King Kalakaua’s 50th birthday celebration, with detailed tour of Iolani Palace, 1886.


The Palace Decorated for the Festivities.

Changes in the Pictures and Decorations Which Bring Out the Ancient History of the People.

In view of the festivities which commence this morning in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the natal day of His Majesty the King, Iolani Palace has undergone extensive preparations, the arrangements for the reception and entertainment of the guests being very complete. The balconies are bedecked in bunting embodying in bold and striking designs the colors of the Royal Standard. The principal entrance hall has been richly caparisoned at the hands of the upholsterer. Its walls have been newly hung with the valuable oil paintings, representing in life size the line of Hawaiian Sovereigns, with their consorts, from the time of Kamehameha I, downwards. The first position on the right is occupied by the portrait of the Conqueror, whose reign marked so momentous and epoch in the history of the Kingdom, and whose genius has so largely influenced its destiny. Side by side with this is the portrait of Kekauluohi, mother of King Lunalilo. Next are those of Kmehameha II and Queen Kaumaulii [Kamamalu ?]; Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama. On the left are arranged the portraits of Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma; Kamehameha V and King Lunalilo. The niches in the intervening spaces are each filled with some choice fern or other horticultural specimen. The general effect is extremely pleasing to the eye.

The throne room, in which the receptions will take place, has been newly furnished with a rich crimson carpet. On either side of the dais are suspended the Royal Orders of Kamehameha, Kalakaua, Kapiolani and the Crown of Hawaii, whilst the walls on every side are adorned with the numerous foreign decorations with which His Majesty has from time to time been invested. Each one is enclosed in a gilt oval frame, surmounted with the Royal Arms of the particular nation or empire to which the Order belongs. Leaving the throne room and crossing the central hall, one passes into the Blue room . The first object that meets the eye is a striking portrait of His Majesty in the uniform of the King’s Guard, with decorations. Facing this, to the right of the doorway, is one of Her Majesty the Queen, whilst on the left is a full length life size representation of Louis XIV of France, a work of rare value. The two former are from the brush of Charles Hasselmann. Among the many ornaments and curios is a set of vases in Benares brass ware, from India. To the rear of this apartment is the spacious dining hall, in which are displayed the massive silver table ware, each article bearing the Royal Arms in colored enamel. The furniture is early English in style, whilst some choice works of art adorns the walls. The latter include a portrait of Kamehameha IV, taken during the monarch’s boyhood, a companion pair of Napoleon I and IV, taken during that monarch’s boyhood, a companion pair of Napoleon I and Blucher; Admiral Thomas, who restored the country; the Czar Alexander II of Russia, and a graphic delineation of the crater of Kilauea by night, painted by Furneaux.

Ascending the grand staircase the upper hall is next entered, wherein the King’s Privy Council of State is usually held. The central figure is a bust in bronze of His Majesty the King; oil paintings and tasteful cabinets, containing articles of vertu,are disposed on either side, while the hall, which runs the entire width of the building, commands a magnificent vista of Pauoa Valley, the mountains, tier behind tier, with the different hues forming an effective background. The front window overlooks the Aliiolani Hale, and affords a distant view of the sea.

The private apartments of His Majesty lead off from the upper hall, and are located on the left, or Ewa, side of the Palace. In the front is the music room, in which the heavy style of furniture is discarded for a lighter and more appropriate one, the appointments being in excellent taste. In the room are a set of half a dozed water color drawings of special historic interest. They are illustrative of island scenes at a period prior to the advent of civilization, among which are representations of the large double canoes carrying the ancient idols; the heiaus or temples, both open and closed; grass houses, etc. These pictures are enlargements by R. C. Barnfield, after the originals taken on the spot by Captain Kotzbue, the Russian author of “Voyages in the Pacific.”

At the further end, facing the entrance, is a speaking likeness of Her Majesty the Queen, life size, in oil, by Furneaux. The room also contains a very fine painting of the crater of Kilauea, by Tavernier; a Belgian Princess, a daughter of the present King, together with cabinet photographs of Sir John and Lady Franklin. Less obtrusive, but of considerable interest, is a study in music, framed in a peculiarly chaste and unique manner.

A pleasantly arranged boudoir is attached to the music room, furnished in the same luxurious fashion which characterized the larger chamber, and containing several smaller works of art, such as photographs of the residence of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts in England, a mediæval knight in armor, executed in fine lace, and several small studies of the old masters. The library is at the rear of the music room, and contains collections of works which indicate a keen appreciation of standard literature. The walls are hung with a variety of choice works of art, and an interesting feature is an immense calabash mounted with massive gold rims, engraved in miniature with island scenes. To the rear of this again is His Majesty’s bed chamber, furnished with an elegant suite of light blue silk, and replete with the emblems of Royalty.

The private apartments of Her Majesty the Queen are on the Waikiki side, and are elegantly furnished with a variety of styles, the upholstery being for the most part of embroidered satin, while an infinity of small and elegant ornaments, and mounted portraits of members of the Royal Family are disposed around in studied negligence, numerous mirrors reflecting and ???? the brilliant scene. Her Majesty’s boudoir is entered from one corner of the apartment, and is to some extent a reproduction in miniature of the foregoing. The bedchamber of H. R. H. the late Princess Kekaulike is likewise entirely renovated for the accommodation of the young Princes who are shortly expected from the United States. This latter operation is proceeding under the personal supervision of H. R. H. the Princess Poomaikelani. Many of the appointments are in Japanese style, and the same lavish disposal of embroidered satin is observable, while a distinguishing feature is a portrait of His Majesty in Japanese costume. Both this apartment and that of Her Majesty are laid with Nihou [Niihau] matting, which imparts a refreshing air of coolness.

The several offices in the basement of the edifice have had a change in honor of the occasion, a large portion of the valuable collection of oil paintings which were formerly placed in the dining hall and elsewhere having been removed thither.

A capacious lanai has been erected in the Palace grounds at the approach to the front entrance, for holding the luau. The building, which is a temporary structure, is about 300 feet in length, and will be elaborately decorated with the national colors. An electric battery for lighting purposes has been placed in position, and the effect of the numerous and costly innovations under the dazzling influence of this great modern invention is one of  peculiar splendor, its brilliant rays both on the exterior and interior of the Palace searching out and presenting to the gaze every nook and corner.


At 6 o’clock last evening the Nihoa Society called at the Palace in a body to present their respects to His Majesty, whom they presented with a very handsome present in the shape of a calabash of native wood, silver mounted with a shield bearing the dates 1836 and 1886. Dependant from the shield is a pair of rare feathers. Before leaving the members of the society rendered several native songs.

At 7 o’clock Mr. Frank P. Hastings, Charge d’Affaires of the United States Legation, was presented to His Majesty by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and delivered, on behalf of the President of the United States, a congratulatory address, which appears in our “By Authority” column.

His Excellency Mr. Gibson waited upon His Majesty during the evening and presented, with congratulations, a magnificent pair of elephant’s tusks, each weighing 51½ pounds. They are mounted on a stand of koa and other descriptions of fancy native woods, and suspended by a chain is a silver tablet bearing on one side the following inscription: “His Majesty King Kalakaua, born November 16, 1836, ascended throne of Hawaii February 12, 1874. In commemoration of the fiftieth birthday of His Majesty.” On the reverse side is the text, The Horns of the Righteous Shall be Exalted.”

Mr. Gibson, we understand, has presented these tusks as symbols of royal authority and dominion. The Bible abounds in reference to the signification of tusks of horn as signifying glory, honor and dominion. In one instance Ezekiel speaks of the presentation to a ruler, saying: “They brought for thee a present of horns of ivory.” And in a score of texts there is reference to the horns or tusks of animals as symbols of royal authority and dominion. But the most noted instance in ancient history of using horns as such symbols is illustrated in the history of Alexander the Great. When King of Macedonia he was styled simply Alexander of Macedonia, a petty state of Greece, with no great extent of domain. But when he had overrun and organized Asia, then there was invariably attached to his profile two horns as symbols of his increased power  and dominion, and he became styled D’oul Karnein, or the two-horned.

At midnight the birthday of His Majesty was ushered in by Royal salute of 21 guns from the battery on the summit of Punchbowl hill, from whence a row of bonfires simultaneously shot their flames into the heavens. Rockets were also fired off at intervals, and the mountain was brilliantly illuminated, casting a ruddy glare over the mauka side of the city. The bells rang out a merry peal from the several churches, conveying the alohas of each religious body to its Sovereign. The fire companies joined issue, and the residents turned out on every hand to witness the rejoicings. Firecrackers resounded right and left, the whole, imposing though it was, forming but a prelude of what is yet to come.

(Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 11/16/1886, p. 2)


The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume V, Number 272, Page 2. November 16, 1886.

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