An Offering Before Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands
Artist: John Webber
Engraver: Figures by Hall, Landscape by Middiman
Printed by: Lahaina Printsellers, Ltd., 2013
After laying anchor in Kealakekua Bay in January 1779, Cook and select members of his crew were hosted at a sacred kava ceremony in front of what appears to be a temple dedicated to the god Lono.
Cook's arrival coincided with the celebration of the annual makahiki, a month-long festival honoring Lono, god of agriculture and fertility. It proved to be a fortuitous set of coincidences for Cook, for makahiki was a time when hostilities ceased, and festivities and feasting were part of the ceremonial events.
Hawaiian legends had predicted that Lono, one of the four primary gods of the Hawaiian pantheon, would one day return to Hawaii on "floating islands." The Discovery and Resolution, far larger than even the largest Hawaiian voyaging canoes, might well have been mistaken for floating islands as they sailed offshore. Many believe that Cook was treated with respectful deference as he was probably thought to be the returning Lono.
In this image, the kahana nui (high priest) honors Cook with an offering of a young pig as part of the kava ceremony.
We custom-print this facsimile on waterproof canvas in our Lahaina studio using the finest archival inks, which are tested and guaranteed not to fade or shift under normal circumstances for over 100 years. Modern printing techniques allow us to improve and enhance the historical subject matter, even as we're careful to preserve and maintain its historical and artistic integrity.