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Africa and Oceania

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Hawai'ian Pendant Necklace (Lei Niho Palaoa)


Creation date: 18th-19th Centuries
Creation place: United States

Other Information

Type: Necklace
Medium and Support: Hair, Sperm Whale tooth, fiber sennit
Credit Line: Gift of Sana Art Foundation
Accession Number: 2010.55
State/Province: Hawai'i
Dimensions: 12 in. x 8 in. x 2 3/4 in. (30.48 cm x 20.32 cm x 6.99 cm)

Label Copy

Worn by the royal class in Hawai'i as a symbol of power and genealogical inheritance, this Ivory Pendant Necklace (lei niho palaoa) is made of Sperm Whale tooth, sennit fiber, and human hair. Miniature braids from the hair of an elite, maternal woman was sheered and entwined, used as a spiritually potent material to enhance this 18th-century work. Passed on through native Hawai'ian generations, this necklace was a visual symbol of the legitimization and adornment of a powerful ruler.
Last Updated: 1/9/2019


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Oceanic Art: A Celebration of Form , 1/31/2009 - 1/3/2010


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Dr. Derrick R. Cartwright, Ph.D.. Oceanic Art: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2009
Page Number: 74, Figure Number: 49

Teri Sowell, PhD. Rituality California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum. Escondido, CA, 2007
Page Number: 33, Figure Number: No #

Teri Sowell, PhD. The Space Between SANA Press. Rancho Santa Fe, CA, 2006
Page Number: 7, Figure Number: 1

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