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helmet

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Oc,HAW.108

  • Description

    Helmet (mahiole) made of 'ie'ie vine, olonā fibre netting, and red feathers of the i'iwi and yellow and black feathers of the amakihi (?) birds. Helmet woven from 'ie'ie, closely shaped to head with a high crescent-shaped crest. Covered with a knotted fibre netting of olonā, with red feathers from the i'iwi bird. The top of the crest is covered with yellow feathers. The helmet is edged with a band consisting of yellow and black feathers in alternate sections.

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  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 1750-1779
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 37 centimetres
    • Width: 17 centimetres
    • Depth: 30 centimetres (front to back)
    • Width: 3 inches (of crest - from registration slip)
  • Curator's comments

    Registration slip information, handwritten:
    ?Banks Coll [in different handwriting to remainder]
    Hawaii
    Helmet, na mahiole, of basketwork (made of aerial roots of the ie ie tree) with high overarching crest, & covered with feathers on a foundation of olona netting. The top of the crest is of red & yellow in alternate transverse rows. The sides both of crest and body are scarlet: the front edge of the body has a black & yellow binding.
    W. of crest 3"
    H. of " 5"
    T.L. 15"Description from bound volume of registration slips of Hawaiian artefacts, written by James Edge Partington(?) in the 19th century:
    Hawaii
    Feather helmet (na mahiole). The framework is of close firm basket work covered with a network of olona fibre to which the feathers are attached. The crest is high with overarching front, the upper surface is covered with yellow (amakihi – Drepanis flava) & scarlet (iiwi – vestaria coccinia) feathers in alternate rows the rest of the helmet is covered with the scarlet feathers with an edging of yellow 7 black ones.
    BM

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  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 87 bibliographic details
    • Kaeppler 1978 p. 73 bibliographic details
    • Kaeppler et al 1997 p.99, fig.58 bibliographic details
    • Cox 1988 pp.36-41 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.220
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.220
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.220
    2010 Sept-Dec, London, BM History of the World 100 objects
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'
    2013 early, Washington, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Hawaii ON HOLD

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1780-1800

  • Acquisition notes

    Thought to have been collected during Cook's third voyage (1776-1780), which included visits to the islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. As this style of helmet was associated with chiefs of the island of Hawaii, it is likely that it was collected early in 1779 when the Resolution and Discovery spent time there, particularly in Kealakekua Bay. Adrienne Kaeppler (1978, p.73) suggests the helmet was bequeathed to Sir Joseph Banks from Captain Charles Clerke of the Discovery, who died on the voyage.

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Oc,HAW.108

  • Additional IDs

    • Oc17??D6.108 (old CDMS no.)
Helmet made of 'ie'ie vine, olona fibre netting, and red feathers of the i'iwi and yellow and black feathers of the amakihi (?) birds.  Helmet woven from 'ie'ie, closely shaped to head with a high crescent-shaped crest.  Covered with a knotted fibre netting of olona, with red feathers from the i'iwi bird.  The top of the crest is covered with yellow feathers.  The helmet is edged with a band consisting of yellow and black feathers in alternate sections.

Helmet made of 'ie'ie vine, olona fibre netting, and red feathers of the i'iwi and yellow and black feathers of the amakihi (?) birds. Helmet woven from 'ie'ie, closely shaped to head with a high crescent-shaped crest. Covered with a knotted fibre netting of olona, with red feathers from the i'iwi bird. The top of the crest is covered with yellow feathers. The helmet is edged with a band consisting of yellow and black feathers in alternate sections.

Image description

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Object reference number: EOC697

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