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Man in Helmet
[HEL-0161]

by Captain Cook's Hawaii



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A Man of the Sandwich Islands, With His Helmet

Artist: John Webber
Plate: 64
Engraver: J. K. Sherwin

Printed by: Lahaina Printsellers, Ltd., 2016

This elegant portrait is identified as the Hawaiian chief, Kanaina, who was one of the Hawaiians killed in the fighting that followed Cook's death. This image is one of the most famous and frequently reproduced of all the Third Voyage images.

The crested feather helmet (mahiole) and the feather cape ('ahu 'ula) were among the finest and most distinctive examples of Hawaiian craftsmanship. None of the other Polynesian islanders created featherwork of similar intricacy or quality.

The feathers were collected by a specialist called po'e hahai manu, and were a significant component of the tithe paid to the administrative chief during the annual makahiki season. Most of these were then passed on to the ruling chief of the district, where they were collected until an adequate number were available for creating a helmet or cloak.

Much has been made of the apparent similarity between the feather headdress and the design of the Spanish helmet of an earlier period. There has been speculation that this image proves the existence of an earlier Spanish visitation to Hawaii, although there is no firm evidence that such an encounter ever occurred.

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.