Crafts, Chiefs, and Commoners: Production and Control in Precontact Hawai'i



Information on the manufacture of such items as feather garments, cordage, and canoes shows that the commonly made distinction between independent and attached specialists was not clear cut among Hawaiian craftspersons. How and to what extent craft specialization was controlled varied according to the nature of the good being produced and its importance to the chiefly elite. However, all Hawaiian craftspersons were motivated to be craft specialists by the belief that their occupations were divinely ascribed. Hawaiian chiefs were considered semi-divine and played a major role in the practice and sponsorship of Hawaiian religion, and they used the goods produced for elite use to further consolidate their power.