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Honolulu's Bishop Museum exhibit explains ancient art of hala weaving

The hala leaf can be made into hats, sails and even iPad covers. A Honolulu museum explains the art

A woven hat and an iPad cover, an eyeglass case and a sail for a vessel, all from the same natural source? Yes. An upcoming exhibit at the Bishop Museum will introduce visitors to hala and the ancient craft of weaving the leaf — the source of the above items — and talk about the threat to its future.

“Nani I Ka Hala: Weaving Hawaii,” which opens March 28 at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, will take visitors on an interactive journey through the craft that has helped sustain Pacific Islanders for centuries. Guests can try their hand at the ancient art.

The exhibit will include historic and contemporary examples of the functional uses of the woven leaves of the hala, also known as screwpine. Traditional mats and baskets will be displayed alongside eyeglass cases and iPad covers. Near the entrance will hang a 16-foot-tall sail that once helped propel canoes through the ocean waters of Micronesia.

Woven hats from a private collection will be displayed. A virtual millinery shop will allow people to “try on” a variety of styles.

Through video displays, master weavers will explain their craft and also explain that scale, an invasive insect, is attacking hala trees throughout Hawaii.

The exhibit continues through July 27.

Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays. Admission is $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 4-12.

Info: Bishop Museum

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