How to Make a Hawaiian Kahili

By Samantha Lowe ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • 1-foot-long 1/2-inch circumference round dowel
  • Sandpaper
  • Woodstain (optional)
  • Small to medium sized feathers, in chosen colors
  • Floral tape
Kahili historically were the symbols of Hawai'ian royalty.

Kahili are the symbol of royalty, with swaying feathers indicating high stature in the Hawaiian culture. Carried by the mo'i wahine, or queen, and the mo'i, or king, the traditional symbols of the upper class are made from feathers grouped together to look like flowers and then tied to create a large standard. These beautiful symbols of the history and traditions of Hawaii can be created at home with time, effort and a few tools.

Sand the ends of the dowel to make them rounded and give them a finished look. Stain the dowel and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's directions if you desire a different color of wood.

Tape the bottom of six feathers together to form a half fan. Repeat this with as many feathers as you desire to cover the dowel.

Attach the half fanned feathers to the top of the dowel using the floral tape. Bend them and prop them with pieces of the tape so they point out perpendicular to the dowel.

Use several fans side by side to cover the entire circumference of the dowel. Work your way around and down the wood to cover three quarters of the dowel.

Insert any more half-moon groups of feathers in to the covered dowel in any areas that are not fully covered by feathers.

Fluff up the feathers using your hands. Attach more feathers if need be using the tape.


Any color of feather can be used, as well as any size, from long to short. Mixing colors and lengths can also create a desired texture.

About the Author

Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.