What’s in a Dress?: An Archaeological Collection of Kapa Cloth from Nineteenth-Century Nu‘alolo Kai, Kaua‘i Island, Hawai‘i
Author(s): Summer Moore
Anthropological discussions of gender and sexuality in colonial-era Polynesia have often focused on the introduction of Western clothing styles and the relationship between changing modes of dress and the negotiation of new social identities. Because clothing is highly perishable, however, there have been few opportunities to address this topic through the archaeological record. My paper presents an analysis of an exceptionally well-preserved collection of archaeological cloth from Nu‘alolo Kai, Kaua‘i Island, Hawai‘i. This collection contains fragments of imported fabric and Hawaiian barkcloth or kapa from a site occupied until approximately 1850. Kapa and foreign cloth were found together in the site’s uppermost layers. One remarkable piece of painted kapa was sewn into a sleeve, possibly as part of a missionary-style dress. This paper suggests that the introduction of new styles of dress in Hawai‘i was more complex than is often understood. While Hawaiians at early nineteenth-century Nu‘alolo Kai may have incorporated Western clothing into their daily routines, they also continued to make and use kapa. In fact, kapa manufacture, particularly the incorporation of foreign elements, may have served as one way for kapa makers to negotiate local systems of meaning in an environment of rapid social and cultural change.
Cite this Record
What’s in a Dress?: An Archaeological Collection of Kapa Cloth from Nineteenth-Century Nu‘alolo Kai, Kaua‘i Island, Hawai‘i. Summer Moore. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431401)
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min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;
Abstract Id(s): 16877