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How Chiefs Became KingsDivine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai'i$
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Patrick Vinton Kirch

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520267251

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520267251.001.0001

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From Chiefdom to Archaic State: Hawai̒i in Comparative and Historical Context

From Chiefdom to Archaic State: Hawai̒i in Comparative and Historical Context

(p.1) Chapter 1 From Chiefdom to Archaic State: Hawai̒i in Comparative and Historical Context
How Chiefs Became Kings

Patrick Vinton Kirch

University of California Press

The thesis of this book is that Hawai'i consisted of three to four competing archaic states, each headed by a divine king. Hawai'i offers a “model system” for how differences in rank originally dictated by kinship gave way to a durable inequality legitimated in new cosmogonic and religious ideologies, how control over the means of production passed from the domestic to political economies, and, ultimately, how chiefs became kings. This chapter uses a comparative ethnographic and linguistic approach to situate Hawai'i within its broader Polynesian context. The controlled linguistic analysis reveals that Hawai'i does not conform to the patterns typical of other Polynesian chiefdoms, that it had been transformed into something qualitatively different by the time of contact with the West. An overview of the chapters included in the book is provided.

Keywords:   archaic states, Hawai'i, divine king, Polynesian chiefdoms, West, kinship

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