Did you know...? of the week: Moai statues of Easter Island (RAPA NUI)


Did you know...? It has been found that some of the monumental sculptures of famous Moai statues of Easter Island lie semi-buried, in some cases up to eight meters deep underground. If for experts in the field was already very difficult to predict the approximate date of origin of the Rapa Nui civilization that created them, this last important discovery made ​​even more difficult if it fits the explanation of this great historical find so interesting and full of mystery.

The Easter Island, also known as "the navel of the world" (Te Pito te Henua), which has an area of ​​163.6 square kilometers or 63.2 miles square,—very similar to the dimensions of the American city of Washington DC—, is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 3750 km. or 2330 miles west of the coast of Chile. The nearest land to Easter Island geographically corresponds Ducie Island, part of the British territory Pitcarn Islands, which are located about 2,075 km to the west.

The iconic sculptures created by indigenous Rapa Nui civilization carved in volcanic rock that in some cases exceed 80 tons, were spread at the foot of the coast, virtually around the perimeter of the island, each Moai, which represents the ancestors (to a family of ethnic Rapa Nui), was elevated back to the pacific ocean, so he could be admired by the people, who stood right at your feet. The name "moai" means in the Rapa Nui language, "sculpture".

At first it was thought that the people found on the island came from South America, but recent DNA tests have shown that the inhabitants of the island were Polynesians.

Polynesian Triangle. 1. Hawaii, 2. New Zealand 3. Easter Island 4. Samoa 5. Tahiti. A thousand years before Columbus, Polynesians eastward conquered the largest islands within two million square miles, which is known as the Polynesian Triangle, from Samoa to Hawaii and New Zealand, via Tahiti and finally reaching Easter Island.

Taking advantage of ocean currents, the Polynesian voyagers reached Easter Island in canoes sometime between the years 400 and 800 AD, so it is really surprising that Rapa Nui could have survived over a thousand years on the island until first European explorers arrived.

above beautiful image of the many Moai statues that were abandoned at the foot of the quarry by the inability to transport due to its large size. Some of them, because of their large size, they could not even be put in place.

Due to the large dimensions of the moai, recent studies have shown that at huge statues-of between one and ten meters high, could have been transported from a single quarry for several groups of employees with strong ropes in some cases up to 18 km away to the Ahu Tongariki, a stone platforms where finally the moai were located.

Twelve were tribes who lived in Rapa Nui Easter Island for more than a millennium. These, to delimit their own ground, always had its share of sea. The ecosystem of the island was very good to arrive, full of greenery with many trees. Around 1600 AD there was a deforestation of the island, the inhabitants were left without resources and produced the first wars between the tribes, mainly by the absence of food, during these wars, some of the moai were seriously damaged.

In order to end years of fighting and bring peace to the island, the Rapa Nui created the ritual birdman cult. This difficult test was to find the nests and collect the first egg of the bird Manutara who lived on the islet Motu Nui, the largest of the three. Once a year, a representative from each tribe, commonly called Rapa Nui language Hopo Manu, had to descend the treacherous cliffs of Orongo of no less than 324 meters in height,-the same which has today the Eiffel Tower in Paris , and about 2km swim with sharks to pick up the same.

Before participating in the ceremony Birdman, the Hopo Manu (Competitors) celebrated a ritual meal called "Umu Tahu" and painted their bodies with "Kitea" mineral pigments of different colors extracted from the very cliffs of the island.

Each competitor (Hopo Manu), must swim back and climb the cliffs of Orongo to the top with the egg intact manutara bird tied to the front. The first Manu Hopo deliver your Arakiri (King), was become Tangata manu (Bird-Man), the Religious and Political Leader of the island for a year. Thus, with a single leader, could reign again finally peace in the island. The manutara, which was considered a sacred bird and their eggs a symbol of power and fertility, was one of the few species of birds that migrate to Easter Island followed after the trees disappear.

The island was discovered by European explorers led by Dutch Dutch sailor Jakob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday, specifically the April 5, 1722, hence its name. About 4,000 Rapa Nui would have lived on the island until the arrival of the first Europeans in the eighteenth century. With the arrival of the settlers came firearms, slavery and disease such as smallpox and tuberculosis, so that at the end of the nineteenth century and were only in the 111 Easter Island Rapa Nui, of which only 36 were offspring.

The last moai, the highest, although much more stylized than the first creations, in my opinion were abandoned at the foot of the quarry of Rano Raraku by the inability to transport due to its large size. The top image shows that some sculptures were falling face down while trying to take them to the people of each tribe by the three main roads that formerly existed.

The moai lying half-buried inscriptions have several policies that are still being deciphered. One of the curiosities that can be drawn is that the Rapa Nui were improving and perfecting the moai getting ever higher and better finishes by stylized forms, however, important to note that the tribes also competed to build the tallest moai.

The sculptures are finished off at the top with a pukao, a kind of hat made ​​of red volcanic stone. In addition, the eyes of the statues were decorated with white coral plates, which made the sculptures in living faces, known as Ora Aringa.

Today, with a population of just over 5,000 inhabitants living on tourism and fishing, the Rapa Nui live in Hanga Roa, the only inhabited island, this one, which is situated in the south-west, has its own port, airport, numerous hotels and twelve restaurants. The reality is that a large boat full of tourists come almost every day to Easter Island. The famous moai are the real tourist attraction of the island, which cause approximately 50,000 people visit it each year.

After much of the moai carved directly on the rock using sharp utensils basalt and obsidian, was extracted from the same side up, then, it was lying by the side slide with the help of ropes to land in a ditch. After putting the moai standing sculpt was finished back, also profiled arms and other finishes, including different inscriptions. Once the moai, were transported to their destination by one of the three main roads that formerly existed. This procedure shows that the Rapa Nui spent much of his time sculpting numerous moai quarry.

Easter Island form, along with the uninhabited island of Salas y Gómez, one of the eight provinces of Valparaiso, Chile. However, to protect the great historical find the Moai statues, in July 2007 Easter Island was declared a Special Territory, so that his Government and Administration are currently governed by a special statute. To preserve the beautiful archaeological remains of this magical place, created the Rapa Nui National Park, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. In addition, the Moai statues of Easter Island were finalists in a competition held very important in Porto, Portugal, on 7/7/2007, which was to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World by popular vote.

above beautiful picture of the famous moai sunk. Unable to take the last Moai statues after swiping the side of the quarry, the Rapa Nui different inscriptions carved on them and then the semi-buried, do not forget that the moai representing a family of Rapa Nui. When a person dies, usually buries as deceased. The fact leave the face exposed was a way to recognize them.

Given the remoteness of Easter Island to other regions, and in order to continue preserving their already weakened ecosystem-the moai are deteriorating fast-growing, has been raised by local authorities are the same tourists which bring with them their own trash that they generate.

I would stress that the famous moai created by the Rapa Nui civilization,—that provide genuine identity to the island—, along with the latest ethnic villagers still live in Hanga Roa, are part of the living testimony of a civilization admirable lived isolated from the rest of the world for over a thousand years, who knew how to get ahead of itself with the resources obtained from the island itself and the sea, making it a great example of survival, effort and improvement.


Home  Geography  Architects   Engineers  Skyscrapers  Bridges  Buildings Towers  Publications  Last Photographics Works  About me