Royal Hawaiian cloak feared destroyed in Brazil museum fire

HONOLULU — A royal Hawaiian cloak given to the emperor of Brazil is among the objects feared destroyed in the massive blaze at Brazil’s National Museum.

Kamehameha II, also known as King Liholiho, gave Brazil’s Dom Pedro the feather cloak during a stop in Rio de Janeiro in 1824 while traveling to London.

A Sunday night fire ravaged the museum, which housed the largest collections of national history artifacts in Latin America. As much as 90 percent of the museum’s artifacts are feared lost, museum officials said.

“It looks like these items have now been lost to antiquity,” Hardy Spoehr, a board member of the Hawaiian Historical Society, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Spoehr said he has contacted a researcher in Rio to see if any of the Hawaiian items were saved.

“It’s very doubtful,” Spoehr said. “I think it’s really important because Kamehameha II was the first one of any monarch of Hawaii to leave the kingdom. He started to introduce the world to the fact that Hawaii was an independent nation with an active monarchy. He saw his first throne when he went to the palace in Rio.”

The museum was once the residence of Brazil’s royal family.

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