necklet

Seed necklet constructed from a variety of different species.

Seed Necklace, Lei Hua, Hawaii, Eastern Polynesia. Although they have become forever associated in popular Western culture with garlands of colourful tropical flowers, the Hawaiians made headbands (lei po‘o) and necklaces (lei ‘a‘i) from a number of different plant materials: flowers, fruit, leaves, stems, and seaweeds. The only fully permanent lei, however, were those called lei hua, made from seeds and nuts. As in this example from the turn of the 20th Century, a range of different coloured and shaped seeds were carefully selected, pierced through the middle and strung. The most popular seeds for making lei hua were manele (soapberry, Sapindus saponaria), kaulu (Planchonella sandwicensis), lonomea (Sapindus oahuensis) and shiny orange wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis). They were stored in gourd containers, worn as personal ornaments, and placed over a guest’s head to welcome them. Seeds, vegetable fibre. Early 20th Century. Formerly in the private collection of a Mr. Kelson.

Collection Information

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