Inspiration from the royal grounds of Hawaii

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I’m currently vacationing on the big island of Hawaii and have had a lot of fun exploring the local flora and fauna. Yesterday, however, I had fun of a different sort by exploring Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau—the royal grounds. This area rests on the black lava flats of the southern Kona coast and shows some of the aspects of traditional Hawaiian life.

I’m particularly interested in threshold guardians and totems, and have collected quite a few photos of them in my travels. This is my first time in Polynesia, so was excited to see these totems (called Ki’i) up close:

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Here are some more of the Ki’i. These ones are situated just outside or within the rebuilt temple. The temple itself once held the bones of the noble chiefs (the ali’i).

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These are smaller wood carvings I found in one of the thatched structures where you could also see some traditional fishing gear.

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This is a traditional Hawaiian game called Kōnane, set up near the shore.

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You can see lava beds throughout the site. These fascinating formations have really inspired me for some of my world-building activities. I’ve been taking many detailed pictures of rock patterns and lava shapes.

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Below you can see the great wall, with the palm trees growing up around it. This wall is ten feet high and up to seventeen feet thick. It was built in 1550 to separate the royal compound from the common folk. The rocks are packed so tightly that no mortar was required.

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Here’s another, better, view of the wall, stretching towards the sea.

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This is the Keōya Stone. Mark Twain, on a visit to Hawaii, said this is where the high chief of Kona would sit. I was actually quite fascinated by the rope, made of natural grasses.

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Beyond the great wall, the lava bed stretches out into the crashing waves. The sounds and sights were breathtaking. My wife took this photo as I stood out at the edge, taunting the water to catch me.

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We have more adventures planned in the coming days . . . which, of course, means more inspirations.

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