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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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Hawaiian Archaic States on the Eve of European Contact

Hawaiian Archaic States on the Eve of European Contact

(p.29) Chapter 2 Hawaiian Archaic States on the Eve of European Contact
How Chiefs Became Kings

Patrick Vinton Kirch

University of California Press

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

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