Sunday, July 17, 2016

ROYAL FEATHERS: HAWAIIAN BIRD GARMENTS AT LACMA



This week's arts and cultures column is about a current exhibit at LACMA.

Here's how the piece begins:

Skip the Robert Mapplethorpe.

Instead, go to LACMA before Aug. 7 and check out a truly transcendent exhibit called “Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Na Hulu Ali‘i.”

“For centuries on the Hawaiian Islands,” you may not have known, “vividly colored feathers gathered from native birds were valuable cultural resources, ornamenting spectacular garments painstakingly constructed by hand. … [The garments] bore rainbows of feathers to signify the divinity and power of chiefs (ali‘i), who wore them for spiritual protection and to proclaim their identity and status. These unique valuables also found use as objects of diplomacy, helping to secure political alliances and agreements.”

The first documented visit of Westerners to the Hawaiian Islands occurred in December 1778, when Captain James Cook and his crew arrived. When they left, they took with them more than 40 featherwork garments that had been bestowed as diplomatic gifts. Featherwork evolved over the course of the ensuing monarchies and the next 100 years.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Heather for another reminder of beauty - God bless you

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  2. a good piece Heather - James Cook was also the first recorded European to "set foot" on NZ soil. I have a lot of Cookiana books etc here including the daily diary of his scientist Joseph Banks on the Endeavour 1769/1770 - an amazing record. By the way already 8.30am on 19th so a very happy birthday to you - richly sprinkled with blessings

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