Helmet

Description
Museum accession register states “helmet ornamented with feathers. Sandwich Islands. Devon & Exeter Institution. Feathers of Drepanis coccinea.” Donated by the Devon & Exeter Institution in January 1872.

Height = 244 x width = 302mm

The feathered helmet (mahiole) was worn with a cloak or a cape to protect the head that contained a priest’s ‘mana’ or sacred power. The shape and featherwork decoration of cloaks and capes would have met the helmet to offer added protection to the head and the top of the back as these places were considered sacred and vulnerable. Touching a head would degrade or pollute the ‘mana’.
Helmets were constructed in much the same way as feather-god images. The base incorporated the ‘ie’ie vine (Freycinetia arborea) which could be activated by the addition of red feathers.
Accession Loan No.
E1775
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Common Name
helmet
Simple Name
helmet
Full Name
helmet (mahiole)
Dimensions
whole width 302 mm; whole height 244 mm
Production Year High
1872
Production County
Hawai’i
Production Country
Hawaiian Islands (United States of America)
Production Area Region
Polynesia
Production Continent
Oceania
Family Group

Material
aerial roots; feathers; fibre
Function Name
clothing
Function Detail
headwear
Collection Continent
Pacific

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