Kapus are primarily an agrarian community, forming a heterogeneous peasant caste. The subcastes of Kapu include Telaga, Balija, Ontari, Munnuru Kapu, Turpu Kapu etc.

The Kapu community in the Telugu states is predominantly concentrated in the coastal districts, North Telangana and Rayalaseema regions. They are also found in large numbers in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and some other Indian states, as well as in Sri Lanka.

Usage examples of "kapu".

So I shall name you after my father Kapugen, and I shall call you Kapu for short.

In desperation she recalled that Kapu had moved forward when challenged.

Silver came up the long slope, gave the grunt-whine that summoned the pups, and Kapu ran to meet her.

Then Kapu, as if he understood what Miyax wanted, swept up to Jello and nuzzled his mouth.

Miyax let go lest she spill her meat, and Kapu rolled head over heels into the lichens.

She gave the grunt-whine and Kapu pressed down his ears, snatched up a bone and brought it over to her.

She grabbed it, he tugged, she pulled, he growled, she giggled, and Jello called Kapu home.

She had barely begun to move away when Kapu leaped on her back and took her bare neck in his teeth.

She let it go, and in one swish Kapu leaped to the ground and snatched it.

The fog streamed up the wolf slope and enveloped the members of the pack one by one until only Kapu was visible.

She patted Kapu, crawled off in the fog, and stood up when she thought she was safely out of sight.

She was inching forward, when Kapu splintered a bone with his mere baby teeth.

She was heating a pot of stew when Kapu came around the hill with a bone in his mouth.

She was about to go to bed when Kapu bounced down her heave, leaped over her house, and landed silently by her side.

So wild had their voices been that Miyax crept to her door to call Kapu to come and ease her fears.