ʻAhu ʻula

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from ʻahuʻula)
Jump to: navigation, search
The Death of Captain James Cook
Zoffany Death of Captain Cook.jpg
Artist Johann Zoffany
Year c. 1795
Type Oil painting
Dimensions 137.2 cm × 182.9 cm (54.0 in × 72.0 in)
Location National Maritime Museum, London

Hawaiian feather cloaks, known as ʻAhu ʻula in the Hawaiian language,[1] were worn with feather helmets (mahiole). These were symbols of the highest rank reserved for the men of the aliʻi,[2] the chiefly class of Hawaii. There are over 160 examples of this traditional clothing in museums around the world.[1] At least six of these cloaks were collected during the voyages of Captain Cook.[3] These cloaks are made from a woven netting decorated with bird feathers and are examples of fine featherwork techniques. One of these cloaks was included in a painting of Cook's death by Johann Zoffany.

Construction[edit]

The cloaks were constructed using a woven netting decorated with feathers obtained from local birds. The plant used to make the netting is Touchardia latifolia, a member of the nettle family.[4]

The coloring was achieved using different types of feathers. Black and yellow came from four species of bird called ʻōʻōs. All species had become extinct by 1987, with the probable cause being disease. Black feathers were also sourced from the two species of mamo, which are also now both extinct. The distinctive red feathers came from the ʻIʻiwi and the ʻApapane. Both species can still be found in Hawaii, but in much reduced numbers. Although birds were exploited for their feathers, the effect on the population is thought to be minimal.[5] The birds are said to have not been killed but, rather, caught by specialist bird catchers, a few feathers harvested, and the birds then released.[6]

Hundreds of thousands of feathers were required for each cloak. A small bundle of feathers was gathered and tied into the netting. Bundles were tied in close proximity to form a uniform covering of the surface of the cloak.[7]

Captain James Cook's Cloak[edit]

One of the feather capes given to Captain Cook, Australian Museum. (Not the one mentioned here)

When Captain James Cook visited Hawaii on 26 January 1778 he was received by a high chief called Kalaniʻōpuʻu. At the end of the meeting Kalaniʻōpuʻu placed the feathered helmet and cloak he had been wearing on Cook. Kalaniʻōpuʻu also laid several other cloaks at Cook's feet as well as four large pigs and other offerings of food. Much of the material from Cook's voyages including the helmet and cloak ended up in the collection of Sir Ashton Lever. He exhibited them in his museum, the Holophusikon.[3] It was while at this museum that Cook's mahiole and cloak were borrowed by Johann Zoffany in the 1790s and included in his painting of the Death of Cook.[3]

Lever went bankrupt and his collection was disposed of by public lottery. The collection was obtained by James Parkinson who continued to exhibit it, at the Blackfriars Rotunda. He eventually sold the collection in 1806 in 7,000 separate sales.[3] The mahiole and cloak were purchased by the collector William Bullock who exhibited them in his own museum until 1819 when the collection was again sold. The mahiole and cloak were then purchased by Charles Winn along with a number of other items and these remained in his family until 1912, when Charles Winn’s grandson, the Second Baron St Oswald, gave them to the Dominion of New Zealand. They are now in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

ʻAhu ʻula in Museums[edit]

Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu[edit]

A 200-year-old mahiole and ʻahuʻula

The Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu has a 200-year-old mahiole and matching cloak. This bright red and yellow cloak was given to the king of Kauaʻi, Kaumualiʻi, when he became a vassal to Kamehameha I in 1810, uniting all the islands into the Kingdom of Hawaii.[8]

British Museum, London[edit]

The British Museum has three of these cloaks.[9][10][11]

National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh[edit]

The National Museums of Scotland show a feather cloak that was given in 1824 from King Kamehameha II of Hawaii to Frederich Gerald Byng thanking for his service in London.[12]

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington[edit]

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has three ʻahu ʻula in its collection. All were gifts of Lord St Oswald in 1912.[13][14][15] The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa believes that one of these cloaks was placed on Captain James Cook by the Hawaiian chief Kalani’ōpu’u.[16]

Tales From Te Papa[edit]

Cook's mahiole and cloak are featured in Episode 52 of the mini-documentary television series Tales from Te Papa.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of ʻahu ʻula ". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. 
  2. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of aliʻi ". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kaeppler, Adrienne (28 July 2006). "Trascript of Paper: To attempt some new discoveries in that vast unknown tract". Cook’s Pacific Encounters symposium. National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  4. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Hoyt Elbert (2003). "lookup of olona". in Hawaiian Dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. 
  5. ^ "Kauaʻi ʻŌʻō" (PDF). Hawaii’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. State of Hawaiʻi. 1 October 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "A Captain's Chiefly Gift – Tales from Te Papa episode 52". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Arcayna, Nancy (12 September 2008). "Cloaked in native culture: Kaha‘i Topolinski preserves the art of Hawaiian feather work". Honolulu Star Bulletin. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Bishop Museum Loans Rare Artifacts to Kauai'i". Bishop Museum, Honolul u. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  9. ^ "Cloak". Collections Database Search. British Museum. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "Cloak". Collections Database Search. British Museum. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "Cloak". Collections Database Search. British Museum. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  12. ^ J. Susan Corley: „National Museums Scotland Displays One of Kamehameha II’s Featherwork ‘Ahu‘ula Cloaks“ auf evols.library.manoa.hawaii.edu
  13. ^ "ʻahu ʻula (Feathered cloak)". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "ʻahu ʻula (Feathered cloak)". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "ʻahu ʻula (Feathered cloak)". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  16. ^ "Hawaiian feather cloak (ʻahu ʻula) and helmet (mahiole)". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 28 November 2010. 
  17. ^ "A Captain's Chiefly Gift – Tales from Te Papa episode 52". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 16 November 2010.