In 1779, Hawaiian high chief Kalaniopuu gave away one of his most prized garments to British explorer Capt. James Cook: a regal cloak and helmet intricately woven from feathers.
It was a gesture of goodwill after Cook's ship arrived in Kealakekua Bay, about 12 miles south of modern-day Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaii.
When Cook left on his travels to the South Pacific, the cloak and helmet went with him, leaving the island for 237 years.
Earlier in March, the artifacts returned home, or at least to neighboring Oahu, where they are the newest exhibit at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The items went on display March 19.
Over the years, the garments became part of the collection of the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.
The museum's chief executive, Rick Ellis, said that he was "thrilled and honored" to see the artifacts returned to their Hawaii roots and that he expects them to generate plenty of "conversations and insights."
That may be especially true among the island's indigenous residents.
To them, feather work is held in high esteem as it was crafted exclusively for royalty. Curators say such items symbolized a chief's divinity, power and rank. The gold-and-red cloak contains the features of more than 20,000 birds.
The Bishop Museum (1525 Bernice St., Honolulu) is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $22.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 4 to 12.
Info: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, (808) 847-3511