Saturday, November 17, 2012


Piko stone, Pu'uloa petroglyphs, Volcanoes National
Park, Hawaii. Photograph Ellen Belef, March, 2007.

On January 26, 2011, I posted a column about a piko stone at the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones site, at Wahiawa, on the island of Oahu. This particular Piko stone is located in the Pu’uloa petroglyph field, in Volcanoes National Park, on the island of Hawai’I, on the lower slopes of Kiluaea volcano, and is another of the photographs given to me by Ellen Belef. 

In 1914 anthropologist Martha Beckwith recorded the following information in her field notes from informants about this location.

“Rode out to Puuloa on the line between Kealakomo and Apuki. Here is a large pahoehoe mound used as a depository for the umbilical cord at the birth of a child. A hole is made in the hard crust, the cord is put in and a stone is placed over it. In the morning the cord has disappeared; there is no trace of it. This insures long life for the child. Mrs. Kama, born in 1862, was a native of Kamoamoa. Her mother brought her cord there. She had 15 children and for each one at birth a visit was made to Puuloa. Another mound, on the southern border of Apuki, called Puumanawalea, was similarly used.”(Lee and Stasack 2000:87)

It should be stated that Beckwith cited other informants who essentially stated the opposite, that the cord had to stay in the hole overnight to insure long life and happiness for the child.

“Pu’uloa means long life, and that is why they chose Pu’uloa to deposit the piko of their children. “You make a puka (hole) by pounding with a stone, then in the puka you put the piko, then shove a stone in the place where the piko is placed. The reason for putting in that stone is to save the piko from the rats.” (Lee and Stasack 2000:87)

It is not that often that we can read direct, first person testimony about the reason for producing a rock art feature as in this case.


Lee, George, and Edward Stasack,
2000    Spirit of Place: Petroglyphs of Hawaii, Easter Island Foundation, Los Osos, CA.

No comments:

Post a Comment