University of Hawaiʻi Press
Softcover, 200 pp.
Curve of the Hook is the long-awaited book on the life and research of Yosihiko Sinoto, senior anthropologist at the Bishop Museum. For nearly six decades, Dr. Sinoto conducted field research on every island group across the Pacific. His work and discoveries fundamentally changed what is known about early Polynesian migration, ancient ocean voyaging and navigation, sacred places, and the everyday life of the Pacific’s indigenous people. Due to Sinoto’s research and his love for the people of the Pacific, we now know through empirical evidence the extent to which Oceania is a single, vast community. Its members share kinship not only with one another, but also with the peoples of Asia and North America.
Among Dr. Sinoto’s extraordinary accomplishments is his 1972 discovery of an ancient canoe-building workshop, buried for a millennium, on Huahine Island. At the same site in 1977, he unearthed the remains of a large Tahitian voyaging canoe; previously, such magnificent Polynesian canoes, capable of sailing vast distances, were known only through legends and chants. The material evidence of Polynesia’s impressive cultural achievements before Western contact―along with Sinoto’s restorations of sacred sites―helped encourage a cultural reawakening on many Eastern Polynesian islands, as well as renewed interest in Hawaiian navigation and voyaging. His study and restoration of marae (religious structures) in Tahiti during the last forty years have focused on cultural and environmental preservation, particularly on Huahine.
Curve of the Hook was originally published in Japanese as Rakuen kokogaku (Archaeology in Paradise), a book-length interview of Sinoto by Hiroshi Aramata. In 1996, the book received the Yoshikawa Eiji Cultural Award and in 1999 was selected as one of the best one hundred biographies of a Japanese in the twentieth century. Translated by Frank Stewart and Madoka Nagado for publication as Curve of the Hook, the original text has been updated and revised, and is beautifully illustrated with photographs from Dr. Sinoto’s own collection.