“Centuries ago, when the rest of the world went to battle in iron clothing, the great seven-foot warriors of Hawaii donned gay war capes, fashioned of thousands of colorful feathers. … The principal colors used were red and yellow. The more yellow, the higher the rank of the wearer.”
Generous Hawaiian chiefs often gave ‘ahuʻula as token of their friendship. During the British warship Calypso’s three-and-a-half-month stay in Hawai‘i beginning on Oct. 2, 1858, its surgeon, WH Sloggett, was presented with a royal feather shoulder cape by King Kamehameha IV in gratitude for medical service he’d rendered the seriously ill King. He hung it at his home in England.