Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Real Deal... Hawaiian Petroglyphs

I am back from vacation... oh, you didn't know I was gone? Yes, our family took some much needed down time and went to Maui for 10 days. It was the first time since starting my jewelry business that I put my Etsy shop, Beadin By the Sea, in vacation mode, and it was absolutely glorious to do nothing but read books, explore the island and best of all, enjoy swimming in the beautiful warm Pacific Ocean.

It didn't take me long, however, to start thinking about my jewelry. While looking at the rental car map of Maui, I noticed a couple words that caught my attention- Olowalu petroglyphs, and I knew I had to go see them. These are drawings done by the ancient Hawaiians by carving into rock. The word comes from the greek words, "petros" for rock, and "glyphein" to carve.

Some of you may have seen my pendants made from precious metal clay that are engraved with an image of a Hawaiian petroglyph. I began making these when my son requested a necklace of the paddler (photo above) that was on a baseball cap we bought in Kauai. I then listed one in my shop and since then I have had requests for custom pendants- mostly the kukini runner (on right), but I've also done the paddler again and the surfer (below).

The largest concentration of petroglyphs can be found on the Big Island and they are estimated to be about 300 years old. The drawings on Maui have been hand carved into the face of Kilea, a volcanic cinder cone in the v-shaped Olowalu Valley.

Sadly, it looks like this ancient site is suffering from neglect and vandalism. A once helpful staircase in now broken and one must circumnavigate the rocks to get a closer look. There are also signs of amateur graffiti mimicking the genuine petroglyphs so one doesn't know which ones are indeed "ancient" - although it's fairly easy to tell. It's definitely not one of the main attractions of the island but we saw several couples make the 1/2 mile trek each way to view them. It is inland and much hotter without the ocean breezes so we found ourselves at Olowalu General store (at the 15 mile marker) afterward for some refreshment. If you go there you must try their Hawaiian shaved ice done the old fashioned way. My husband and son will testify that they are the best they've ever had!

Aloha, and until I have something else to say...
Have a great day!


  1. Welcome back from your trip! How fun that you can find some real life inspiration for your lovely necklaces! I remember seeing information about the petroglyphs when we were in Maui but we didn't go check them out. I'll have to be sure and do that whenever I make it back there!

  2. Oh my gosh, I don't know how I missed this post, but I'm glad you had a great time in Maui! ♥

    happy fall!

  3. Debora:

    Several years ago, my wife and I were in Maui and purchased an Hawaiian Petroglyph Necklace w/ the petroglyph symbolizing "family" carved on metal w/ a long black oiled cord of some kind. I have worn the piece for many years and now the petroglyph is worn so that it is almost smooth and the cord has broken many times.

    While looking to replace the cord, we found your work. Can you do a petroglyph of "family" attached to a long (approx. 2-3" below sternum) cord?



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