Hawaiian society under the ‘Aikapu system was stratified according to rank. An individual’s rank was not determined by wealth or gender, but by genealogy. Those of the highest rank could trace their genealogy all the way back to the beginning of time, to the very first organism to inhabit the Earth, even to the primordial darkness preceding all life. These genealogies were recorded in chants called ko‘ihonua that glorified Ali‘i bloodlines, ancestors, and their descendants. One important symbol of rank for the highest Ali‘i was the Lei Niho Palaoa, a whale tooth pendant. The carved hook pendant is strung on thousands of finely braided strands of human hair. Its exact symbolism is unknown, though one belief is that it represents a vessel for mana (inherited virtue or power).
This pendant was worn by Hawaii's Queen Ka'ahumanu; the ancestral hair that was used to braid it holds the memories of past Warehouses and only the Keeper can release them. This artifacts is a record containing vital parts of the Warehouse's history and it protects some of the Warehouse's most closely guarded secrets.
In "All the Time in the World", Abigail Cho, Keeper of Warehouse 13, used this artifact to discover why Warehouse 9 had bronzed Paracelsus, the reason being he was Caretaker of Warehouse 9 but had 'fallen' from his post.
Contrary to the episode, SyFy's Artifact Guide describes the artifact as a "Hawaiian Kuala" (no such object exists) that was first used by Queen Lili'uokalani - it is possible that this simply means that the lei niho palaoa, created from Ka'ahumanu's hair, was inherited and first used as an artifact by the future queen (rather than Ka'ahumanu's immediate successors) Lili'uokalani.
- It is likely that the artifact can only be used by (and as such, the Keeper must be) someone of Hawaiian descent, as both known users of the Lei Niho Palaoa are Hawaiian (Lili'uokalani was a Native Hawaiian queen, and Abigail Cho, like her actress Kelly Hu, is of Chinese and Native Hawaiian descent).