Hawaiian Petroglyphs, Ki’i Pohaku

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Ancient Stone Carved Images

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs, or ki’i pohaku, are lava rock images or drawings carved into pahoehoe,flat lava rock surfaces centuries ago by the Kanaka Maoli, native indigenous people to Hawai’i. Some petroglyphs date back to the 16th century. Many of the petroglyphs are located at old lava fields with broad flat surfaces and is believed that ki’i pohaku sites hold spiritual significance to the ancient Hawaiians.

Although there are many theories of the origins and the exact meanings of Hawaiian petroglyphs may not be certain these images do tell stories of ancient Hawaiian lifestyle. The ki’i pohaku are forms of record keeping, historical facts, daily life tasks, and family lineage.

The Kanaka Maoli carved many types of images to tell their stories. Commonly seen carvings throughout the many captivating petroglyph fields are of human forms describing ali’i (chiefs), maka’ainana (commoners), kane (males), wahine (females), keiki (children). Petroglyphs also showcased Hawaiian warriors, soldiers, voyagers, hunters, farmers, surfers, and people with pahu (Hawaiian drums), ipu, and ipu heke (percussion gourds) alike. Carvings of canoes, waves, sea turtles, others animals, circles, and other diagram shapes were used as well.

Ki’i Pohaku, Hawaiian Petroglyphs can be found on all of the Hawaiian Islands although most concentrated and abundant on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Hawai’i Island has 70 documented sites featuring over 22,000 petroglyph images. Two large popular field sites on Hawai’i are the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and the Puako Petroglyph Preserve just north of Kailua-Kona.

Kapu Aloha Strictly Enforced…

petroglyph sign

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