An Irreplaceable Artefact

This is another piece by Frank Cottrell-Boyce on the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford:

In the corner was a glass case with a curtain. I pulled the curtain aside and found a vast red and yellow cloak, an ‘ahu ‘ula made in the 1830s for Queen Kekauluoki of Lahina in Hawaii,of hundreds of thousands of tiny red and yellow honeysucker feathers. These were supplied by specialists who plucked a few from each bird before letting it go. Each feather is tied into place. The priceless finished ‘aju ‘ula was one of the last to be made. The species of honeysucker from which the feathers were taken is now extinct.

This sounds incredible, and really sad, but the cloak reminds us of lost skills, of lost animals, and the beauty and value of handicrafts.

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