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North American Indian and Native Hawaiian Quilt Collection

Ke Kahi O Kai'ulani or The Comb of Ka'iulani
Harriet Soong
Native Hawaiian, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Cotton with polyester filling
97" x 99”
MSUM 1997:67.1
Photo by Doug Elbinger, all rights reseved by the Michigan State University Museum

Harriet Soong (Native Hawaiian) of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, received the pattern for this quilt from her mother Hattie, (née Kahohina) Kauwe of Kauai. Entitled "Ke Kahi O Ka'iulani" (The Comb of Ka'iulani), it incoporates symbols of Hawaiian royalty, including crowns, leis, and the combs (or kahi) worn in the hair of Princess Kaiulani (1875-99). Kaiulani was the daughter of Oahu Governor Archibald Cleghorn and Princess Miriam Likelike and was niece to the last two reigning monarchs of Hawaii-King Kalahaua and Queen Lili'uokalani.

A member of the Ka Hui Kapa Apana O Waimea quilting group on the Big Island, Soong is considered by many to be a master of the old-style traditional Hawaiian quilting. In this quilt, she uses many of the traditional quilting designs (piko) derived from those used on tapa cloth: parallel lines, diagonal lines, diamond squares, leaves, papa pelena (soda cracker), maka muena (lauhua mat), i'e kuku (carved wooden mallets used to create water marks on tapa), maka upena (eye of the net), pupu (shell), and kua honu (back of the turtle). The stars represent the eight main islands of Hawaii.

From To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions

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