Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category
Mahiole of twined ieie (Freycinetia arborea) rootlets, olona (Touchardia latifolia) cordage, red iiwi (Vestiaria coccinea) feathers, black oo (Moho spp.) feathers and yellow oo and mamo (Drepanis pacifica) feathers. It’s believed to have been given by Kamehameha the Great to King Kaumualii of Kauai.
In 1874 David Kalakaua (1836 – 1891) became King of the Hawaiian Islands. Impressed with court ritual he witnessed on his 1881 world tour, King Kalakaua wished to imbue his own reign with a similar ceremonial presence.
On the ninth anniversary of his election to the throne, he staged a coronation in front of the recently-completed ‘Iolani Palace. With no one of higher rank present in the Islands, Kalakaua placed a jeweled crown on his own head, then crowned his queen, Kapi’olani. The Hawaiian-British alliance ended with the election of King David Kalakaua, who was pro-American.
On the King’s death 20 January 1891, his sister Lydia Kaniakaeha Liliuokalani succeeded to the Throne. She was deposed on 17 January 1893, a provisional government was established with Sanford B. Dole, son of missionaries from Maine, as President of Hawaii. The Republic became a “permanent” institution on 3 July 1893, with Mr. Dole as the first (and only) President.
The ‘Iolani Palace custodian turned over the crowns worn by King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi’olani to the government and it was discovered that the jewels were missing from Kalakaua’s crown.
The pa’u, or skirt, was made for Princess Nahi’ena’ena, the daughter of King Kamehameha I and Keopuolani, a highborn chiefess considered the most “sacred” of Kamehameha’s wives. The garment was 20 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide, but was cut in half and resewn after Nahi’ena’ena died in 1836. It is now 10 feet by 5 feet. It was reconfigured for use as a pall for the coffins of royalty, Kam said. There is a single reference that it was used at the funeral of Kamehameha III in 1854, and photos show it covering the coffin of King Kalakaua in 1891.
The pa’u is made mostly of yellow feathers from the now-extinct ‘o’o and mamo birds. Both birds were mostly black but had patches of yellow under their wings and tail. A geometric pattern of alternating triangles of black ‘o’o feathers and red-orange feathers of the now-endangered ‘i’iwi bird lines the edge of the pa’u. Some say the triangles represent shark teeth and some say they represent mountains, which are both symbols of power. Small bundles of a half-dozen or fewer feathers, about an inch long, are tied into the eye of netting made from olona, a fiber made into cord.Approximately 200,000 birds were involved.Specialized bird catchers trapped the birds with a snare or with a long stick with a sticky substance on which the birds would land. After the feathers were taken, the birds’ feet were cleaned and they were released.
After the death of Nahi’ena’ena, the pa’u remained in the royal family and then was kept at Iolani Palace. It has been at the museum for more than 100 years. It is kept in a secure temperature- and humidity-controlled room for protection.