Poneglyphs are massive block shaped steles made of an indestructible type of stone. They have text written in an ancient language carved on them. There are a total of three types of Poneglyphs scattered across the world; Historical, Instructional and Road Poneglyphs:
- “Historical Poneglyphs” reveal pieces of ancient history as well as messages written by ancient people.
- “Instructional Poneglyphs” contain instructions and/or clues about the locations of Historical Poneglyphs.
- “Road Poneglyphs” (ロード歴史の本文（ポーネグリフ）Rōdo Pōnegurifu, literally meaning “Road Text of History“)detail a location. The combined locations detailed by all four Road Poneglyphs, allows one to locate Raftel.
Both Historical and Instructional Poneglyphs are dark blue in color, while the Road Poneglyphs are deep red in color.
According to Tamago, there are thirty Poneglyphs in the world. The blocks are impervious to damage, even from explosions.
Each Historical Poneglyph tells a piece of history long forgotten. This history includes mentions of three weapons of mass destruction: Pluton, Poseidon and Uranus. In the eyes of the World Government, they are dangerous artifacts; however, despite the World Government declaring the Poneglyphs dangerous because of the weapons, the reality is that the ideals of the fallen Kingdom written on some of the stones are far more dangerous than any of the weapons. The Road Poneglyphs are sought by several organizations interested in the treasure located on Raftel: two of the Yonko, Charlotte Linlin and Kaido, have each claimed possession of a Road Poneglyph.
Keep thy motives in heart, with closed mouth. We are those who will weave history with the ringing of the great belfry. ”
— Words inscribed on the Shandora ruins
The stones are left in the care of the descendants of ancient civilizations, as seen in both Alabasta and Shandora. The Shandorian Poneglyph was a fiercely guarded treasure of the Shandia people, and they felt a deep visceral connection to it – particularly the bell built around it– that was passed down to the present era, where the descendants of those who fought and died to protect it still put their lives on the line to reclaim it, along with their homeland, even though they had forgotten about the existence of the Poneglyph itself. They still cherish what it represents a great deal, and the shaman of their people openly wept upon hearing they had fulfilled the wishes of their ancestors by passing its information on to Nico Robin, thus relieving them of their centuries-long duty.
Unlike its Shandorian counterpart that was guarded by its people to protect the information it contained, it is clear that the hidden nature of the Alabasta Poneglyph was to conceal its existence from the people and not protect it, as Alabasta is an affiliate of the World Government, united against the creators of the Poneglyph. This is inferred by Robin in her conversation with the King of Alabasta, Nefeltari Cobra, when she scoffs at and rebukes his statement about a hereditary charge of the monarchy to “protect” the stone, though he was truthfully unaware of the deeper reasons or motives of its concealment decided long before his time.
Gol D. Roger managed to follow the passage of the Poneglyphs because he could hear “the voice of all things“, and thus uncovered the truth of the Void Century with his crew; however, Silvers Rayleigh notes that they may have interpreted what they learned incorrectly because they did not possess the intellect of Clover or the other scholars of Ohara.
The Kozuki Family passed down the knowledge of how to read Poneglyphs including the skill to write its ancient language within their family up to Kozuki Oden‘s generation. Also a member of Roger’s crew, Oden journeyed to Raftel with him and, like Roger, could decipher the Rio Poneglyph. Oden was killed by Kaido and the Shogun of Wano Country after he refused to tell Kaido a secret he knew (presumably either the location of Raftel, One Piece, knowledge of what was written on the Rio Poneglyph, or how to read Poneglyphs), preventing Oden from passing on the literacy of the Poneglyphs to his son, Kozuki Momonosuke, and leaving Robin as the only known individual who can decipher the ancient text.
Due to its ties with the Kozuki Family, the Mokomo Dukedom is somewhat knowledgeable about Poneglyphs despite being unable to read them, as they are aware of the existence of the Road Poneglyphs and Nekomamushi reveals that it is possible to print a Poneglyph’s text onto paper in a similar manner to woodblock printing, simultaneously proving that it is possible to copy the text written on a Poneglyph and record it on a rubbing of a different material that lacks a Poneglyph’s indestructibility.
The Rio Poneglyph (真の歴史の本文（リオ・ポーネグリフ） Rio Pōnegurifu, literally meaning “True Text of History”) is, according to Robin, the message carried by all the Poneglyphs along the Grand Line. It is rumored to contains the true history of the world (including the “Void Century” of which research is forbidden). In order to find it, one must take all other passages from the other Poneglyphs with them on their travels. Gol D. Roger seemed to have accomplished this task, according to Rayleigh. According to Tamago, the Rio Poneglyph is in fact composed of only nine Poneglyphs.
The Tomb of the Kings within
Nico Robin initially believed that this Poneglyph held vital information to understanding the Void Century; however, upon finding it, she noted that it was different than the other Poneglyphs she had found, reading more like an apology letter than a historical text. The message was written by a man from the surface known as “Joy Boy“. In the message, he apologizes to the people of Fishman Island for breaking his part of a promise, which involved returning to Fishman Island to carry out Noah‘s purpose.
Ancient text identical to that of the Poneglyphs is inscribed on a wall within a set of ruins in Upper Yard; upon reading it, Robin discovers that it relays cryptic instructions regarding the Golden Belfry. However, Robin did not refer to the wall as a poneglyph, so it is unknown if it is considered one.
This Road Poneglyph is currently considered lost.
This poneglyph was found by locals who showed it to Jinbe after Wadatsumi threw some underwater ruins onto dry land. As Jinbe and Wadatsumi left, they took the poneglyph with them. This poneglyph was later delivered to Charlotte Linlin, which she had placed in her Room of Offerings after the Sanji Retrieval Team invaded Totto Land. A copy of it is currently in the Straw Hat Pirates’ possession.
Big Mom has acquired a poneglyph through unknown means, and it has been placed under heavy guard alongside her two other poneglyphs in her Room of Treasure following the Sanji Retrieval Team’s invasion of Totto Land. A copy of it is currently in the Straw Hat Pirates’ possession.
The stones were written to preserve the events of the Void Century. After the Void Century ended, the stones were left in the guardianship of the descendants of ancient civilizations, who guarded them from people seeking to destroy or claim them. The World Government, in an attempt to cover up the events of the Void Century, made researching and deciphering Poneglyphs a crime punishable by death. However, this did not stop others from gaining possession of Poneglyph knowledge, transferring the cryptic language on the Poneglyphs to paper in hopes of finding someone who can read it, or keeping the stones themselves in their own possession in order to gain superiority over those looking for them.
Roger also had a member of the Kozuki Family, the inventors of the poneglyph, within his crew: the Wano Country daimyo Kozuki Oden, who also witnessed the secrets held in Raftel.
At some point in time, Roger encountered Big Mom’s Road Poneglyph and was able to interpret the characters in order to reach Raftel
- Poneglyphs seemed to be heavily based on the real life Egyptian hieroglyphs, as they both have “-glyph” at the end of them and they both have ancient text written on them.
- The first time Poneglyphs appear in the series is in Alabasta, which is a giant desert nation, which could be a reference about Egypt, a real life ancient desert nation where the hieroglyphs originate.