LEI DESCRIPTION: This is a 4-strand 63" pikake style lenalena (yellow) momi shell lei. The shells in this lei are matched in the medium lenalena shell coloration. The darker the coloration within each shell type, the rarer and more valuable the shells become. The shell pairs on each strand are graduated from slightly smaller at the top to larger at the base. "Momi" stands for pearl in Hawaiian and refers to the shiny reflective nature of the outside of the shells, which reflect light like a pearl. The highest quality and most reflective of the shells are found on the beaches of Ni'hihau. One of the main reasons the best quality shells are found on Ni'ihau is the fact that there is very little fresh water intrusion (rivers, streams...) that feed into the ocean around Ni'ihau, or even that much rain. The coating on the shells that give them their luster is susceptible to fresh water, which is why it is important to never clean a Ni'ihau lei with fresh water. The luster of the shells show that they are authentic shells from the private island of Ni'ihau. At least 80% of the shells have to come from the island to be considered a true Ni'ihau shell lei. In this case 100% of the shells come from Ni'ihau. The lei contains around 3,472 shells but in reality would have take many more shells to make, depending on the number of shells that broke in the process of preparing them for stringing. Each shell has to be cleaned of sand and punctured by hand.
LEI CONDITION: This is a stunning example of a Ni'ihau pikake style 4-strand lei. The graduation of the shells is expertly done. There is a gradual graduation of the shell pairs from the smallest at the top to largest at the base of each strand. The luster of the shells is of a very high grade. The shell pairs are expertly matched and tightly woven on all four strands. There are some lenalena with more markings than the others, but overall there is a good matching of the lenalena shells in this lei. The shells in this lei were properly prepared, with the sand being removed from the side of the shells before stringing. The momi shells in this lei are in the medium to larger size range for the shell type. 63" is a nice long length for the lei and can be doubled over when worn. This lei is traditionally and correctly strung: one direction for the first half, and the opposite direction for the second half of each strand. You string the shells this way so that they will always be facing the same direction on both sides when worn, traditionally with the large part of the shell facing up. This lei was finished with a granulated cowrie (white cowrie with little bumps or ridges over the top) that has been used as a traditional closure for the lei for a very long time. This lei was finished with a single cowrie shell because the strands are long enough to go directly over the head, and is properly done for a lei of this length. The granulated cowrie are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Overall this is a great example of a Ni'ihau pikake style lei.
Size: 63" long.
Price: $18,000.00 USD