Hawaii loses another kii, 1877.

An Interesting Idol.—Mons. Ballieu has been so fortunate as to secure a wooden god, which was quite recently discovered in a cave on the island of Hawaii, on the lower slopes of Mauna Kea. It is comparatively well executed, showing a great advance on the style of art exhibited in the idols found on Dr. Trousseau’s sheep ranch some months ago, which doubtless belonged to a much earlier period. It is cut out from a solid log of some light-colored wood, probably Mamane, and stands just three feet in height, including pedestal. The image has the usual squat position which is seen in all Hawaiian sculptural efforts, and the features, especially the mouth, are hideously distorted. The most remarkable thing about the statue is a broad flat arched projection, springing from the back of the shoulders, and forming a sort of canopy over the head, extending down in front of the face to about the level of the mouth. From the upper periphery of this projection radiate a number of long spikes. It is hard to say what this unusual adjunct is intended to represent, but it may be that the head was originally covered with a wig, and the head piece represents a mahiole or a helmet. We congratulate Mr. Ballieu on his good luck in securing this antiquity, which he sends to one of the museums of Paris; but at the same time we must express our regret that it could not have been placed in our own national museum.

[Does anyone know where this kii is today?]

(Hawaiian Gazette, 4/25/1877, p. 3)


1 thought on “Hawaii loses another kii, 1877.

  1. Aloha e ka poʻē nāna ka nūpepa ,

    If I’m not mistaken, this ki’i is still in a collection in Paris at the Musée du Quai Branly,on the Left Bank of the River Seine. It is now on loan as part of an exhibition called “Oceania” at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. I have visited this exhibition and seen a kiʻi which fits the description in your article. This kiʻi is being labelled as a representation of the akua Lono.

    Mahalo for this article, it does explain the crescent-shaped frame on its head supported by spikes which is presumed to be there as a wig-support. In the exhibition space, it unfortunately is not placed next to the British Museum’s mammoth “Kūkaʻilimoku “, which made a recent visit to our Bishop Museum in 2010.

    Mahalo hou, hope this is a kōkua to you.


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