Marie’s Nabeta

Lae nihi (Iniistius pavo)
Japanese name: Nabeta
English name: Peacock wrasse

Original gyotaku, indirect method, printed in soy ink on silk and rice paper


On Maui, the lae nihi are more commonly known by their Japanese name “nabeta”. A wrasse, they live in sandy areas and will dive into the sand to hide when threatened. Their color varies considerably but can usually be identified by a dark patch on their side above the pectoral fin. The lae nihi is honored by being a character in the Hawaiian tale of Halemano.

This nabeta was caught by a neighbor of mine, Marie, off the shore of Maui. I first met Marie when she approached me in my booth at the annual Made In Maui County Festival, asking if I had any gyotaku of one of her favorite fish to catch; the nabeta. I did not, unfortunately. Nabeta are highly prized by fishermen and when they are caught, they are shared among friends and eaten immediately. They are rarely seen in markets or on restaurant menus.

Not long after our meeting, I received a phone call from Marie. She had three nabeta, freshly caught, and asked if I would print them for her. I picked them from her and got to work right away.

Using the indirect printing technique on 100% silk, I was able to make several beautiful gyotaku prints for Marie and have a few more to add to my studio inventory. Mahalo, Marie!

Medium: soy ink on silk, mounted to rice paper backing.


Fisherman: Marie

Debra Lumpkins Studio | Maui, Hawaii