Single etching: 1778 Interior of a Heiau, Island of Kauai Hawaii


Figured I would share the below 1785 etching of the 1778 events. Wondering if our forum members see anything interesting in the below image. Make sure you read the text block below the etching. It provides a little bit of info pertaining to the image.

This fine original copper-plate engraved antique print of the inside of a Hawaiian Heiau - temple - on the Island of Kauai (Atooi) Hawaii, visited by Captain Cook in 1778, during his 3rd & last Voyage of Discovery, was engraved by Robert Benard - after John Webber - and was published in the 1785 French edition of Capt. James Cook & Capt. James King publication A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the Command of his Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. To determine The Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; its Distance from Asia; and the Practicability of a Northern Passage to Europe. Performed under the direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, In His Majestys Ships the Resolution and Discovery. In the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780.

Captain Cook arrived at Atooi (Kauai) on 19th January 1778 and stayed until 23rd January 1778. On the 21st January, Cook accompanied by John Webber, proceeded inland from their beach side anchorage to Waimea, on the south coast of Kauai. Their intention was to examine elevated objects visible from the ship. It proved to be a morai, or temple similar to ones they had seen in Tahiti and other South Pacific islands. This structure was nearly 20-feet high and covered in a thin, light-grey cloth, which likely had ceremonial significance. The temple rested on a platform and consisted of thousands of rough-edged lava rock piled in a tight, mortarless fashion. In the center is the spindly-legged oracle tower, where the priest (kahuna) might seek counsel or pray. Carved figures with tapa and leaf offerings are seen outside thatched huts topped with pili, the tall grass that grew throughout the lowlands. In his journal, Cook took particular note of several stone objects he had observed:
  • ...about the middle of the Morai, there were three of these places in line. We were told three chiefs had been buried there, and before them was another that was oblong. This they called Tanga (taboo or kapu in Hawaiian) and gave us clearly to understand that three human sacrifices had been buried there, that is, one at the burial of each chief. Cooks Journals - January 21, 1778