1898 Rosina Kalanikauwekiulani Ayers's "Hawaiian Coat-of-Arms" Quilt

This neatly made example of a “Hawaiian Flag” quilt was presented to Rosina Kalanikauwekiulani Ayers on the occasion of her marriage to Dr. Robert Henry Dinegar in 1898. “Hawaiian Flag” quilts generally are not used, but rather are valued as a treasured heirloom and displayed as such or given to esteemed friends or family on significant occasions.
Although the Hawaiian flag first appeared in the early part of the nineteenth century, only later did the flag motif become characteristic of a distinct type of Hawaiian quilt. The design became popular after 1893 when the American settlers replaced the monarchy and Queen Lili‘uokalani abdicated the throne. Quilters incorporated the Hawaiian flag and coat-of-arms motifs on their quilts to honor their heritage and show loyalty to the Hawaiian nation and monarchy.
The four pieced Hawaiian flags on this quilt are arranged around appliquéd and embroidered details from the royal crown and coat-of-arms, including the two guardians of King Kamehameha I (1756-1819), the first king of Hawaii. “HAWAII PONOI / UA MAU KE EA O KA‘AINA IKA PONO” (THE LIFE OF THE LAND IS PERPETUATED BY RIGHTEOUSNESS) is appliquéd in the center. It is a motto that appears on the state seal and is attributed to King Kamehameha III (1813-1854). Quilting, typical of Hawaiian Flag quilts, consists of chevrons, diagonal lines, and grid on the flag sections, with echo quilting in the center.
Rosina Georgetta Kalanikauwekiulani Ayers (family name Manaku) was born January 12, 1877, in Lahaina, Maui. She was a descendent of King Kamehameha I, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810. In 1898, Rosina married Robert Henry Dinegar (1870-1930) and they had two children. Robert Dinegar received his medical degree from New York University Medical College in 1892 and a few years later moved to the Hawaiian Islands as a government and plantation physician. Among other accomplishments, he is credited with reducing the death rate at plantations from a hundred a year to ten. In 1909 he moved his family to Albany, New York, where he continued to practice medicine. Robert died, age 59, in 1939 and Rosina died in May 1966. Her daughter, Adelaide McDonough, graciously donated her mother’s Hawaiian coat-of-arms quilt in 1978. Her note with the donation stated that her mother “. . . was always proud of her lineage & I know would be happy that these artifacts [her quilt] are in the Smithsonian Institution.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, cotton, silk (overall material)
filling, wool (overall material)
overall: 93 in x 91 in; 236 cm x 230 cm
place made
United States: Hawaii
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Government, Politics, and Reform
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Adelaide D. McDonough
Bowman, Doris M.. The Smithsonian Treasury of American Quilts
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