These figures, almost certainly representing turtles (haggan), are found in a cave in Luta called Chugai.
Getting to Chugai is not an easy thing to do. You need to drive on a rocky, single-vehicle trail through dense brush, with tångantångan brushing against your car, until you get to the end of the trail where you park.
You will then see that you have come to the top of a cliff, some 500 feet above the beautiful sea.
Then, it's a ten-minute walk on sharp, coral terrain until you get to the mouth of the cave.
And at the mouth of the cave, you are greeted with a padlocked gate!
Gated entrance to the cave
I am glad that the gate is padlocked. Vandals have no chance of defacing artwork done by our ancestors. However, you can call the Rota Historic Preservation Office and they will guide you into the cave and make sure you don't do any harm to it or yourself.
Once inside, you will discover that the cave is very deep. Before long, the sunlight will become useless as you become surrounded by darkness.
It is only with a portable light source that you can see what's inside. According to one source, there are 90 different drawings. The drawings were made with a black substance; charcoal or ash are suspected as being the material used to draw these images. Dating cannot be done unless one tampers with the images, so we don't know for sure how old they are.
The turtles seem instantly recognizable, but most of the others are not so easy to identify. This, for example, could be a bat (probably fanihi but I wouldn't rule out the payesyes).
Other figures seem to be birds and fishes. But others do not seem to represent either human or animal. Many are simple, geometric shapes. Could some of these images represent spiritual or religious ideas? Could the makåhna (spirit intermediaries) have been the ones behind these images?
Here are a few others. People will be debating what they represent for years to come :
Whoever drew these images must have brought in many torches and lamps.
The Chamorros were not the only ones who left things behind. So did the Japanese.
Towards the entrance of the cave, where there is more natural light, one can find many broken Japanese bottles, sake cups, glasses, jars.
One can also observe a lot of broken pieces of wood strewn about.
I was told that the Japanese used the cave as a "hospital" during the war.
While I won't discount this, I wonder if this "hospital" were simply a kind of medical station. The place (dusty and humid) may not have been the healthiest environment for wounded people risking infection.
Luta never had the full-on battles of Saipan, Tinian and Guam. There would not have been huge numbers of wounded. But the Americans did strafe Luta now and then, as well as bomb it. There were various people - soldier and civilian, Japanese and Chamorro - who were killed and wounded.
I think some Japanese (the cave is too small for large numbers) used the cave for shelter against the American strafing and to care in remedial ways for some of the wounded.
The US waited for the war to end (September 1945) before landing troops on Luta to round up the surrendering Japanese. For over a year, the nearly 3000 Japanese troops on Luta hid in caves just like Chugai.
And now, it's video time....
Para mås infotmasion :