A Photo & 5 · Cultural History · Historic people · Historical Places

A Photo & 5: The Moai of Easter Island


1.The Moai were carved between the years 1250 and 1500 by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island who believed them to be the physical embodiment of deified ancestors (chieftains). The Rapa Nui National Park and the Moai are included in the 1994 list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

2.The bigger the statue, the more Manu (spiritual power) resided within the statue. According to some ancient Polynesian religions, objects such as the Moai could be “filled” with this magical spiritual power if created properly and certain rituals were performed.

3.They statues actually have bodies, although they are commonly thought to be just heads. This is because of the disproportionate size of the head to the body, and also because many of the photographs of the Moai are of those that were buried from the neck down (and thus still standing when photography was invented).

4.They were positioned to face inland as if to watch over the people, with the exception of the 7 “Ahu Akivi” that face toward the sea watch for visitors to the island.

5.They were all toppled (except for those buried in the Rano Raraku hillside, like the one pictured above) sometime between 1722 and 1868, due to warring clans attempting to destroy rivals’ statues, and natural causes such as earthquakes. About 50 have now been re-erected or moved to museums.

Bonus!: According to BBC News, in 2008, a Finnish tourist chipped a piece off the ear of one Moai. The tourist was fined $17,000 in damages and was banned from the island for three years. Oops.

photo credit:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Moai_Rano_raraku.jpg



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