Like the other major Marquesan headdress type, the uhikana, the coronet or paekaha is a study in tonal and tactile contrasts. Apparently not as widely worn as the uhikana, the paekaha was associated with high-ranking men and women. It was not owned by an individual, but instead was worn by various family members on different occasions and was passed down through generations as an heirloom. Reports conflict as to how the coronet was worn. Some maintain that it was worn with the band at the top and the shell plaques covering the forehead, which results in the relief figures on the turtle-shell plaques appearing upside down. Others have suggested, however, that the coronet was originally worn with the plaques above the band. Either way, the paekaha drew attention to the head, considered by Polynesians to be the most sacred part of the body.
Turtle shell, conch shell, fiber
W. 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, Evan F. Lilly Memorial, 69.123