Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Walking in the Land of the Ki'i Pohaku

Between this property and the next property lies a small stretch of land bearing the gentle scar of a lava flow that has survived, intact and untouched, for more than 900 years. This ancient swath of volcanic basalt remains miraculously unspoiled by the many eruptions that have since followed over the next few hundred centuries.

The responsibility for the caring for this sacred space has been passed down from generation to generation to the very indigenous ancestors born of it. It is they who call this land "Ki'i Pohaku" or the "land of Stone Carvings" -- referring of course to the abundance of images which we call petroglyphs that have been carved, stone upon stone, into the land.

Without any formal written language or organized alphabet the Hawaiians passed down their history either orally or through the interpretation of these anthropomorphic symbols engraved neatly on a canvas of flat stone. The pliable, smooth surface of the pahoehoe lava flow makes this area of the Big Island the ideal repository for the images of these ancient artist-storytellers.

I discovered one such image on my morning walk today. The headdress on this figure is uncommon and usually indicates it was incised to represent a god or a chief. The elders trusted with the stewardship of this land are quick to point out that these petroglyphs are not random drawings but carefully placed images that tell a story from beginning to end.

I have to admit, as a lover of languages and the written word -- it's a pretty awesome moment to discover a 900 year old book on your morning walk.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

It must have been left for you to discover.

Autumn said...

That is so awesome; it's like talking to the past. It reminds me of when I was 15, a sulking teenager. My dad and I took a driving trip across the country, somewhere in southern Utah we stopped on an old dirt road and walked a half a mile on a poorly marked path to stare at some ruins across a ravine. I defied the fences and found a cave with the most wonder petroglyphs. My dad wrote in his journal that day "Today Autumn finally came alive"

poefusion said...

What a wonderful find on your morning walk. The petroglyph featured in the picture is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice night.

Crayons said...

Aloha TR

That image! I relate deeply to the hand that traced those lines. There's great intentionality in them. Your pre-dawn walks inspire me, even as I am faced with grey snowbanks and temperatures (tomorrow) in the single digits.

I agree with Nina, it was for you. Lucky thing that your feet led you to it.

Lana Gramlich said...

That's way cool. :)

Shamelle said...

Came across your blog for the first time. Interesting find.


Mary said...

Aloha! I'm glad you noticed something rich in history during your walk. Good eye!

Anonymous said...

So cool.

Anonymous said...

What a marvel to come across, like you have stumbled back in time. I would have been beside myself with elation. Your descriptions are remarkable. I feel like I am there with you. Wow!

~Red Tin Heart~ said...

That is so wonderful that you discovered this while walking. Doesn't it stir up your imagination?
As I was reading your posts I could see these ancient people creating these images.
xoxo Niat

Anonymous said...

that is marvelous!
i wish i had something so ancient and numinous as that nearby


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