Easter Island, Chile – WOW

Landing on this lovely spec of Earth - Rapa Nui

You know this place.

  • Easter Island – name by English Speakers
  • Isla de Pascua – name by Spanish Speakers
  • Rapa Nui – name by Polynesian and Locals

Whatever name you may call it – in the end – everybody has the same reaction – WOW. This place is spectacular. You are on a little tiny spec of land in the middle of nowhere, but you feel so connected to this ancient civilization and your curiosity is peaked to know the REAL reasons for the Moai and the mystery of this island will always remain.

TongarikiLocation and Name

Easter island is nearly 4.000 KM west of the mainland Chile and 2.000 KM East of Pitcairn the nearest Polynesian Island. The island has a maximum length of 24 KM and width of 12 KM.

Easter Island was given the name Rapa Nui (Big Island) by Tahitian sailors in the early 1860’s, as it reminded them of an island called Rapa Iti (Small Island) near their home.

Doggies playing near a Moai in Hanga Roa city

The Moai

The Moai were built and risen from the North to the South part of the Island, and on the

Moai with his Top-knot

Ahu’s (Stone platforms) from Left to Right. That is why in the North and on the Left side of the Ahu’s, the statues are more weather warn and more primitive, while the moai on the Right and South part of the island have much greater detail as the carvers improved their skills with practice and are significantly less weather worn.

Moai were figures of deceased chiefs or gods. The moai were often named after these dead heros. The moai face inland to give protection to their people and to have a watcher over them to remind them to be good.

Mounted on an “ahu”, the moai are believed to have transmitted “mana” or power to the living family chief. Sent through the statue’s eyes, mana meant prosperity in peacetime and success in war. The eyes of the moai were only carved out of upon arrival at the ahu. The eyes were placed into the moai upon being stood up. The eyes are said to give the moai their life, their power, their energy.

The Moai’s “top-knots” (we think they are hats but really they are hair tied on knots atop the head) were made from volcanic scoria quarried at the small volcanic crater of Puna Pau, a couple of kilometers east of Hanga Roa

The Making of the Moai

The Moai were carved from the rock located at Rano Raraku between 1250 and 1500.

Rano Raraku - Moai "Birth place" or Quarry

They were carved from the rock, the top and both sides until finally they cut the Moai across the bottom to detach it completely from the Ground. A single Moai took between 6 months to 1 Year to carve.

The Moai all look different since they are carved after people who passed on. Thus, some moai are fatter, some thinner, some with bigger noses and longer ears. Each is distinctive.

Rano Raraku, the “birth place” or quarry, of the Moai, is on one corner of the Island. It took 40 to 60 men per Moai to move it. So how were the Moai moved to their final resting places along the coasts of the island? There are 7 Theories:

  1. They Rolled: The banana trees were cut down and used as rollers. The moai were placed on top and roller to their “Ahu”.
  2. They Jumped: Banana trees were placed aside the moai were hopped along slowly.
  3. They Walked: The Moai were jiggled back and forth, left – right, until they arrived.
  4. Took Canoes: The Moai were rolled down the mountain and loaded onto Canoes made of Banana Trees and canoed to their final destinations (A Reason perhaps why the Moai are all along the shore lines?)
  5. They were Pulled: Ropes were attached and Banana trees under and the Moai were pulled by men with Ropes.
  6. The power of Gods: The ancient powers of the ancestors moved the Moai to their final destination.
  7. Aliens: no better explanation. haha (Seriously – my tour guide said this)

Ahu Ko Te Tiku at SunsetMoai in the centre of town

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