Important and Rare Kahili Handle, Hawaiian Islands
Wood, turtle shell, marine ivory, bone
length 19 1/4in (49cm)
Together with an original genealogy printed (up to John A. Cummings) in "The Cummings Case, a Reminiscent of 1895", Honolulu, The Mercantile PTB Co., Ltd., 1905
John Adams Kuakini Cummins (18351913), Honolulu, Hawaii
Private Collection, Hawaii
"Called the 'Prince of Entertainers' and the 'entertainer of princes', John Adams Cummins was a prosperous businessman known for his generous and lavish hospitality to royalty and commoner alike and for his knowledge and love of Hawaiian traditions." (Williams, Rianna, The Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 30, 1996)
On kahili handles, Buck (1957: p. 579) notes "Several feathers were tied together with olona fiber to form bunches which, in turn, were tied to a coconut-leaf midrib. The poles were usually made out of a kauila wood spear, but more elaborate ones were made by stringing disks of tortoise shell, bone, or ivory on a slender core of kauila wood or whalebone. Leg bones were usually used to fashion these disks and it was considered an honor to have one's bones used on a kahili handle, in contrast to the insult when the bones were used as fishhooks or to inlay spittoons."