Everywhere on Mauna Kea, from the mountain
top to the sea, shrines and altars can be found, where food, songs
and chants are offered to the deities. About forty shrines have
been located within the Mauna Kea adze quarry complex.
Historic accounts indicate that Hawaiians had rituals
for most technical enterprises, such as planting, canoe building
and fishing. It would not be surprising, therefore, to discover
evidence of ritual activities related to stoneworking.
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We located forty small structures that we have interpreted as shrines
on the basis of their similarities to religious structures common
throughout eastern Polynesia. Although they vary in size and shape,
their placement seems constant — they are usually located
on top of rock outcrops overlooking major workshop areas.
All these structures contain rows of upright rock slabs, in some
cases enclosing or partly enclosing a small, flat area. In at least
one instance, a chunk of coral had been placed beneath one of the
uprights; a lock of human hair was found at the base of another.
Hammerstones, waste flakes, rejected adze blanks and preforms frequently
lie in and around the structures, indicating that some stoneworking
took place at the shrines. This may be evidence of ritual behavior
intended to predict or influence the flaking qualities of basalt
extracted from various parts of the quarry.
Patrick McCoy/Richard Gould
In the immediate vicinity of the work shops and quarries we discovered
shrines consisting of single upright stones, and lines of upright
stones planted in a low platform. Dr. T. A. Jaggar, in 1919, photographed
on the west slope of Mauna Loa, an alignment of upright stones,
which he called Umi's altar, near the head of the Alika lava flow,
at 7,000 feet elevation.
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Such structures have much in common with the prehistoric altars,
or shrines, of lonely Necker Island, about 300 miles NW of Kaua'i,
and belong to the earliest type of sacred structure in the Tahitian
region of Polynesia from which we are quite sure the Hawaiians came.
The adz makers, clinging to the ancient form of shrine at which
to approach their patron gods, have preserved a most important link
with their ancestral home. Each upright stone at a shrine probably
stood for a separate god. The Hawaiian dictionary describes ‘eho
as "a collection of stone gods" and this is the term which
the Tuamotuans, the neighbors of the Tahitians, used to designate
the alignment of upright stones on the low and narrow platform at
their maraes, or sacred places.
The Adze Makers of Mauna
by Kenneth P. Emory
Paradise of the Pacific
April 1938, v50 n4
Shrines are simple arrangements of unworked, tabular basalt slabs
oriented in upright position, but varying greatly in number. Adze
preforms, hammerstones, and waste flakes are frequently present
on one side of the upright alignments.
The Mauna Kea Adze Quarry
A Summary of the 1975 Field Investigations
Bernice P. Bishop Museum