Yesterday I received an e-mail from my friend Janis. She was looking through her Hawaiian quilt books and found two designs that appear to be related to the design in my quilt. The first was a red and yellow quilt that appeared as a black and white image in "Hawaiian Quilts" by Stella M. Jones (pg. 29), a 1930s catalogue that was re-released in the 1990s. The other was a blue and cream quilt in "Hawaiian Quilt Masterpieces" by Robert Shaw (pg. 81).
|my quilt, c. 1920, formerly owned by the Wilson Family of Kailua|
My conservative estimated circa date is 1920, but it could be a bit earlier. I'm sure it was made before 1930. It has the look, feel and construction of an earlier work. It is all hand appliqued and hand quilted, and it has that familiar age patina.
Both related designs found by Janis have significant similarities and differences compared with my quilt. The first, Ka Ua Kani Lehua (or Rain that Rustles Lehua Blossoms) was made for a member of the Brickwood Family before 1900. The red and yellow quilt is 78" x 84" and is part of the collection of the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.
The second, in Shaw's book, is blue applique on a cream background. It is 78" x 84", made in the 1940s or 50s, and in the book it was designated as part of a private collection. This quilt is remarkably similar to the red and yellow quilt, even though Hawaiians were not known to share their designs with other quiltmakers, as Janis pointed out to me.
There was another one on The Quilt Index, under several names including Ka Ua Ua Kani Lehua, but there was no date given with the quilt.
Lehua is one of the Hawaiian Islands. The crescent shaped Island is a barren tuff cone, part of the extinct Niʻihau volcano, and is due west of Kauai.
Lehua is also a plant, Metrosideros Polymorpha, also known as ʻōhiʻa lehua. It is a species of flowering evergreen tree in the myrtle family, unique to the six largest islands of Hawaii.
Well, that was an interesting surf. Thanks, Janis! I'll look forward to discovering more.