Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs
The ancient Hawaiians documented experiences and special occasions with carvings into rocks. This page contains ancient Hawaiian rock carvings found on the island of Lanai near Shipwreck Beach.

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Since it is hard to see the detail of the carving on the rock on the left over the internet we have outlined the petroglyphs on the right to reveal an apparent hunting scene with 13 men (women did not hunt), a dog, a horse, and the object of the hunt which we are guessing is a cow or exaggerated pig.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

There are many petroglyphs showing men, women, and children in a variety of poses and doing a variety of actions like surfing, hunting, and fishing. Some of the bodies are drawn with a thick triangular torso and others are very slender sticks. Carvings showing a closed triangular body usually represent a man. A penis is often drawn on the petroglyphs depicting a man. A woman petroglyph is usually drawn with an triangular body with the point near the legs NOT connecting. The open triangular body represents the womb. Breasts are also often drawn on petroglyphs depicting a woman.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

The below petroglyph shows a hunting scene with a man, dog, and Axis deer. Dogs were brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the first Polynesians. Eight Axis deer were brought to Lanai from India in the mid 1800's. Today there are over 8,000 Axis deer on Lanai that are descendents of the original eight. Axis deer are still hunted on Lanai today.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

 In the photo below it is hard to see an arch over the petro man. This is called a "Rainbow Man" petroglyph. The rainbow arch over the head is believed to signify he is an honored and respected man, most likely a warrior.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

The wild Axis deer population has grown from 8 to 8,000 since they were introduced in the mid 1800's. The deer are overgrazing and causing ecological problems like erosion. Hunting by permit is encouraged on Lanai to help control the deer population.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

The below photo to the right depicts a dog and a chicken. The first settlers in Hawaii brought chickens and dogs with them from the Marquesas Islands between 0-500 A.D.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

When early Polynesians arrived to the Hawaiian Islands Lanai was still a smoldering volcano. The Polynesians believed the island was inhabited by demons and did not inhabit Lanai until the 1500’s. Before the 1500’s banishment to Lanai was used as an alternative to death for harsh crimes.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai
Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

Petroglyphs are typically found in clusters and there are several collections of petroglyphs found throughout the Hawaiian Islands. The most common petroglyphs are of men, women, children, fishing, surfing, dogs, chickens, deer, a gourd dancer, double hulled canoe, runner, turtle, lizards, line marchers, travelers, and hunters.

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

If you are planning a visit to Lanai and would like to check out the petroglyphs in person these are located near Shipwreck Beach at the end of HI 440 (Keomuku Road). When the paved road ends take the north branch sand road all the way to the end. Look out for soft sand spots. There are picnic tables at the end of the road and places to park cars. Look for the remains of the lighthouse at Po'aiwa, it's a concrete slab with a white X on it. From the old lighthouse foundation follow the trail south for about 200 paces. There is white paint on the rocks marking the trail. You will come across a large rock painted in white paint requesting visitors to not desecrate the petroglyphs. As you pass the rock and descend down the slope look at the large boulder on the right. It is covered with petroglyphs as are many of the rocks in this area. Please do not desecrate the petroglyph artifacts by scraping at them or carving your name in the rocks!

Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai Ancient Hawaiian Petroglyphs on the island of Lanai

Click here to view photos of more petroglyphs on the island of Lanai in the Palawai Basin

If you are having a Hawaiian theme wedding or luau in our Island Gift Shop we offer decorations like this adorable Hawaiian Kissing Couple Cake Top/S&P Shakers as well as lifelike silk plumeria blooms, silk plumeria circle of flowers, and real Tiger shark tooth necklaces to bring authentic touches of Hawaii to your celebration!

Our Island Gift Shop is what funds our web sites filled with free Hawaii information, free Hawaiian theme wedding and luau resources, free Hawaii vacation resources, and a free Hawaii Photo Gallery. When you purchase from our Island Gift Shop you are supporting our web sites!

Having a party?
Make it a Hawaiian theme party!

LUAUS ARE FUN FOR: Holiday Parties, Prom, Graduation, Birthday, Wedding, Anniversary, Promotion, Retirement, Baby & Wedding Showers, Family Reunions, Corporate Recognition Programs, Company Picnic, Convention, Class Reunions, New Years Eve Parties

Click here for FREE Luau Resources including first name translations into Hawaiian, decorating suggestions, Hawaii theme games, & popular luau recipes to easily create a Hawaiian Luau anywhere!


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