Object photography

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Object description

  • Hawaiian artist
  • Ku, early 19th century
  • Breadfruit wood
  • Hawai'i
  • H: 78 1/2 in, W: 28 in, D: 20 in (H: 199.4 cm, W: 71.1 cm, D: 50.8 cm)
  • Gift of John T. Prince, 1846
  • E12071


East India Marine Society Collection


This masterful sculpture of the Hawaiian god Ku was created for a heiau (temple) of the great warrior chief Kamehameha I, who unified the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1800s. Among his many attributes, the god Ku embodies family, strength, prosperity and warfare. He would have been honored with chants, offerings and processions, and he continues to inspire deep respect from Pacific visitors, who sometimes show their reverence by conducting protocols of greeting. Only two other large images of Ku have survived.

Exhibition History

  • Upcoming Exhibition, Peabody Essex Museum; 2015 through Present