Hawaiian Archaic States on the Eve of European Contact

Patrick Vinton Kirch

in How Chiefs Became Kings

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267251
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947849 | DOI:
Hawaiian Archaic States on the Eve of European Contact

Show Summary Details


This chapter reviews the contours of the Hawaiian archaic states which were functioning at the time of first contact with the West, and then investigates the major categories held to be criterial for archaic states, and the hypothesis that the contact-era Hawaiian polities are properly conceived of as states, rather than as chiefdoms. Contact-era Hawai'i was a true class society, a trait that puts it squarely in the realm of early archaic states, as opposed to chiefdoms. The Hawaiian economic system had elements of both “staple” and “wealth” finance to it. Furthermore, the chapter explores the functions of the kahuna pule and their principal cults, both in legitimating the divine kingship, and in serving the political and economic interests of the king and the ali'i class. Hawaiian social organization exhibits a key axis of the transformation from chiefdom to archaic state.

Keywords: Hawaiian archaic states; West; Hawaiian polities; chiefdoms; Hawaiian economic system; kahuna pule; divine kingship; Hawaiian social organization

Chapter.  19029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.