Stone Priest Bowl, kapuahikuni ana' an'a, Hawaiian Islands
diameter 3 1/4in (8.3cm)
of semi-spherical form, the flattened top with a central carved out cavity; red hematite with worn surface.
The color red was used throughout Hawaiian material culture to signify that an object was royal in provenance and sacred. As such, it was reserved exclusively for the ali'i and taboo for commoners.
Bowls such as these were used by kahuna anā'anā in the process of "praying to death," pule anā'anā. In this ritual the kahuna anā'anā collected hair, spittle, nail pairings, or other items containing the intended victim's personal mystical power or mana. The kahuna anā'anā could control this mana, and therefore the victim, through the use of prayers or spells. Victims were known to take to their mats, waste away, and die; however, one under the spell of a kahuna anā'anā could seek release and guidance from a healing kahuna.
Cf. Brigham's "Stone Implements and Stone Work of the Ancient Hawaiians", Bishop Museum Memoirs vol.I, #4; pp. 56-58 for the three uses to which these stone cups were put.