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Aloha: Hawaiian Art and
Artifacts from the Sullivan Collection
November 30, 2013 - March 2, 2014
(above: Gallery View for Aloha:
Hawaiian Art and Artifacts from the Sullivan Collection. Photo courtesy
of New Britain Museum of American Art)
Traveling nearly 5,000
miles from Hawaii to the New Britain Museum of American Art, Aloha: Hawaiian
Art and Artifacts from the Sullivan Collection, on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art November
30, 2013 through March 2, 2014, presents a cross section of the culture,
beauty, and history of the Islands of Aloha. Despite the geographical distance
between Connecticut and Hawaii, the two states' histories intertwined beginning
in the 1820s, when many Connecticut missionary families such as the Lymans,
Coans, Cookes, Wilcoxes, and Baldwins came to the Islands. (right:
Joseph Nawahi, View of Hilo Bay, Hawaii, ca 1868-70, Oil on canvas,
20 x 36 inches. Collection of Melinda and Paul Sullivan.)
Longtime Museum benefactors Melinda and Paul Sullivan have
carefully collected works from a wide range of artists, mediums, and contexts
over the years. Selections from their extensive holdings of historical and
contemporary works include paintings, works on paper, furniture, and crafts
spanning over two centuries of Hawaii's vibrant history.
Eighteenth-century engravings by John Webber (1751-1793)
depict the islands as they appeared when English explorer Captain James
Cook reached Hawaii in 1778. Other pieces also capture the Western impression
of the Islands, but most celebrate the state's natural beauty through the
eyes of native artists.
One of the highlights of the Collection is a nineteenth-century
oil painting by artist, politician, scholar and activist Joseph Nawahi (1842-1896).
Although he received no formal art training, Nawahi became the first Hawaiian-born
artist to paint in a naturalistic "Western" style.
Other treasures such as quilts made in the traditional
Hawaiian style, furniture crafted of native Koa wood and shell necklaces
from the remote island of Niihau will also be on display. Visitors will
have the opportunity to travel through more than 200 years of history, as
well as become acquainted with artists living and working in the Aloha State
Selections from the Sullivan Collection offer a rare glimpse
into the art and history of the Islands of Aloha
Our appreciation for Hawaii and its rich culture grew over
the nine years that we lived on the beautiful island of Maui. We have studied
Hawaiian history and the diverse artists that have interpreted aspects of
Hawaiian culture in a wide variety of ways. It is a pleasure for us to share
with the visitors to the New Britain Museum of American Art the paintings,
prints, furniture and decorative arts objects on view.
We have acquired more than 200 Hawaiian ornaments, and
these will be hung from our tree in the lobby over the holidays.
We became intrigued by the origin of the Hawaiian people
who settled the Hawaiian Islands over 1,500 years ago. They migrated from
Samoa and Tahiti. Much later, with the arrival of the first Europeans in
the 18th century, a gradual blending of cultures began which continues to
this day. In particular, in the 19th century American Christian missionaries,
many from Connecticut and elsewhere in New England, began to exert an enormous
influence on the destiny of the Hawaiian Islands. Additionally, waves of
Chinese and Japanese workers were brought to the Islands to work in the
sugar cane industry and in the pineapple fields. The result was a rich blending
of world cultures that has produced wonderful fine and decorative arts objects
based on the folklore and mythology of all of these peoples.
We wanted this collection to represent the varied communities
that came to Hawaii over time. Because our primary interest was decorative
arts and paintings, we assembled artworks representative of the Islands,
including seascapes and "up country" landscapes by contemporary
artists. Most of these individuals are not native Hawaiians, but then again,
everyone on the Hawaiian Islands came from somewhere else at one time or
another. While contemporary, the furniture and artifacts were made in the
style of earlier periods.
Margaret Leach's storyboards give a rendering of how the
early settlers (Samoan and Tahitian) explained the origin of their land.
The Webber prints and others reveal the period of European discovery in
the last quarter of the 18th century by explorers such as Captain James
Cook and the Comte de Lapérouse.
The 19th-century painting by Joseph Nawahi is the work
of a native Hawaiian, educated by New England missionaries. It is one of
only twelve known works by this artist, who was also active in the Hawaiian
law, politics and social issues during the second half of the 19th century.
We also have included an example by the "Volcano School" artist,
D. Howard Hitchcock, who was born in Hilo in 1861, the grandson of missionaries
The rise of tourism has played a major role in the lives
and economy of the Hawaiians beginning in the 20th century. The six menus
on display were presented to first class passengers aboard the luxury liner
S.S. Lurline of the Matson Line. Carrying passengers from the West
Coast to Honolulu, the line operated from 1933 to 1963 when the jet plane
made it obsolete.
To us Hawaii is a magical place and we hope this exhibition
imparts some of the wonder that has inspired us to form this collection.
- Melinda and Paul Sullivan
Wall panels from the exhibition
- SANFORD BALLARD DOLE LOW: NEW BRITAIN AND HAWAII
- Sanford B.D. Low (1905-1964), New Britain Museum of American
Art's charismatic first director, was born in Hawaii. His ancestors included
Hawaiian royalty and Connecticut missionaries. Sent to Connecticut's Loomis
Chaffee School from Hawaii, he evidenced artistic talent at a young age.
He pursued his education at the Art Students League, where he met Virginia
Hart, his future wife, who was also a painter/illustrator. Ginny Low was
the granddaughter of William H. Hart, who built the Landers House and was
the CEO of the Stanley Works for more than fifty years.
- In 1937 Low was asked to serve as curator by the New
Britain Institute, the parent organization of the New Britain Museum. In
the 1940s he was appointed the Museum's first director. Between then and
his untimely death in 1964, he organized hundreds of exhibitions and programs.
He also bought astutely so that many of the Museum's most significant works
of art, including Thomas Hart Benton's murals, The Arts of Life in America,
were purchased by him.
- Low was a bon vivant. He sang, played the ukulele and
was the life of the party at many social gatherings. He continued to pursue
his career as an artist and both taught and mentored hundreds of aspiring
younger artists at the New Britain Art League, which he helped found. Among
his many devoted friends were the leading illustrators of his day. Upon
his death, it was decided that the Low Illustration Committee would perpetuate
his legacy by acquiring the finest American illustrations in his name.
Since his death, the Committee has met twice a year, and annually donations
come to the Museum so that today the NBMAA is home to one of the most comprehensive
illustration collections in the country.
- On Sunday, January 19th at 2 p.m., Low's son, Sam Low
is coming to the Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his father's
death. His program, entitled Aloha in the Hardware Capital of the World:
Sanford B. D. Low the Museums' First Director, will be a tribute both
to his father and his family's Hawaiian heritage. In large part, Sandy
Low was responsible for assembling one of the country's leading collections
of American art, and thus we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
- Douglas Hyland,
- HAWAIIAN KOA WOOD
- Many of the furniture and decorative art objects shown
in the exhibition (the pie safe, benches, glass front case, jewelry boxes,
and a number of the bowls and frames) are made from Hawaiian koa, a tree
that is native only to Hawaii. Because of its durability, attractive and
varying grains, and wide range of colors, koa offers the craftsperson a
strong and beautiful medium with which to work.
- While koa is now the preferred wood for Hawaiian-made
objects, this was not always the case. Prior to the 1870s, kou wood was
widely used. It had similar qualities to koa but was softer and thus easier
to carve with early stone and coral tools. Overuse and an imported insect
pest led to the near extinction of the kou tree by the late 19th century,
a cautionary tale for us all.
- THE TARO PLANT
- Colocasia esculenta
- Brought to Hawaii by the first Polynesian settlers, the
root of the taro plant is used to make "poi." In addition to
being a food staple, poi holds important symbolic value in Hawaiian culture.
The taro plant itself is understood as "the older brother" of
man; as "siblings" originating from the same source, they are
responsible for taking care of each other. Thus, eating poi represents
more than simple sustenance. It celebrates Hawaiian heritage and supports
the ties of "o'hana" (family). Thus, the taro plant is a frequent
motif in Hawaiian art such as the ceramic leaves and paintings shown here.
- JOHN WEBBER AND CAPTAIN COOK
- English artist John Webber accompanied Captain James
Cook on his third voyage in search of the Northwest Passage from Europe
to Asia. It was during this expedition that Cook made the first documented
European contact with Hawaii and its people in 1778.
- A predecessor of documentary photographers and filmmakers,
Webber sought to accurately capture the religion, dress, habits, architecture
and people that Cook and his company encountered. Copperplate engravings
of his drawings were made for the 1784 first English edition of A Voyage
to the Pacific Ocean and other subsequent editions in numerous languages.
- Webber's works culminate in his depiction of the death
of Captain Cook in February of 1779 at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island
of Hawaii. As dramatic as was Cook's demise, the long-term impact of Western
contact was even more tragic. The native Hawaiian population declined from
an estimated 300,000 in 1778 to only 45,000 by 1879 due to diseases to
which they had little immunity.
- LEGENDS AND MYTHS
- Having no written language, the indigenous people of
the Hawaiian Islands passed their history and life lessons down from generation
to generation in the form of oral legends and myths. Because they sought
to live one with nature, many of the symbolic representations used in these
stories are related to the natural world.
- The storytellers of these legends were accorded a position
of honor. Their craft served as a principal source of entertainment while
simultaneously teaching how the ancestors lived in their world and how
future generations should live in theirs. Although the ancient Hawaiian
culture is very different from our own, within this folklore we find themes
and emotions familiar to us in our modern world.
- Look to the left to discover three Hawaiian myths as
depicted by artist Margaret Leach.
Object labels from the exhibition
- MARGARET BEDELL (1922-2013)
- Conga II, Variation on a Theme, 2005
- Mixed media
- The trees and flowers of Hawaii have been a leading source
of inspiration for artists since people began to settle on the Islands
over 1,500 years ago. Following the footsteps of famous painters like Georgia
O'Keeffe (1887-1986), Margaret Bedell continues this tradition. Her triptych
is a jungle of bold lines and shapes representing native plant leaves.
We find the giant bird of paradise tree, taro and palm accentuated by flashes
of bright color from caribaea, heliconia and anthurium flowers.
- SUSAN BOARDMAN (b.1956)
- Embroidered Narratives, 2001-2002
- Bone, leather, hand-dyed cotton fabric, cotton thread,
beadwork, koa wood frame
- In the 1800s, whaling was a major industry and played
an important role in the history of Hawaii. Whale oil was a source of fuel
and lubricant for the lamps and machines driving the industrialization
of the Western world. Whaling began in the North Atlantic Ocean, but when
whale populations began to drastically decline due to overhunting, whalers
sought their prey elsewhere. The Pacific Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean
were ideal for whaling, and ships began arriving at the ports of Honolulu
and Lahaina around 1819. By 1846, over 600 ships from all over the world
docked there annually.
- Susan Boardman's embroidered narratives tell stories
of 19th-century Nantucket women who accompanied their husbands aboard whaling
ships. Notice the quotes from their journals along the sides of the embroideries.
Although the six embroideries primarily depict voyages to the southernmost
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, they capture themes that were common throughout
the global whaling trade.
- SUSAN BOARDMAN (b. 1956)
- Ship Essex as She Appeared at the Moment of Attack
on November 20, 1820, 2001
- Bone, leather, hand-dyed cotton fabric, cotton thread,
beadwork, koa wood frame
- The sinking of the ship Essex was one of the most
prominent maritime tragedies of the early 1800s. A relatively small vessel,
Essex was attacked by a large sperm whale 2,000 miles off the coast
of South America. The ship capsized, and the crew retreated to smaller
boats. Of the 20 men, only 8 survived the treacherous journey home. Essex's
demise would later become the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby
- CARRIE LEE BRADY (b. 1960)
- Gyotaku Fish Print,
- Acrylic and colored pencil on rice paper
- Fish rubbing (Gyotaku) is an art form that originated
in Japan in the 1800s to record a fisherman's catch before it was taken
to market. The non-gutted fish is inked with water-based paints, and then
a flexible paper or fabric is pressed over the fish to capture the intricacies
of its scales. Details like eyes and fins are added with colored pencil
to closely represent the natural colors of the fish. In this print, the
reflection in the fish's eyes takes on a near human quality and becomes
the focal point of the work. Why might the artist have done that?
- Carrie Lee Brady started her formal art education when
she moved to Maui in 1980. She lives a very active outdoor lifestyle which
inspires the textures and colors in her works.
- GIOVANNI MARIA CASSINI (1745-1824)
- Le Isole Di Sandwich, 1990
(based on 1798 original)
- Limited edition, hand-colored copperplate etching
- This map was originally published (uncolored) in Rome
in 1798 for Giovanni Cassini's three volume atlas. In 1990, it was reproduced
as a limited edition print. The Hawaiian Islands were originally named
the Sandwich Islands by Captain Cook in honor of his patron, John Montagu,
4th Earl of Sandwich. Notice that the names of the individual islands reflect
the 18th-century phonetic spelling of native Hawaiian pronunciations. Their
modern equivalents are:
- Owhyhee - Hawaii (The Big Island)
- Mowee - Maui
- Tahoorowa - Kahoolawe
- Ranai - Lanai
- Morotoi - Molokai
- Woahoo - Oahu
- Atooi - Kauai
- Oneehow - Niihau
- Note another version of the Death of Captain Cook
in the bottom left of the map. Compare this to other iterations in the
exhibition. How does it differ from the original by John Webber?
- CHRIS CHRISTENSON
- Palm Tree Surfboard, 21st
- Fiberglass, polystyrene core
- Collection of Heather Vance
- Look in the Davis Gallery to find A View of Karakakooa
(Kealakekua), in Owyhee by John Webber, the first known Western depiction
of surfing. Originally symbols of social status, surfboards constructed
of koa wood ranged from 9 to 18 feet in length. At the height of surf culture
in the 1950s and 1960s, surfboards evolved to be more lightweight and maneuverable.
In the 1970s, surf culture was often negatively associated with illicit
substances and the display of prominent sexuality. However, this correlation
did not last for long and global surf culture continues to proliferate
- MICHAEL CLEMENTS (b.1950)
- Kula Cabbage Field Workers (Harvest), ca. 2010
- Pastel on paper
- Michael Clements uses primarily pastels to capture both
the pristine natural landscape and agricultural activities of his home
island Maui. Here, Clements finds beauty in the light and colors of a cabbage
harvest in the Kula district. Located along the western slope of the volcano
Haleakala, the area is known for its rich soil and has supported agriculture
for decades. Today, Kula is home to numerous botanic gardens and produce
- Kula Cabbage Field Workers (Harvest) is one of the artist's largest, most ambitious figurative works.
Long horizontal strips of cool greens, browns and blues create a calm background
which is interrupted by the bold yellow jackets of the workers. Considering
the title, it is not surprising that Clements focuses us on the workers
more so than the landscape through his use of contrasting color.
- D. P. DODD (Active 1768-1784)
- The Death of Captain James Cook, F.R.S. at Owhayhee
in MDCCLXXIX, 1784
- Hand-colored copperplate engraving printed by Thomas
- This image of the death of Cook was engraved from the
original said to have been done not by John Webber but by "D. P. Dodd
and others who were on the spot." Unlike the Webber version, this
scene shows Cook already dead or dying and being dragged from the beach.
Note that it appears that some of the Hawaiians may be attempting to restrain
others from violence. Clearly different artists chose to emphasize different
aspects of Cook's demise.
- RIK FITCH (b. 1947)
- "Wahine" (Lady on a Beach), 21st century
- "Kane" (Man on a Beach), 21st century
- Oil on canvas
- In these two paintings, Rik Fitch illustrates his deep
love for Maui's people, fauna and flora. He considers himself a "modern
impressionist artist." Would you agree?
- Symbolism has long been a common aspect of Hawaiian culture.
Perhaps the colorful fish above the reclining woman might represent the
Hawaiian State Fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, also symbolic
of life, fertility, prosperity and riches. The turtle, or Hanu, may represent
long life and the "living bridge that brings two lovers together."
- D. HOWARD HITCHCOCK (1861-1943)
- Hilo, 1921
- Oil on board
- Hitchcock, the grandson of missionaries, was the first
Hawaiian-born painter to receive formal art training in Paris. He later
became a leading member of the Volcano School. Though the painters in the
Volcano School were best known for their dramatic, nocturnal scenes of
Hawaii's erupting volcanoes, Hitchcock was equally interested in Hawaii's
lush and varied flora.
- This painting is a joyous depiction of Hitchcock's birthplace
-- Hilo Bay. Here, the artist uses a bright palette and loose, impressionistic
brushstrokes to capture an idyllic glimpse of natural paradise, uncluttered
by people or buildings.
- Compare Hitchcock's vision of Hilo Bay to Joseph Nawahi's
View of Hilo Bay, Hawaii. Hitchcock focuses on a small section of
beach, a pandamas tree and the ocean, while Nawahi gives us a much broader
vista. How do the artists' choices about what to include in the composition
affect your perception of what Hilo Bay was like?
- HEZEKIAH HUNTINGTON, N.Y.
- Eight Illustrations for A Residence of Twenty-One
Years in the Sandwich Islands, 1848
- Hand-colored woodblock engravings
- These eight prints appeared in Hiram Bingham's A Residence
of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands. Bingham was one of the
early missionaries to visit Hawaii and in the 21 years he stayed there,
he contributed greatly to the success of the Lahainaluna High School (the
first high school west of the Rockies). He helped translate the Bible into
Hawaiian (a previously unwritten language) and develop Hawaii's first printing
- MICHAEL JAMES
- Mataatua, ca. 2010
- Pencil on paper
- Michael James taught herself to draw during her recovery
from several surgeries. Drawing has proved to be an adventure which has
freed her to "express what I feel in my heart."
- Mataatua is a hula dance "specific to the Makena
area of Maui. It represents a road from hardships on the way to a Promised
Land in life." The figure here, Kolani Au, is a dancer specializing
in "Ulanena," which references a wind-driven reddish-hued rain
experienced in some regions on the island of Maui.
- AVI KIRIATY (b. 1957)
- Papa Tonga, 2010
- Oil on canvas
- Born in Israel but now a resident of Maui, Avi Kiriaty
has immersed himself in the life and culture of Polynesia. He painted Papa
Tonga in a bold style reminiscent of the cubist work of Pablo Picasso
(1881-1973) combined with the color and subject matter of Paul Gauguin
(1848-1903). The subject, a fisherman resting with his catch, is representative
of Kiriaty's depictions of ordinary people engaged in their everyday work
and activities. Other Kiriaty examples, such as Shell Fisherman
and Feeding the Chickens, also demonstrate his focus on what his
daughter has called a "nostalgic search for a simple, loving lifestyle
working with the land and ocean."
- Did you notice the two dark bands reaching down from
the cloud just behind the fisherman's head? These are intense sheets of
rain typical of the South Pacific called a "Dark Summer Squall."
- HEESOO LEE AND ADAM FIELD
- Former residents of Hawaii, this husband/wife team now
shares their studio in Durango, Colorado. Both are trained in traditional
Korean pottery making techniques. Adam Field's Celadon Vase (center)
is reminiscent of the simplicity of antique Far Eastern pottery. The carving
on his work is informed by the patterns found in indigenous fiber art,
such as the Hawaiian tapa cloth. Heesoo Lee's vessels illustrate plants
commonly found in Hawaii. Plumeria flowers (as seen in the vase on the
left) are a garden favorite. Because they are sweet-smelling and easy to
string, they are also used widely in the lei trade. Shell Ginger (as seen
in the vase on the right) is commonly found in wet areas and is
one of nine species of aromatic ginger used in the lei. It is also grown
for medicinal purposes, spices, dyes and perfumes.
- BETH MARCIL (b.1958)
- Lo'i Kapahulu (Wetland Taro Field of Kapahulu)
- Acrylic on canvas
- Beth Marcil was born in South Carolina and graduated
from Ringling College of Art and Design with a degree in illustration.
In 1984 she visited Maui and never returned to the mainland. She refers
to herself as a "creative midwife" because of the prevalence
of vivid colors, textures and energies in her work. This painting of a
taro field is no exception.
- The taro plant was the mainstay of the Hawaiian diet
and considered to be most important to their survival and prosperity.
- NANCY SHEPARD MOSELY (b.
- Mu'u Mu'u (Muumuu) Miniatures,
- Polymer clay
- During the "golden age" of the Aloha shirt
in the 50s, celebrities like Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby popularized
the garment, increasing the demand for traditional and innovative designs.
This gave way to the adaptation of the Aloha shirt patterns in other articles
of clothing, such as bathrobes, bathing suits and the long Hawaiian dress
called the mu'u mu'u (muumuu), which you see recreated here as a miniature.
- PETER NARAMORE (b. 1954)
- Pie Safe, 21st century
- Walnut with copper panels
- Prior to refrigeration, the pie safe provided cooks a
place to cool and store pies (and other foods), away from flies and vermin.
Notice the holes in the copper door panels for ventilation. The pie safe
was introduced to Hawaii by American missionaries and settlers, many of
whom came from New England.
- This pie safe is made in a late 19th-century Craftsman
style but has copper door panels instead of the traditional tin. The copper
sheets are punched in stylized patterns similar to Hawaiian quilt designs,
a nod to the flora of the Islands. The top panel is similar to the "Kukui
Grove of Lanikaula" pattern; the middle is similar to the "Maile
Lei" design; and the bottom resembles the "Awapuhi" (Hawaiian
Red Ginger) pattern.
- Peter Naramore is a furniture designer and craftsman
working on the island of Maui.
- JOSEPH NAWAHI (1842-1896)
- View of Hilo Bay, Hawaii,
- Oil on canvas
- Are we looking at a small New England town in the mid-19th
centrury or Hilo Bay, Hawaii? Hawaiian- born artist Joseph Nawahi, also
a noted politician, scholar and activist, was the first native Hawaiian
to paint in a distinctive Western style. Notice the clothing, the flags,
the buildings, the ships and the open green fields. Even the water seems
gray and smooth like a river or bay in New England.
- By the 1860s, missionaries, many from Connecticut, had
settled in the Islands and created settlements with white clapboard churches
and buildings that resembled their previous homes in New England. Only
the palm trees, the distant volcanoes, the small outrigger canoes in the
bay and the Hawaiian flag give Hilo away. When Nawahi painted View of
Hilo Bay, Hawaii was an independent kingdom; its flag was a combination
consisting of an American flag and with a British Union Jack in the upper
- JOËLLE C. PERZ (b. 1951)
- Traditions and New Visions,
- Mixed media on carved wood
- here are numerous myths and legends that explain the
creation of the hula, a complex and graceful ritual dance form accompanied
by music or chant, but essentially it is used as tribute to the sister
goddesses Laka (goddess of the forest and hula) and Pele (goddess of volcanoes).
Today, it is also considered a celebration of the Aloha spirit (traits
of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people.)
- Joëlle C. Perz's Traditions and New Visions depicts
the five sacred plans associated with the hula.
- EUGENE SAVAGE (1883-1978)
- Dinner Menus from the S. S. Lurline, 1954-1956
- Offset prints
- In 1938, Matson Lines commissioned Eugene Savage to create
six murals depicting Hawaiian life. On display are the adaptations of those
murals into menu covers for the cruise ship S. S. Lurline. In 1908,
seafarer William Matson built a ship named Lurline which would become
the first commercial passenger ship in the Hawaiian trade. The subsequent
S. S. Lurline, a luxury cruise ship, began shuttling passengers
from California to Hawaii in 1932, helping popularize Hawaii as a favorite
- Unknown Artist
- View of the French Frigates Anchorage off of the Island
of Maui, 1797
- Copperplate engraving published in Atlas Du Voyage
- England was not the only participant in the exploration
of the Pacific. The Comte de Lapérouse, noted French explorer, navigator
and hydrographer, was sent by King Louis XVI on an expedition in rivalry
with Captain Cook and the English. Lapérouse was the first official
visitor to Maui ("Mowee" on this print). The view shown here
was recorded in 1786, a few years before the volcano in the background,
Haleakala, erupted and wiped out the village shown in the image. The lava
fingers of the volcano created what is known today as La Perouse Bay.
- DAN WARREN
- Village Life, 1993
- Line etching on zinc plate printed on burnt umber ink,
- Arriving as early as 1,500 years ago, the earliest settlers
of the Hawaiian Islands are believed to have been Polynesians from the
Marquesas Islands. They arrived in double-hulled canoes bringing with them
coconut and banana trees, dogs, pigs, and chickens. They governed themselves
by a kapu system of chiefs and ali'I (royalty). Their religion was deeply
associated with nature and recognized thousands of gods. By the time Europeans
made contact in 1778, there may have been as many as one million inhabitants.
- Considering this information, can you find evidence in
this etching to support the possibility that it depicts an early settlement?
- JOHN WEBBER (1751-1793)
- A Man of the Sandwich Islands with His Helmet, 1790
- A Young Woman of the Sandwich Islands, 1790
- Hand-colored copper plate engraving printed by Alex Hogg
- The portrait on the left is believed to be chief Keneena.
He is dressed in a feathered cloak and helmet ("mahiole"), likely
for a ceremonial occasion. Cook's notes indicate "Keneena....was one
of the finest men I ever saw. He was about six feet high, had regular and
expressive features, with lively dark eyes; his carriage was easy, firm,
and graceful." Unfortunately, Keneena was killed in the same battle
as Cook shortly after Webber made his portrait.
- The woman on the right may be Poeta, daughter of an island
chief. Rare and beautiful bird feathers were reserved for high ranking
individuals, so based on the feather head lei, she too is clearly a person
of importance. Cook's notes state "...besides which they wear another
ornament called eraie (lei).....it is a ruff of the thickness of a finger
made.....of exceedingly small feathers, woven so close together as to form
a surface as smooth as that of the thickest velvet."
- JOHN WEBBER (1751-1793)
- A Canoe of the Sandwich Islands, the Rowers Masked,
- Copperplate engraving printed by C. Grignion
- This scene shows a group of men, believed to be priests
of the god Lono, traveling in their two hulled canoe. One of the priests
holds a feathered representation of the god Lono called an Akua Hulu Manu,
while the man behind him blows on a conch shell trumpet. All of the men
wear masks that are associated with ceremonies honoring Lono. Cook's notes
of the voyage indicate that "the masks were made of large gourds with
holes cut out for eyes and nose. The top was stuck full of small green
twigs, which at a distance, had the appearance of an elegant waving plum;
and from the lower part hung strips of cloth resembling a beard..."
- JOHN WEBBER (1751-1793)
- The Death of Captain Cook, 1784
- Copperplate engraving printed by William Byrne and Francesco
- Captain Cook's relations with the native population were
initially friendly but deteriorated quickly due to cultural misunderstandings.
To reclaim a stolen boat, Cook's crew attempted to take hostage the King
of Hawaii, Kalani`pu`u. The natives retaliated by attacking and killing
Cook and four marines. Nineteen Hawaiians died in the altercation and many
more in subsequent reprisals.
- Webber was not present at the actual battle and based
his depiction of Cook's death on eyewitness accounts. Here, Cook tries
to act as a peacemaker moments before he is struck from behind. Note how
other versions of this event show Cook in the thick of the fighting or
- JOHN WEBBER (1751-1793)
- Mort de Cook, 1785 (hand-colored
at later date)
- Copperplate engraving for first French edition of A
Voyage to the Pacific Ocean
- This version was done for the French edition of A
Voyage to the Pacific Ocean and is very similar to the original work
engraved by Bartolozzi and Byrne from the watercolor by John Webber. The
hand coloring was done at a later date and reflects the artist's best guess
regarding the colors that the participants actually wore.
- CHARLES WILKES (Publisher)(1798-1877)
- Crater of Maku-A-Weo-Weo,
- Hand-colored engraving
- Lieutenant Charles Wilkes led the first U.S. expedition
to survey the South Pacific, including Hawaii. One of the major accomplishments
of the expedition was the mapping of Hawaiian volcanos, such as Mauna Loa,
which you see here. The crater in this image is located on the top of the
Leiomano (Shark Toothed Club), 21st century
- Wood, shark teeth
- Meant for short-range fighting, this paddle-shaped club
has sharks teeth inset into grooves on the edge of the club and sewn in
place. There is a hole in the handle to hold a wrist wrap to prevent the
user from losing it during battle.
- Such clubs have been used for centuries within many Polynesian
cultures for utilitarian and martial arts purposes. In Hawaiian, the word
"leiomano" may be derived from "lei o mano," meaning
"a shark's lei."
Monstera Leaf Appliqué Quilt, 21st century
- Machine and hand-stitched cotton
- This 21st century recreation of a traditional Hawaiian
quilt represents the merging of two cultures. Prior to contact with the
West, native Hawaiians wore simple garments made from "kappa"
fibers which featured hand-painted decorations of local plants. In the
late 18th and early 19th centuries, travelers from the U.S. brought with
them the tradition of the patchwork quilt. Native Hawaiians soon started
creating primarily appliqué quilts which included representations
of local foliage such as the Monstera leaf, as seen here.
- Pohaku Ku'I Poi (Poi Pounder), 21st century
- Lava rock
- The poi pounder is considered one of the most valuable
Hawaiian stone implements. After steaming or baking the taro root, once
considered the Hawaiian "staff of life," the tool was used to
crush and knead the cooked root into a paste called "poi." Later,
poi would be mixed with water to produce a sweet, highly nutritious mixture
that could be eaten all by itself.
- Three Ni'ihau Shell Leis,
- Assorted shells
- The tradition of Ni'ihau shell leis, or pupu, comes from
the small and remote island of Ni'ihau. Because of its arid climate, Ni'ihau
contains little vegetation, and the pupu has been adopted as the island's
"flower." For centuries, craftsmen have scoured the shores of
Ni'ihau for tiny shells that have washed ashore. After sorting the shells
by type, size and color, they would carefully pierce and string them into
complex designs. Because this process is so painstaking, Ni'ihau leis have
always been seen as precious, luxurious jewelry -- the Hawaiian equivalent
of the pearl necklace.
- On display are three contemporary examples of Ni'ihau
leis. The longer lei is a three-strand Lei Kui Pikake, meaning "sewn
like a flower lei of jasmine." The smaller leis are an example of
Lei Kui Kipona or "lei sewn with a mixture of shells." Today,
the Ni'ihau Island is privately owned and virtually inaccessible to outsiders,
making the leis made there all the more coveted.