- Museum number
God image, figure or feather head made from the roots of the ie'ie screwpalm (freycinetia arborea?), fibre cord from the olona plant, human hair, pearlshell, seeds, dogs teeth and feathers from the 'i'iwi, o'o and mamo birds.
- Production date
- 18thC (before 1780)
Height: 115 centimetres (crate)
Height: 62 centimetres
Width: 42.50 centimetres (crate)
Width: 30 centimetres
Depth: 36 centimetres (crate)
- Curator's comments
Collection history not known, but it closely resembles a Cook third-voyage example in Berlin, formerly in the Leverian Museum and depicted there in 1783 by Sarah Stone (Force, R.W. and M Force,1968, 'Art and artefacts of the 18th Century: objects in the Leverian Museum as painted by Sarah Stone, Honolulu: B.P. Bishop Museum, 27; Kaeppler, A.L.,1978, 'Artificial Curiosities': being an exhibition of native manufactures collected on the three Pacific voyages of Captain Cook, R.N', Special Publication 65. Honolulu: B.P. Bishop Museum, 53,55).
This example, similar in construction and materials to the previous head [OcHAW.78] (for details see Buck, P.H. [Te Rangi Hiroa].,1957, 'Arts and crafts of Hawaii', B.P.Bishop Museum: 503-12), is notable for the attachment of large amounts of human hair, braided at the front. Hair was shaved off as a sign of mourning and sacrifice by relatives at the death of high-status people, to be incorporated into ritually important objects such as god images and necklaces. The pearl-shell eyes are secured with globular blackened wood pegs. It remains uncertain what god was embodied in or represented by these heads. Kaeppler, A.L., 1982, 'Genealogy and disrespect: a study of symbolism in Hawaiian images,' RES, 3:104-6) argues that both Ku and Lono were invoked at different times.
Images include 35mm photos taken by Ben Burt in 1968 before and after conservation.
In 2012 Julian Hume from the Natural History Museum identified the feathers as being from birds endemic to the Hawaiian Islands; the i'iwi (red feathers), the o'o and the mamo bird (yellow and black feathers) - the latter two birds are now extinct.
In an article in 2013 Adrienne Kaeppler confirms that the basketry structure is made from the split aerial rootlets of the ie'ie screwpalm plant, which are intertwined and covered with a netting of high-grade fibre made from the olona plant, which the feathers, teeth, hair and shell are attached to.
See Kaeppler, A. Power, prayer and plumage in HALI, Spring 2013, Issue 175
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1975-1985 12 Dec-23 Jun, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, Hawaii
1979-1980 15 Feb-29 Sept, London, BM, Museum of Mankind, Captain Cook in the South Seas (temporarily removed from Museum of Mankind, Hawaii exhibition 1975-1985)
2006 21 May-13 Aug, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Pacific Encounters
2006-2007 28 Sept-7 Jan, London, BM, Power and Taboo
2008 16 Jun-14 Sep, Paris, Musée du quai Branly, Pacific Encounters
2009 28 Aug-2010 28 Feb, Bonn, Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific
2018 18 Sept-9 Dec, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Oceania
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Likely to have been collected on Cook's 3rd voyage (1776-1780).
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Oc17??D6.78 (old CDMS no.)