Kauai’s Queen Victoria’s Profile had long been a subject of fascination for Kauai- born Honolulu insurance executive Paul Yamanaka (1929-96).
“I’ve heard rumors of this great stone for years,” he said in 1981. “Last year I found out that the profile and its finger is associated with the goddess Hina and the finger is the guardian stone for the headquarters of the king of Kauai.”
He also often insisted that the finger was actually a gigantic sculpture hand-carved by Hawaiians in the distant past and then carried and set into place.
To prove his point, he and American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, along with Honolulu newspaper columnist Bob Krauss and two Japanese stone-cutters, set out on March 12, 1981, to determine if the finger was actually an ancient Hawaiian work of art.
Before starting out, Noguchi, who Yamanaka had persuaded to climb up to view the stone at close range and give his opinion of it as sculpture, said “I would be surprised if the stone was carved. Many naturally formed rocks have a tremendously moving quality. Primitive people might attribute values of a sacred nature to such rocks simply because they are there. Queen Victoria’s Profile and the finger could be sacred because the Hawaiians felt it was exceptional.”
When the climbers arrived at Kipu Ranch, owner Patricia Rice gave them permission to proceed through her lands and hike up a road through the pass in the Haupu Range that separates Kipu from Kipu Kai.
At the mountain’s crest, they then turned westward and began crossing a partially overgrown ridge trail leading to Queen Victoria’s Profile.
After plodding ahead for nearly an hour, they finally reached the stone finger, where Noguchi proclaimed “It’s not hand-carved. It is a very big basaltic rock (volcanic rock sometimes in the form of a column) about 40 feet high. The formation is very similar to the profile rock behind it.”
Then Yamanaka added, “I originally thought it had been dragged here. But after climbing up, I’ve changed my opinion, yet I still think it’s a guardian stone.”
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.