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Kamehameha II's cloak may have been among the millions of artifacts ruined in Brazil fire

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HONOLULU -

A cloak of King Kamehameha the second is among millions of artifacts feared to have been destroyed in a museum fire in Brazil. 

Flames tore through Brazil's 200 year old National Museum in Rio De Janerio Sunday night. 

Drone footage above Brazil's National Museum shows the aftermath of a massive fire that gutted the 200-year-old building. Some parts of the roof collapsed. Ash and rubble are replaced where historical relics once stood.

Museum officials believe at least 90-percent of artifacts are gone. 

Some fear that may include the the cloak of King Kamehameha II, also known as King Liholiho.

The 'Ahu 'Ula or cloak along with a lei po'o were said to be gifts to Brazil's emperor Dom Pedro I from King Kamehameha II, given during his stop in Rio De Janerio on his voyage to England in 1824, according to the website.

Now, there's a possibility it may be  lost forever.

"In terms of native Hawaiian things that have traveled to other parts of the world. The loss of something like an 'ahu 'ula is definitely  a heartbreak," Kapalikuokalani Maile, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum cultural educator said. 

Maile says each 'ahu'ula are made of native Hawaiian feathers from thousands of birds and represents potentially hundred of hours of work by a single person or individuals.

"Also the larger cultural significance of that something that represents the mana of a chief that represents something that cannot be equated in financial terms. That is something that is really priceless," Maile said. 

Priceless, unique and irreplaceable. 

"The loss of one is the loss of a larger body of knowledge. A larger connection to part of that past but hopefully since we don't know exactly what has happened and what condition of the cloak or other items might be, perhaps there are parts of it that are still salvageable and we can still learn from it... connect to it," Maile said. 

Maile says Bishop Museum likely has the largest collection of Royal Hawaiian Featherwork.

With the tragedy in Brazil, president and CEO of Bishop Museum said in a statement:

"We have mandatory fire safety and emergency preparedness training for all staff and regularly test our fire suppression sprinkler systems, alarms, and hydrants. In addition, the museum has regular walkthroughs with our local fire station, and continually reviews all procedures and systems to find opportunities for improvement."

"We want to voice our solidarity with that place... it's hard, it's a hard thing," Maile said. 

'Ahu 'Ula or cloaks are found in museums around the world, including as mentioned Bishop Museum, who says the Brazil tragedy is reminder of the responsibility each museum bears, caring for all its collections and priceless artifacts. 
 

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