Group of Ten Hook Pendants, lei palaoa, Hawaiian Islands
heights 7/8 to 2 3/8in (2 to 6cm)
of various materials including bone, tooth and shell.
Private American Collection
According to Rose, Hawaii, The Royal Isles, 1980: p 196, "Early versions of the Hawaiian hook pendant exist in coral, shell, calcite and other substances, but the preferred material was whale ivory. The scarce resource was obtained from the teeth, niho, of beached sperm whales, palaoa, which were claimed by chiefs on whose beaches they occasionally foundered. As Hawaiians ventured into colder northern waters on whaling vessels in the late 18th century, they encountered the walrus, adding its previously unknown tusks to their scant reserves of whale ivory. With more dependable sources of raw material, the small pendants that averaged no more than two or three inches long soon developed into the larger version familiar today."