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Abstract

This article represents my own experience with the petroglyphs, becoming aware of them, observing them, and thinking about them. I had worked as a translator of written Japanese before coming to Hawai'i for the first time in 1989, and had seen the early pictographic forms of the Sino-Japanese characters (Vaccari & Vaccari 1950). From my observations of the petroglyphs, primarily as photographic reproductions in texts, and from Gelb's definition of writing, human communication by conventional marks (1963:12), I assumed that the petroglyphs represented the first stage of a pictographic system that would have developed as it had on Easter Island. I had seen an ethnographic film of the 'Kung San in which an elder had read rock art for John Marshall- it was a story of a hunt with pictographs of the animal and handprints to show how to advance on it. As a result I expected the Hawaiian petroglyphs to exist as art and writing at the same time.

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