Lydia Kaonohiponiponiokalani Aholo's Cape, Hawaiian Islands
greatest width 27in (69cm)
Dyed fowl feathers, fiber
Lydia Kaonohiponiponiokalani Aholo, Hawai'i
Private European Collection
Lydia Kaonohiponiponiokalani Aholo, called Tūtū by her family, was the hānai daughter of Queen Lili'uokalani, She was born on February 6, 1878 in Lahaina, Maui, during the kingdom era of Hawai'i. She was the daughter of the Honorable Luther Aholo who was a Lt. Governor and Minister of Interior under the reign of King Kalākaua. Her mother, Keahi, died six years after her birth. Queen Lili'uokalani requested that Tūtū be brought to her to be raised in at the royal household. Tūtū was then brought from Lahaina, Maui, to Honolulu, O'ahu by her maternal grandparents, Lo'e and Kawehenao.
"The feather capes and cloaks of Hawaii are beautiful products of native craftsmanship in which the craftsmen attained a high standard in technical skill and in color decoration. Cook (1784, vol. 2, p. 206) writes of the feather cloak and helmet, which he considered elegant. He says that the surface might be compared to the thickest and richest velvet, which they resemble, both as to the feel, and the glossy appearance. King (Cook, 1784, vol. 3, p. 136) adds that the feathered cloak and helmet..., in point of beauty and magnificence, is perhaps nearly equal to that of any nation in the world. He could have omitted the nearly without exaggeration.
The general name for feather capes and cloaks is ahu'ula, in which ahu means garment and 'ula means red. Throughout Polynesia red was the symbolic color of high chiefs and the gods...It is thus evident that at some period in the development of the Hawaiian capes red was retained in the minds of the people as the chiefly color and the capes made mostly or entirely of red feathers. Later, when yellow feathers became more valuable, owing to the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient supply, yellow superseded red as the chiefly color. However, the term 'ahu'ula had become so fixed that it persisted as the general name no matter what the principal color of the garment." (Buck, 1957: pp 215-17)