This is a Fishhook.
Fishing was the most complex method of obtaining food in Hawai`i, where food was traditionally an important element in the interaction between people, the gods, and the environment. Fishing, agriculture, animal husbandry, and harvesting and the preparation and eating of food were all carried out under the auspices of the gods and were therefore surrounded by kapu (taboos). Huge fishponds were constructed along the oceanfront to prevent overfishing during spawning season and so there would be fish for the chiefs during seasons when fishing was kapu. The catching of fish is significant: in many parts of Polynesia it was the demigod Maui who fished up the islands from the sea with his magic fishhook. In the absence of pottery in most of Polynesia, fishhooks in their myriad shapes, sizes, and changing styles have served to construct the major archaeological chronologies. This one-piece whale-ivory hook was exhibited at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle.
It is credited
Collected by Dr. Nathaniel B. Emerson, exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, Washington, in 1909, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, E257801.
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Its dimensions are
H x W x D (excluding twine): 1 x 6.4 x 10.8 cm (3/8 x 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.