Time to discover the mystery of Guam's Gadao’s Cave

by Guampedia, The Guam Website
Stripes Guam

One of the best examples of Chamorro cave art can be found in Inarajan at what is known as Gadao’s Cave. This limestone cave is located above the shoreline, approximately four meters inland. Previous archeological work had been done in the mid-1960s by Fred Reinman, and Gadao’s Cave was included on the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Measuring three meters wide, two meters high and six meters deep, a group of about 50 pictographs are located on the west wall. The drawings range in size from two to three centimeters in height to twenty centimeters. The designs vary from geometric shapes to representational figures depicting human-like or animal-like forms.
The pictographs likely were made using white lime that bonded to the wall with a chemical reaction.  The lines of each drawing appear uniform in thickness, which implies they were made with the same kind of implement, or perhaps a finger.

The most well-known drawings in Gadao’s Cave are located on the east wall, and depict two human figures side by side, one of which appears to be holding something under his arm. It has been suggested that these figures are representative of the legendary Chief Gadao who challenged and outsmarted the northern chief Malaguana in a test of strength. 

This particular pictograph has been used extensively in commercial logos and art because of its significance as a symbol of Chamorro culture and identity. In recent years, Gadao’s cave has been subjected to vandalism, where this particular drawing was scratched superficially by a diagonal line.

- Source: Guampedia.com

Gadao’s three feats of strength

Long ago, there was a man, with great strength and fearless, who was called Gadao. He was the Chief of Inarajan.

One day, Gadao and his friends all went fishing in Umatac. They caught plenty of fish and as they were heading back toward shore, they saw a huge shark heading directly towards them.

Gadao, being strong and fearless, picked up his spear and threw it with such thrust that the spear went through the shark, killing it instantly.

Having heard about his great feat, the Chiefs throughout the entire island decided that Gadao be the High Chief of Guam. Although not all the chiefs agreed to this.

The Chiefs all gathered and decided that in order for him to be High Chief, he would have to accomplish three other major feats.

The first would be to swim the entire island 25 times without stopping. The second would be to crack a coconut into pieces with his bare hands. Lastly, to level the tallest mountain on Guam.

(This part of Legend was contributed by Fino’ Chamorro Column prepared by the Department of Education’s Chamorro Studies and Special Projects Division. The following completion of the legend was contributed by Dr. Lawrence Cunningham from the book “Ancient Chamorro Society” 1992 page 114.)

In the middle of the rainy season he began. Gadao easily swam around the island 25 times in one hour. He rested one day and then grabbed a big coconut tree. He shook the tree so hard that coconuts flew for miles around. He shook it so hard that it broke up into ten pieces.

After a few weeks he decided to level the mountain. First he uprooted a big tree. Then he broke off a huge limb. He used this as a digging stick and shovel. He tackled the mountain. After two days he had dug down to a rock about half the size of Mt. Lamlam. He broke up the rock with the huge limb and threw the stones south to Umatac. The mountains around Umatac village were formed in this way.

Finally, he asked his sons to carry one rock to Agana Bay. He wanted them to block the harbor against foreign invasion. The boys were told to be home before daylight. The boys carried the rock to the sea, but only got to the point on the reef between Piti and Asan. When the boys saw the morning star, they though it was dawn. Not wanting to be late, they dropped the rock.

It can still be seen on the reef, where they left it. Today people call it Camel Rock, but in Chamorro it is called Gapang, meaning “unfinished task.” The morning star is called “Dinague Laolao (Fooled by the Twinkling Star).”

- Source: The Guam Website

Find out how to get to Gadao’s Cave at: www.360guam.com/?page_id=4517

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