A superb and rare finger bowl washbasin, ipu holoi lima, Hawaiian Islands,
with label: John M. Warriner Hawaiian Collection
length 12 1/2in, height 3 1/4in
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An exquisite Maui-style double-faceted wood (probably kou) oval bowl with interior "finger-wipe" ridge and carved suspension lug; rich, deep brown patina.
As Jenkins describes in The Hawaiian Calabash (p. 49), "One of the earliest mentions of wooden washing bowls was in 1823. Rev. William Ellis, visiting High Chief Kuakini in Kailua-Kona, noticed: "Neat wooden dishes of water were handed to the governor and his friends, both before and after eating, in which they washed their hands. Uncivilized nations are seldom distinguished by habits of cleanliness; but this practice, we believe, is an ancient custom, generally observed by the chiefs, and all the higher order of people, throughout the islands." On p.56 Jenkins goes on to note: "These wooden washbasins were used before, after, and sometimes during meals. They were probably personal items, intended for the use of their owner only... Like spittoons, many of these washbasins were carved into unique shapes." Very few of these finger washbasin bowls have survived.
John M. Warriner, Hawaii
Warriner (1895-1960) was a collector and dealer in Pacific artifacts, with a particular interest in Hawaiian calabashes. Warriner sold a considerable number of calabashes to Mrs. Charles M. Cooke for the collection of ancient Hawaiian calabashes which she formed for The Honolulu Academy of Arts, an institution she founded.