Object 2: Hawaiian Lei
May 26, 2021
The second object is a Hawaiian Lei made from the Maile plant. The Leis were worn by ancient Polynesians and some Asian people as part of their custom. Native Hawaiians used them to signify their ranks and royalty. As part of the Hawaiian custom, the tradition of Lei is a symbol of hospitality, love, respect, and aloha. It is often given to visitors upon their arrival to Hawaii.
To a Native Hawaiian Leis carry the knowledge of tradition and symbols of love and hospitality. For someone who knows the importance and meaning behind lei, they would approach it differently. For example, if a visitor who knew about Hawaiian culture was gifted a lei, they would know that it is a symbol of hospitality and express their gratitude. While if it was a visitor who had no prior knowledge about the lei, they would still be thankful yet not be able to appreciate it to the fullest as they don’t know the meaning it presents. The prior contextual understanding one has about an object deeply affects the way they approach it and whether they accept or reject it along with the knowledge it carries.
This object also enriches the exhibition because when visitors purchase a lei or receive one as a gift, they view it as just an accessory and are likely to not question it as knowledge. This means that they won’t be able to accept or reject it as they don’t have an opinion on it. In
order to accept knowledge, you have to first acknowledge that it is knowledge. However, if tourists approach the lei as knowledge with meaning and purpose behind it, they are more likely to form an opinion on it based on prior contextual knowledge or personal beliefs.