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Catalog Data

Donor Name:
Queen Kapiolani  Search this
Height - Object:
53 cm
Depth - Object:
43 cm
Width - Object:
592 cm
Culture:
Hawaiian  Search this
Object Type:
Canoe / Sail / Mat / Gourd / Net
Place:
Hawaii (Hawaiʻi), United States, Polynesia
Accession Date:
25 Jan 1888
Notes:
FROM CARD: "A DUGOUT CANOE WITH A BOUND-ON LOW SUPERSTRUCTURE. A SINGLE LOG OUTRIGGER, LASHED TO TWO SUSPENSION ARMS. SINGLE MAST AND A "LOOSE-FOOTED SPIRIT [sic, should be Sprit, not Spirit] SAIL". TWO BASKETRY WOVEN MATS GO WITH IT. COLLECTED BY: GEORGE MERRILL, CONSUL. THIS ETHNOLOGY NO. [160416] WAS ASSIGNED, BECAUSE IT APPARENTLY WAS UNUSED. - R. ELDER 6/17/1980. J.W. COLLINS CATALOG P. 1363." THIS BOAT APPARENTLY ALSO CATALOGUED AS NUMBER 307215 AT ONE TIME, AS OLD DIVISION OF ENGINEERING NUMBER 76111, ETC. IS LISTED FOR BOTH. CARD SAYS: " COLLECTED BY: GEORGE MERRILL, CONSUL", BUT IT IS NOT CLEAR IN THE RECORDS IF HE WAS ACTUALLY THE COLLECTOR. RATHER IT IS MORE PROBABLE THAT THE BOAT CAME TO THE SMITHSONIAN THROUGH HIS ASSISTANCE.
Per Dr. Adrienne L. Kaeppler, this is the oldest documented existing Hawaiian canoe in the world. When Queen Kapiolani sent this canoe to the Smithsonian, it was already quite old. A hole at the bottom of the canoe suggests that it had hit a reef and would have been difficult to repair.
Canoe (without sail) was on display in National Museum of Natural History exhibit "Na Mea Makamae o Hawai'i - Hawaiian Treasures", 2004-2005.
Canoe is described (under number 76111) as a Hawaiian fishing canoe in U.S. National Museum Bulletin # 127, pp. 286-287. This publication is available online: http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/7868048 .
This is probably the canoe shown in a photo in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, described as "Unidentified male staff member from United States National Museum [in the 1880s]... manning an outrigger sailing canoe on Museum grounds." SIA Acc. 11-007, Box 019 - United States National Museum. Division of Graphic Arts, Photographic Collection, 1860-1960 (url: http://collections.si.edu/search/detail/edanmdm:siris_arc_390596). Note that in 2018, the outrigger float/balance log and two booms that were previously stored as part of this canoe, were found to belong with E307212 instead, and have been so labelled.
The Wa'a Project, established by Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization (NMNH), included a Recovering Voices Community Research Visit June 16-27, 2018. The visit brought master and apprentice Hawaiian and Māori canoe carvers and builders to study E164016-0, a historic Hawaiian wa'a (canoe). The group included: Raymond Bumatay, master Hawaiian canoe carver; Alexander 'Alika' Bumatay, master Hawaiian canoe carver; James Eruera, master Māori canoe carver; Bryce Motu, apprentice Māori canoe carver; Leslie 'Les' Matiu (O'Connor), apprentice Māori canoe carver; Kālewa Correa, Curator of Hawai'i and the Pacific at Smithsonian's APAC; Alexis Ching, apprentice Hawaiian canoe carver and documentary book maker; Dino Morrow, documentary photographer; Shannon Hennessey, APAC intern. About the hull, mast, sail: The canoe is made of koa and hibiscus. Ray noted that the gunnel is loose due to being replaced and not being lashed correctly. Ray noted that this is not a fishing canoe, it is a leisure/recreation canoe. He explained that fishing canoes have big bellies to carry the catch and Kālewa added that this canoe would have moved faster than a fishing canoe. Ray and Alika also noted that the sail and mast were added to the wa'a just before it was sent to the Smithsonian because the mast does not show any wear and because an extra pepeaio (projection inside the canoe to hold a seat) was an addition. The kumu kia (mast step) is made of hala wood. They believe the wa'a was not originally built to be used with a sail. Alika notes that having a canoe for leisure is unusual. Ray explained that you would need a log of about 24 feet to begin carving this canoe. The bottom part is shaped first, then the inner part. This canoe was carved with an adze, it is possible they used a metal adze for some of the carving. Ray and Kālewa spoke of the manu (curved endpieces covering the bow and stern parts of the hull) and moamoa (point at the stern end of the canoe) of the wa'a. Ray noted the manu is used as a guide for a canoe to break the waves while coming down a swell so it doesn't dive. Moamoa: When the people migrated to Hawai'i, a god wanted to come along, but the canoe was already overloaded. The traveler told the god he could come if he could find a place to sit. The god sat on the moamoa and ever since, Hawaiian built canoes have had the god seat, the moamoa. About the patch/repairs: The patching on the wa'a was a cause for discussion the entire visit. The repair on the keel was done with a butterfly patch using coconut fiber lashing. The repair work on the bottom of the canoe was a style that Ray had never seen before. Alexis believed that the patch was not done in Hawai'i prior to shipping the wa'a because she feels it was unlikely that Queen Kapi'olani would have sent a broken boat to represent Hawai'i. Discussion frequently returned to the patching being more of a Māori style of patching than a Hawaiian style. No firm conclusion was made. About the paddle: Ray explained that it is important to have a paddle in a koa canoe to keep the spirits out. If wandering spirits see a paddle in a canoe, they know it is being used, but if they find one without a paddle then they decide to stay and inhabit the canoe. The wa'a at NMNH is lonely without a paddle. Ray and Alika donated a paddle to NMNH to go with the wa'a. They had it shipped directly to MSC so it would arrive before they left Washington, DC. [See catalog number E436262-0] About rigging: When lashing the outrigging together with the wa'a, the rigging Ray and Alika first used to attach the 'iako (boom) to the ama (float) did not work correctly because the two replacement 'iako made in 2004 do not fit the ama properly and were not made correctly. Ray noted that they used an "everyday folks rigging" instead of the kind the Bumatay family usually uses, which is a chief's rigging. Ray Bumatay related the story behind the style of rigging they used to bind the 'iako to the wae. A Tahitian princess arrived in Kauai and her retainers attemped to hide her identity by hiding her colors, but the people of Kauai noticed that she was still being treated like royalty. The King of Kauai fell in love with her and took her for his wife. He was jealous of her beauty and ordered his head rigger to make a chastity belt for her. Over time, the chastity belt design was adapted as a canoe rigging. The design is very strong, even if a part is cut or broken it still holds. That is why the rigging design is called the Pa'u or Dress of Princess 'Ilukia. In addition to the 2 'iako, ama, hull, and kumu kia, the additional pieces labeled with this catalog number were identified as packing materials from when the wa'a was shipped to the Smithsonian. At some point in the past additional objects were also given the catalog number of the wa'a. This included the float of another canoe that the group identified as most likely belonging to the Samoan canoe, E307212-0, and which was subsequently changed to that number.
Record Last Modified:
16 Feb 2022
Specimen Count:
25
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Accession Number:
020085
USNM Number:
E160416-0
See more items in:
Anthropology
Data Source:
NMNH - Anthropology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/3bdda85de-cb84-4611-b850-c682f8c03ec4
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhanthropology_8344757