Of The Past
by Veronica S.
can be found at various points along the coast.
There is an unusual activity available for the more
adventurous tourist on the Big Island, it's called petroglyph
hunting. On such a hunt, bring water, good shoes, and
sunscreen. Leave all ideas behind about wanting to reproduce,
alter, or "improve" the petroglyph. Leave
all pre-set thoughts about Hawaiian history behind.
The stones will talk, allowing the mystified visitor
to listen. I've done it. (In all honesty, I didn't find
one single petroglyph, but even so, the experience was
worth it. I found Hawaiian and universal wisdom by listening
to the ancient stones.
Petroglyphs date as far back as the first settlers
on the Hawaiian Islands, in the 4th century AD. They
were the earliest written forms of communication with
the gods, the spirits, and with fellow travelers and
The figures were most frequently carved on the smooth
pahoehoe lava. Other stone sources were large boulders
and the walls of lava tubes.
No one knows for sure what all the different symbols
and figures mean. No one knows for sure the exact date
of each petroglyph, or why there are so many on the
One thing we do know: They are never randomly located.
Isolated petroglyphs might mark a burial site, or an
important trail junction. Groups of petroglyphs often
accentuate a powerful place on the land. T he Hawaiians
believed that mana , the cosmic force, was concentrated
and available in specific locations, which became places
of prayer and respect.
In chronological order, three subsequent shapes depicted
the human figure. At first there was the stick form,
basic, and sexually explicit. Later, the form became
columnar, with a wider torso. The most recent form was
of triangular shape. Often, however, petroglyphs were
altered by newer artists. Additions were made, and lines
Apart from these human figures there are the animals,
representing the aumakuas or guardian spirits. Some
pictures offer the variety of tools, ornaments, and
objects, available to the Hawaiian, such as fish hooks,
paddles, capes, helmets, and sandals. The konane board
game is found along the entire Kona coast.
And there are those incomprehensible symbols that,
because of their frequency, must have had a meaning,
but that is entirely lost to us today.
Petroglyphs will keep their secrets into eternity.
Unless, of course, we teach the stones to speak.
The best locations to easily view these ancient oracles
Anaeho'omalu Bay (access via the Royal Waikoloan and
Puako (access via the Mauna Lani and Ritz Carlton resorts)
Many tourist guide books describe detailed routes to
other petroglyph sites along the Hawaiian shores.
may submit editorial comments to any of our stories
by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would be happy to attach your comments and feedback
to anything we publish online. Thank you for your interest."
appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and
appears online for archival purposes only. Any use or
reprinting of these stories without the expressed written
consent of the author is prohibited.