Meaning of "Kanohi"

Hello Greg. You once wrote in BIONICLE: Encyclopedia Updated that “Kanohi” means “mask” in Matoran, and you’ve gone on to say it too online, I believe. But I wanted to dig a little deeper with these two simple questions:

  1. Is it safe to assume that kanohi specifically means “mask of power” and not just “mask”? They have been referred to as such in older media (maybe newer too, I am not sure). And it would make a bit of sense too, when you look at the fact that ka seems to have (maybe) meant “energy” (and potentially “power”), as well as definitely being a word for “spirit” in official canon. Places where it could have meant “power” and “energy” could be the inika, which means “the energies of a star”. So, does kanohi specifically mean “mask of power” in your opinion? Would you canonize this?

  2. If yes, could nohi be the word for “mask” then? (as in normal mask?)

Note: The theory also makes sense when you note that kal is a suffix which connotes greater power.

  1. If yes to the above two questions, then is kanoka literally “disk of power” and that noka just “disk”?

Ignika could also mean “power of life” or something similar.


But wouldn’t the translation of, say, Kanohi Rau have then been “Mask of Power of Translation” or “Mask of Translation Power”?


Not necessarily. Just because the literal english translation doesn’t fit, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work in Matoran. “Kanohi” could mean “mask of power” when used alone, while “Kanohi Rau” could mean “Mask of translation”, as the power is implicit. I’m not arguing in favour of the original post, but thought I’d throw this out there.


@Styrofoam’s thoughts echo my own. However, the literal meaning would technically be “Mask of Power of Translation”, yes. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t shorten it to “Mask of Translation” in English, since, as Styrofoam put it, to us, the audience, the “power” bit is implicit. What do you think Greg?