Lady Franklin cape (detail) (#5948). ‘apapane feathers, ‘ō‘ō feathers. Bishop Museum
Royal Hawaiian Featherwork: Nā Hulu Ali‘i
Explore the distinctive art, culture, and history of Hawai‘i with the first exhibition of Hawaiian featherwork on the U.S. mainland, developed in partnership with the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Presented in San Francisco, which is considered to be the gateway to the Pacific, the exhibition will feature approximately 75 rare and stunning examples of the finest featherwork capes and cloaks in existence, as well as royal staffs of feathers (kāhili), feather lei (lei hulu manu), helmets (mahiole), feathered god images (akua hulu manu), and related eighteenth- and nineteenth-century paintings and works on paper.
Handcrafted of plant fiber and rare feathers from endemic birds of the islands, the cloaks (‘ahu‘ula) and capes provided spiritual protection to Hawaiian chiefs, proclaiming their identity and status. The abstract patterns and compositions of royal feathers (nā hulu ali‘i) are both beautiful and full of cultural meaning. While the arrangements of their forms—crescents, triangles, circles, quadrilaterals, and lines—and fields of color appear contemporary, they are ancient. Symbols of the power and status of Hawai‘i’s monarchs at home and abroad, these vibrantly colored treasures of the Hawaiian people endure today as masterpieces of unparalleled artistry, technical skill, and cultural pride.
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.
The Michael Taylor Trust
Diane B. Wilsey
The Selz Foundation, Inc.
Bank of the West
Mrs. Dwight (Blossom) Strong
Thomas W. Weisel Family
Mark and Carolyn Blackburn
The Donald and Maureen Green Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Smith
Support for the education and public programs is provided by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.