A Man of the Sandwich Islands, Dancing
Artist: John Webber
Engraver: C. Grignion
Printed by: Lahaina Printsellers, Ltd., 2016
Hula, the Hawaiian word for dance, was a sacred component of Hawaiian culture. It is said to have been introduced to Hawaii from Tahiti, along with the pahu hula, a large, sharkskin-covered drum, and long bamboo tapping sticks called ka'eke'eke. These provided rhythmic accompaniment to the chants recited from memory that provided the hula with its often-poetic story line.
The hula was performed as part of sacred temple ceremonials, to honor the genealogies of high-ranking chiefs, as well as in popular performances that attracted commoners and royalty alike. Both men and women performed hula, with numerous stylistic differences that evolved over centuries. Dancers might perform individually or in large, carefully choreographed groups.
The solo dancer pictured in this image is seen holding an uli'uli, a feather-covered gourd rattle. On his calves are leggings made of loose-hanging dog's teeth. Called kupe'e niho 'ilio, they weighed up to ten pounds and included as many as 1,356 teeth, adding rhythmic accompaniment to the dancer's leg movements. The tattoos on the dancer's arms and legs are an example of the elaborate decoration in Hawaii.
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.