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R S Cobblestone
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Although I've seen a few petroglyphs up Moanalua Valley on O'ahu, and I've looked for them (unsuccessfully) along the Laniakea shoreline, nothing really prepared me for visiting the Puakõ Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve on the Big Island.
Amazing. Incredible. Inspiring. And depressing... a culture devastated by contact with the West (Before the Horror: The Population of Hawaii on the Eve of Western Contact.
Hawaiian Petroglyphs does not contain many photographs. In fact, I was surprised after Puakõ at how my photographs really didn't capture the majesty of what I was seeing. But in this book, many hundreds of petroglyphs are sketched out, making them more distinct than a photograph could.
In addition to the many petroglyphs highlighted, the authors (J. H. Cox and E. Stasack) discuss the stories, as far as can be told, behind the petroglyphs. Except for a limited number of written records (e.g., Hawaiian Antiquities by David Malo), the meanings behind most of the petroglyphs will remain speculative. Even the process of creating these petroglyphs must be hypothesized, since specific tools were not left at these sites.
There are a couple of mysteries that I am interested in. First is the paucity of whales depicted in any petroglyphs, although there is mention of "a well-drawn whale" at Olowalu, Maui (p. 19). For such a huge animal, I would have expected more petroglyphs dedicated to this animal. However, an important and common 'aumakua was the shark, and it is also absent.
Second (and by no means are these the only two mysteries), the authors note "Petroglyphs made after the 1800's could very well have been made with iron tools. ...Stone was the common material for cutting, hammering, and rubbing" (p. 38). However, "It is puzzling that with thousands of petroglyphs at many sites on all Hawaiian Islands so few appropriate implements are found for making them" (p. 38). My amateur hypothesis? There are records of iron being washed up on the islands, presumably originally attached to wood from ships lost at sea (Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands). What if these few bits of iron, recognized as something extraordinary, were used by specialists to make these petroglyphs? A nail, for example, easily could be attached to a cord, and kept with the carver. The precious nature of this tool would insure that it would not be left at any petroglyph carving site. Then, when iron nails became freely available, in addition to the savage depopulation of the Hawaiian people, the lore and tradition of these early carvers was also lost.
Well, that's my hypothesis, anyway!
Back to the book. Love the petroglyphs of the honu (p. 19, 63, 64), the surfer (p. 63), the figure with the headcrest (p. 18, 98), the paddle-men (p. 65, 79), and the figure of the man throwing a net (?) on page 30 (left center box).
I'm always reading multiple books at the same time. As it turns out, I came across this quote today in a science-fiction novel by Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space):
"Sylveste steepled his fingers. 'It's my suspicion - no; not a suspicion, my conclusion - that the Amarantin eventually progressed to the point where they could achieve space travel.'
'From what I gathered on the surface,' Sajaki said, 'there's very little in the fossil record to substantiate that.'
'But there wouldn't be, would there? Technological artefacts [sic] are inherently less durable than more primitive items. Pottery endures. Microcircuits crumble to dust.'" (p. 375).
Thank goodness for the durability of Hawaiian petroglyphs...