Friday, March 27, 2009

The first text messages


Throughout the Big Island—virtually everywhere you can find the smooth kind of lava rock (called pahoehoe)—you will find drawings and symbols etched into the stone. Some of these petroglyphs (called ki’i pohaku in Hawaii) were mysteries to the voyaging Tahitians when they arrrived many centuries ago, while others are more clearly placed in time, as they depict the arrival of Western sailing ships or firearms.

Other drawings represent the birth of children, the passage of a journey, or men and women paddling, surfing, fishing, or carrying a spear. Several petroglyph fields are located on the periphery of resorts and golf courses or identified in parklands, but others are unmarked and in the wild. The practice pretty much died out after Europeans arrived.