Hawai | Necklace (Lei Niho Palaoa). Medium; Human hair, ivory and fiber. Early 19th century. The lei niho palaoa, made of braided human hair and the ivory teeth of beached whales, was an important symbol worn by the Hawai'ian nobility to indicate their genealogical descent from the gods. After the conversion of most Hawai'ians to Christianity in the mid-nineteenth century, such necklaces continued to indicate social status but lost much of their previous spiritual symbolism.
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