Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hawaii with Kids: Petroglyphs on the Big Island

For much of its history, until Christian missionaries came and transcribed one, the Hawaiian language didn't have a written component. It did, however, have a separate system of picture writing, and these petroglyphs are one of the topics that we studied in preparation for coming to Hawaii. I'm especially fond of the petroglyphs that we made ourselves:


The ones that we saw for real, however? Those were AMAZING. Here we are hiking out to the Puako Petroglyphs:

It's a flat area with approximately 3,000 petroglyphs, and is considered one of the best petroglyph sites in Hawaii:

Almost every one that we could see was a repetition of this same human figure:

Even eroded as they are by the centuries, they're still so impressive.

I was even more excited about seeing the petroglyph field at Volcanoes National Park, because I knew it would have these:

The pits are where a newborn's umbilical stump would be placed after it fell off. The circles around the pits might represent more babies, since researchers believe that families would come back to the same site over and over again, or it might represent something else entirely.

Either way, how beautiful, right?

This petroglyph field also contains examples of other iconic symbols, such as this turtle symbol that we saw all over Hawaii--

--and interesting examples of other symbols, such as this super tall human figure, surrounded by umbilical cord pits:

In our Hawaii studies, much of what we learned and experienced was designed to help the children connect with the native culture of Hawaii--Captain Cook and the missionaries and Hawaii's statehood are part of its history, yes, but its people are who I want the children to remember and understand. Facts are facts, but these petroglyphs are more. They're something inspirational, something to wonder about, something that, I hope, helps to bring that culture to life for the children.

It does for me!

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