8 June 2009

Rapa Nui

I think the moai on Easter Island have already been photographed to death, but here is my murder attempt anyway. Enjoy:

[Above and below] This is the famous Tongariki site with the 15 enormous moai (pronounced moh-eye). Moai are huge, monolithic, human figures carved from rock. They were carved between 1250 and 1500 A.D. and represent the ancestors of the Polynesian clans who lived on the island centuries ago.

[Below] The statues were carved from volcanic rock at Tongariki, where many of the moai still remain. From there many were moved to sites all around the island (163.6 km2). They are situated around the coast and almost always face inland. The heaviest moai weighs 86 tonnes.

[Below] Sadly many of the maoi are toppled over. This was either due to the actions of rival clans on the island or due to an enormous tsunami in the Tongariki area (the north-east part of the island). Though there has been much money invested to restore many of the moai back to the upright position, many still lie face down in the mud.

[Below] After seeing the moai in so many magazines, photos and TV documentaries some of their magic was lost on me. Fortunately Rapa Nui has so much more to offer. The Orongo area is home to an amazing, lagoon filled, Rano Kau volcanic crater. My host on the island made me close my eyes as he led me to the edge and as I opened them upon his instruction I was completely blown away by the patchwork of bright-blue water mingling with a glowing green plant-life within.

[Below] Also at Orongo can be found the ceremonial village for a birdman cult which was practiced until the 1860's - when it was suppressed by Christian missionaries. Every year a race would be held to collect the first Sooty Tern egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui.

Clans would appoint a contestant who would have to climb down the cliff face, swim arcoss the shark infested waters, climb up the cliff of the islet of Motu Hui, collect the egg, swim back to Rapa Nui and climb back up the cliff of the Rano Kau volcano. Many contestants were killed by sharks or by falling from the cliff, though the clan of the winning contestant would rule the island for a year. Totally worth it!

[Below] The factory at Tongariki. Many finished and upright moai can be found here but there are also many half-finished, still embedded in the rock-face.

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Related Posts

- Rapa Nui = Isla de Pascua = Easter Island
- Easter Island


  1. Oh wow, you travelled all the way to easter island!!! How great! Enjoy!
    (we tavel to Terschelling next weekend, to Oerol festival.. next time??)

  2. You know what's funny Sam... I was just talking about you both just a few minutes ago. I'm in Valparaiso and there is a Dutch girl here where I am staying. She asked me what made me want to go to Rapa Nui. I said I was always curious about the island but I developed a real passion to go after speaking to my Dutch friends from Haarlem, who I met in the Himalayas. :)

    I also asked her if she's ever been to Oerol - it took her a while to know what I was talking about, as apparently I was pronouncing it all wrong. I was wondering when it was going to be. I still have a very strong desire to go! Hopefully when I come I will actually be able to translate those Spanish movies for you. :D

  3. O that would be wonderful Ara!
    However, one of the 10 shows we saw on Oerol this year (we just came back from it) was the show from a theater group from Chile, it was without words...
    Maybe you have to study some French in the mean time; most of the shows we saw were from French groups.
    Greetings to you from André & his kids Jules and Isabel, they came all the way from Scotland to Oerol.
    bye! Sam


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