Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Alai'i highlights approximately seventy-five rare examples of the finest featherwork capes and cloaks (‘ahu‘ula) extant, as well as royal staffs of feathers (kāhili), feather lei (lei hulu manu), helmets (mahiole), feathered god images (akua hulu manu), and related eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and works on paper. Painstakingly constructed by hand of plant fiber and precious feathers from endemic birds of Hawai‘i, feather cloaks and capes provided spiritual protection to Hawaiian chiefs for centuries while proclaiming their royal status. Few of the artworks known as nā hulu ali‘i, or royal feathers, survive today except in museums and private collections. Through photographs and scholarly essays, Royal Hawaiian Featherwork
With their brilliant coloring and abstract compositions of crescents, triangles, circles, quadrilaterals, and lines, the artworks are both beautiful and rich in cultural significance. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, featherworks were key items of indigenous Hawaiian diplomacy, used to secure political alliances and agreements, worn as battlefield regalia, and seized as spoils from defeated chiefs. Later, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the featherworks―used in trading and gifts to foreign visitors―became symbols of Hawaiian heritage and cultural pride.
This stunningly illustrated volume accompanies Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Alai'i the first exhibition of its kind at LACMA from May 22 to August 7, 2016.
Essays by: Samuel M. Ohukaniōhia Gon III, Marques Marzan, Maile Andrade, Noelle Kahanu, Betty Kam, Adrienne Kaeppler, Stacy L. Kamehiro, Christina Hellmich, and Roger Rose.
- 284 pages, 9.5 x 11.5 x 1.2 inches
- 225 color and 20 b&w illustrations