||This engraving after a drawing by John Webber comes from the official account of Cook's third voyage, 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean', published by Scatcherd and Whitaker in 1784.
Captain James Cook (1728-1779) made three separate voyages to the Pacific (with the ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery) and did more than any other voyager to explore the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Cook not only encountered Pacific cultures for the first time, but also assembled the first large-scale collections of Pacific objects to be brought back to Europe. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779.
John Webber was the artist on Cook’s third voyage from 1776-1780.
The Resolution and the Discovery visited for the second time the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, Kauai, Niihau between 17 January-14 March 1779.
Cook was greeted by a ‘Chief named Terryaboo’ (Kalani’opu’u), the King of Hawaii, who came out to the ships in several canoes. Later, when the ships entered Kealakekua Bay on the west side of Hawaii, Cook reckoned that about 1000 canoes surrounded the two ships, King estimated 800, many of them filled with up to 10 or 12 Hawaiians. Nowhere before had the reception of Cook’s ships been so impressive as here.
After Cook’s reception by the priests at the heiau of Waipunaula it had become evident that some god-like status was attributed to him. Kalani’opu’u’s meeting of the ships on 26 January 1779 was intended as homage to Cook. Two large images made of basket work and feathers as well as a magnificent feather cloak in the two front boats give proof of the sacral character of his mission. Very soon Cook was given to understand that he should follow the King to the shore, where a festive ceremony took place. Kalani’opu’u took his cloak from his shoulders and put it around Captain Cook’s. In King’s words, he also ‘put a feathered cap upon his head, & a very handsome fly flap in his hand: besides which he laid down at the Captains feet 5 or 6 Cloaks more, all very beautiful, & to them of the greatest value.’
This scene not only demonstrated the profuse adoration of the Hawaiians, it also served to ratify a friendship between the parties.
The shoreline here runs from Palemano Point in the foreground to Kealakekua in the back below the mountain massif. The middle distance is populated with coconut groves and houses which probably belong to the villages of Kalama and Waipunaula, while in the background the Pali cliffs descend down to the village of Kaawaloa on the most westerly point of the bay. Two wash and water-colour drawings in the British Library represent parts of the bay with greater detail.
Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4187, PAI4189-PAI4214.; Page 232.; Plate No. 61.