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OCEANIC ART FROM THE ESTATE OF LYNDA CUNNINGHAM

Marine Ivory Hook Pendant, Hawaii
JUMP TO LOT
50

OCEANIC ART FROM THE ESTATE OF LYNDA CUNNINGHAM

Marine Ivory Hook Pendant, Hawaii
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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New York

Marine Ivory Hook Pendant, Hawaii

Provenance

Lynda Cunningham, New York

Catalogue Note

This hook shaped pendant, niho palaoa, would have been attached to a long bundled braid of human hair, to form the necklace and insignia of rank known as lei niho palaoa, 'the most spectacular of all Hawaiian ornaments' (Kaeppler, Polynesia: the Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection, 2010, p. 371). These necklaces were the preserve of the ali’i, the Hawaiian nobility, and according to David Malo, the Hawaiian historian, they were second in value and prestige only to feather articles, such as the great cloaks (ahu). Malo notes that the ali'i would wear their lei niho palaoa, like their cloaks, 'in battle or on occasions of ceremony and display' (Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities, 1903, p. 107).

The interpretation of the distinctive shape of niho palaoa remains uncertain. According to Cox and Davenport, its curving tongue-like shape represents the ultimate abstraction of the 'protruding jaw-mouth-tongue' form found in ‘aumakua images of family gods or deified ancestors (Cox & Davenport, Hawaiian Sculpture, 1974, p. 42), a theory which perhaps indicates the genealogical connection between these deities and the aristocratic wearers of lei niho palaoa.

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York