Hawaiian Islands, ´Awa Strainer (?)

Hawaiian Islands

´Awa Strainer (?), late 18th – early 19th century shaped and decorated (stained) gourd Purchase, 1932 (3577) 

Oral history tradition maintains that the kind of patterning on this object came from the island of Ni´ihau. The shape is an unusual one among extant/surviving Hawaiian decorated gourds. Made from a solid section of a large gourd that was cut down at both ends, the shape is open on top and bottom with an open pass-through in the neck or waist. A possible use could have been as a strainer for making the fermented drink ´awa, made from the mashed roots of the kava plant. The practice of making and drinking ´awa declined dramatically in the early 19th century with the availability of Western alcohol.