Motifs Used In Hawaiian Jewelry

Hawaii is a widely known tourist location that leaves everyone who lands on her shores dumbfounded by the exquisite display of nature in all its glory. Whether it is the frothing volcanoes, the large blue ocean, the scrumptious tropical fruits, vibrant flowers or limitless beaches – Hawaii is like nature's museum. natural wonder on display after another and each more magnificent than its predecessor.

Using Nature As Inspiration

It is not very any wonder that nature has found its way in to various forms of creative expression on the islands including hawaiian shell jewelry. From the earliest inhabitants in the 4th and 5th century, Hawaiian jewelry has been a canvas for nature. The earliest baubles were made of shells, seeds, coral, teeth, whale ivory, bone and bark and featured patterns of various sea creatures. Sea turtles and fish were popular motifs. Another surprising motif that found popularity was that of the canoe. The motifs reflected the isolation of the island life and the high value associated with the canoe. In addition, royalty wore a hook formed necklace called the lei niho palao made from whale teeth and human hair.

With time, the popularity of motifs depicting nature in all her glory continued to grow. In the 20th century the famous Hawaiian jewelers Ming's and Gump's both sold jewelry depicting island flowers such as hibiscus, orchids, pikake, bird's of paradise and anthuriums.