Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry manufacturer Philip Rickard says he has translated the symbolic text on Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Liliu’okalani’s, original “Ho’omanao Mau” bracelet. This bracelet is said to be the first Hawaiian bracelet, manufactured in Hawaii by a European goldsmith and engraver living on the islands.
During the research of his 1993 book, Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry, A Lasting Remembrance, clues and records led to the discovery of the original bracelet in Honolulu. It had descended from the buyer of the bracelet at auction after the Queen had died in 1917. Rickard was able to contact the owner.
In addition to the bracelet’s enameled phrase “Ho’omanao Mau,” there were a series of symbols which at first, seemed to simply be symbols of rank and authority, independent of each other and without further meaning.
“I didn’t think much about this at the time of writing the book, however it always nagged at me exactly what the symbols meant,” said Rickard, who owns seven retail stores in the Hawaiian Islands.
After years of research and investigation, he discovered that the symbols weren’t merely signifying rank and authority, but were a series of Masonic, French Royalty, Heraldic, and Hawaiian symbols which actually carried a message.
“I separated each of the symbols, and tracked down their meanings from dictionary’s, online and various books,” Rickard explains. “After methodically breaking down the meanings of the symbols and placing those core meanings into a sentence, it immediately became clear that arrangement meant something. I was confronted with what can only be interpreted as a prayer.”
The prayer, according to Rickard, reads: “Always remember that guidance from above protects me, and those I protect by my good judgment, and love of perfection, light, and life, for I am Royalty.”
Knowing much of Lili’uokalani’s nature and her personal conflict from his research, Rickard says he believes these findings confirm that she wore her dedication to her people on her arm everyday. That the Queen, who was forced to give up her throne in 1898 when Hawaii was annexed to the U.S., was a woman who struggled with maintaining her Hawaiian culture and tradition while embracing the Western influences that were infiltrating her land.
“Her legacy to her people—and to those her life has touched—continues to be one of courage, compassion and, most of all aloha,” Rickard says.
Listed below are the interpretations of each of the individual symbol’s meanings and Rickard’s translation of the Queen’s prayer: