The History of and Meaning Behind Your Fave Hand Gesture: The Shaka

The shaka. Pinky and thumb out, three middle fingers bent, keep it steady or shake it around; make it super tight or literally “hang loose.”

This powerful Hawaiian hand gesture’s origins are still hotly debated, and each story is pretty rad in its own right. Some credit Hamana Kilili, a sweet Hawaiian sugar mill worker who would greet everyone with a shaka after losing his middle fingers in a work accident in the 1940s. Others say it was a surfer who threw up a shaka after his fingers were bitten off by a shark. The wild theories continue on from there...

But one thing that can’t be debated is the shaka’s meaning: It’s a friendly “aloha,” which can represent anything from hello to goodbye, love, affection, thanks, appreciation—and yeah, pure excitement.

In our opinion, it’s one of the best things about surf culture. For a sport that can be so incredibly cutthroat, it says a ton to have such a welcoming symbol as its mascot.

📷: unknown

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