Kipona style Ni’ihau shell lei necklace with dotted momi and kahelelani shells in red, reddish brown and sand colors with puka shell end caps and cowrie clasp 20.5” 1214-C325 $325
We’ve all found these tiny shells at the beach in ones and twos, searching for others and watching the sun move across the sky as we happily collect a tiny number.
These are gathered by Ni’ihau residents from the shores of the island of Ni’ihau, taking whatever time it takes to find, clean, pierce and sew these beautiful lei.
You can see this lovely Ni’ihau shell lei necklace up close and in motion at this YouTube link.
These are treasures, worn for a lifetime and eventually, long in the future, passed down as heirlooms. We hope you or the person you gift this to wear it in excellent health and enjoy it for many years to come.
Hawaiian History of Ni’ihau (Wikipedia)
Prior to the unification of the Kingdom of Hawaii under Kamehameha I, Niʻihau was ruled by the aliʻi. Kahelelani was the first of the Niʻihau aliʻi. His name is now used to refer to the Niʻihau kahelelani, the shell of the wart turbans (Leptothyra verruca), used to make exquisite Niʻihau shell jewelry. Kāʻeokūlani was a ruler of northern Niʻihau who unified the island after defeating his rival, a chief named Kawaihoa. A stone wall (Pāpōhaku) across a quarter of the island’s southern end marked the boundaries of the two chiefs: Kāʻeo‘s land was identified by black stones and Kawaihoa’s by white stones. Eventually, a great battle took place, known as Pali Kamakaui. Kāʻeo’s two brothers from the island of Maui, Kaiana and his half-brother Kahekili II, the King of Maui, fought for Kāʻeo, and Niʻihau was united under his rule. Kawaihoa was banished to the south end of the island and Kāʻeo moved to the middle of the island to govern. Kāʻeo married the Queen Kamakahelei, and a future king of Niʻihau and Kauaʻi named Kaumualiʻi was born in 1790.
Kamehameha managed to unify all of the islands by 1795, except for Kauaʻi and Niʻihau: attempts to conquer those islands had failed, and Kamehameha lost many men…Finally, in 1810, Kamehameha amassed a great fleet, and Kaumualiʻi, the last independent aliʻi, surrendered rather than risk further bloodshed. Independence again became feasible after Kamehameha’s death in 1819…Thereafter Niʻihau remained part of the unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.