Legends Of The National Parks: Hawaii Volcanoes' Mo'o Water Guardian By Derek Anderson, Joel Anderson, 2022


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Indigenous Hawaiians believed Mo'o Water Guardians were protectors of the islands. These beautiful, huge lizard spirits took the shape of massive geckos and kept watch over the plants and animals of Hawaii. The stories surrounding these creatures are many. Some even depict them as cunning, dragon-like beasts who would go to war with Indigenous Hawaiians and even battle with Pele, the volcano goddess. Some eyewitness accounts of the Mo'o Water Guardians describe them as shapeshifters, able to take the form of geckos, dragons, humans, or even bodies of water. It is believed that when a Mo'o dies, its petrified body becomes part of the landscape, which is why many Indigenous Hawaiians believe certain stone-like structures scattered across the islands are the petrified remains of sacred Mo'o Water Guardians. Some stories say the rocky topography of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a few Mo'o laid to rest within the landscape, forever protecting the park. Anderson Design Group poster artists hand-rendered a vintage-styled poster of what we think this Hawaiian creature might have looked like. This classic monster design and vintage poster art is available as a poster print, canvas, metal sign, mini-canvas, or as a notecard or postcard. To learn more about the history and stories of the Mo'o Water Guardians, check out the research paper titled Na Mo'o o Ko'olau: The Water Guardians of Ko'olau.

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