Made with the techniques of early Hawaiians
By Boris Huang
Hawaiian feather master craftsman Boris Huang worked diligently for four years to create this beautiful feather cape in the style of early Hawaiian Monarchs. Boris selected and individually tied over 35,000 dyed goose feathers to create this cape. It took Boris four years to complete this master work.
The colors represent the traditional colors of the Hawaiian monarchy and the native Hawaiian birds that were used to make feather capes and lei in early Hawaii. While this feather cape was made entirely of dyed goose feathers, the colors also have deeper meaning. Boris learned the ancient art of feather weaving from renowned masters Mary Lou Kekuewa and Paulette Kahalepuna. This cape could not have been made without the knowledge and skill passed down to Boris from these great masters.
Before he started making the cape, Boris wanted to honor his mentors, so he asked Aunty Mary Lou and Aunty Paulette to choose a feather color. Mary Lou chose red. Paulette chose green. Boris used red feathers at the top and bottom of the cape in memory of Aunty Mary Lou, who passed away before the cape was completed. Boris intentionally used red thread throughout the entire cape as a symbol of the pervasive influence of his legendary mentor.
The first recorded observations of Hawaiian feather work were made in the voyages of Capt. James Cook in 1778. For more than two centuries the feather work of early Hawaii has been admired and respected worldwide. The intricate design is created by weaving and tying individual feathers into onto a base of woven fiber. The feather cape reflects the meticulous planning that is required before the feather work is begun.
In early Hawaii, only the Alii and Monarchs owned feather adornments including lei, capes and kahili. As later generations of Hawaiian monarchs began travelling abroad, they sometimes brought feather items as gifts to their counterparts in England. The feather hatband we see today is part of Hawaiian culture (late 1800s), but it’s not considered as “old traditional” work like cape, lei or Kahili.
About Boris Huang
Boris has received many awards and participated in a number of public events such as Hawaii Craftsmen Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition 2009~2016, Japanese Chamber of Commerce “Commitment to Excellence Art Exhibition 2012&2016, Fiber Hawaii, 2010~16 Juried Exhibition, Hawaii Pacific University Ohana Gallery Juried Exhibition 2007~2009, First Mixed Media Festival 2009, Textile Society of American Biennial Symposium 2008, and as demonstrator in the TV program, Scenic Hawaii, on HD channel 1000; Oahu story, feather lei.
Many well-known personalities proudly own Mr. Huang’s lei hulu, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung Sun Suu Kyi; actor, Jim Nabors; former Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie; former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann; Hawaii Theatre manager Burton White; performer and kumu hula Robert Cazimero, Aloha DeLire, Tony Conjugacion; and many more.
Boris has deep gratitude for the opportunity to share with you his skills in this ancient Hawaiian tradition of lei hulu… He does so with the utmost love and respect for his kumu, this land and it’s traditions and culture.