Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Easter Island Statues

The Easter Island and its Statues, Isle de Pascua

Easter Island StatuesEaster Island Statue Moai with replica eyes at Ahu Ko Te Riku in Hanga Roa

Weird, mysterious and isolated

There are many places on earth with some sort of fascinations, but Easter Island is not just fascinating but it is undoubtedly the most intriguing place in the World. This little island dotted with gigantic and weird looking human statues; is in the Oceania (the groups of islands around Australia) in the South Pacific Ocean. The Easter Island is the most isolated place with human inhabitation as the nearest inhabited places are (Tahiti or Chile) at least two thousand miles away!

Rapa Nui and Rapanui

From where did these inhabitants come why did they built so many gigantic statues (these statues are known as Moais), how did those people bring these stones to this remote island, what technology they used for the transportation? More over why have they toiled to make such gigantic statues? These are questions that intrigue visitors as well as those are interested archaeology. In 1722 one sailor by name Admiral Reggeveen landed on this island that was an Easter day; hence he named that island Easter Island. The local people call this island Rapa Nui and (Isle de Pascua in Portuguese). Rapanui has become a common word for everything related to this island, its language as well as its natives.

Special territory

Easter Island StatuesEaster Island Statues Ahu Akivi, one of the few inland Ahu with the only moai facing the ocean

The capital of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is Hanga Roa and this island is a special territory under Chile. The islanders in general are not concerned about Chile’s claim and go on living as per their customs and preserving there own identity. Spanish and Repanui are the official languages. Its population (about 3000) consists entirely of Rapanui and Chilean. Easter Island is a World Heritage Site and most of the island is covered and protected as the Repanui National Park.

Moais (the statues)

Easter Island StatuesEaster Island Statues

Had there been no moais; the Easter Island would have remained as one among the thousands of remote islands in the Pacific Ocean and no one would have wasted time thinking about it. There are about 887 of them as per the inventories. These statues are not identical; they vary in their size and shape. These statues are made of carving hard stone; their heads are overly large (about three fifth of the total size). Moais are images of human torso with heads (some of them are dug deep in sand and only heads are visible). These moais are believed to be images of the ancestors (probable deified) of the islanders; may be a sign of ancestor worship).

Coral eye and scoria pupil

As per Sonia Haoa and archaeologist these statues were made with eye sockets capable to hold white corals as eyes with scoria (a volcanic stone with shining black color) as its pupil, she has demonstrated the statement by collecting the fragments of corals and scoria retrieved around the statues and reconstructing it to its original shapes.

The tallest and he heaviest

Easter Island StatuesEaster Island Statues

The tallest moai (known as Paro) is 10 meters (33 feet) in height and weigh 75 tons, where as the heaviest is 86 tons in weight; it is placed on a platform by name Ahu Tongariki. There is one unfinished moai; which if completed would have been the tallest and the heaviest (21 meter in height and 240 tons in weight!) Most of the moais are found in Ranu Roraku the moai quarry; recently hundreds of them have been transported to set them on the ahus (the platform for placing moais). The moais were originally placed on ahus with their back facing the sea.

A baby boom and after !

The Easter Island is often quoted as an example of the consequences of uncontrolled population explosion. This island was initially discovered and inhabited by Polynesians. In the initial times settlers were few in number and life was comfortable. Their number increased rapidly and all the available land had to be converted in to farmlands. When human beings multiplied like rats land became insufficient to feed the increasing numbers. This ‘population explosion’ led to starvation and wide spread riots. Easter Island’s geographical isolation made migration to less populated places impossible.

Scapegoats of a tragedy !

People who were dying of hunger turned to cannibalism; they started killing and eating their neighbors! Their frustration later turned against the moais which were standing there as if they were mere spectators of these horrible scenes. The moais were dragged by the violent mob and got dumped in to a waste land. These statues were there for centuries until recently and they were reinstalled in proper places by the joint initiative of UNESCO and the government.

A nostalgic past

In 1950 Heyer Dahl the famous Norwegian explorer (his work the ‘Kon tiki Expedition’ was a classic) happened to visit made the existence such an isolated island popular, this aroused curiosity among sailors. His theory about the original inhabitants has been proved wrong and it has been established that the people were of Polynesian stocks. As per the latest opinions it must be a set of less than 100 people probably lost their way on the sea and happened to land and stay here. The lush forests with small animals, flightless birds, and rich fish of the sea shore were more than what they bargained for!

Life as a dream!

If what the archaeologists say are true this island’ original culture was enough create jealousy among the modern men, the isolation to which these people were subjected worked in forming an exclusive lifestyle for its inhabitants. Enough food and leisure aroused in them hidden creative talents; for which they toiled and suffered to bring huge stones from nearby sea-rocks, cut huge trees barked them for artworks every thing they could lay hands on; stones, wood, barks of trees, their own body skin, virtually every where they could work turned out to be their canvass. Dance and music was their favorite time pass.

Survived to tell their story

Life for them was devotion and they went on giving birth to beautiful art works from birth to death! They made it every where; they tattooed their own body with fine arts. But alas bark of wood, body skin every thing perished by the passing of time but these hard stones out of which they made these immortal statues alone survived the test of time! They survived the time of cannibalism; and stand tall declaring the greatness of their creators!

How to get there ?

Easter Island StatuesEaster Island Map

There are regular flights from Santiago to Mataveri airport, with less than one thousand dollars one can reach there and fly back in style. Rapa Nui people who operate small hotels come and invite tourists for stay and sight seeing, these people are one of the friendliest in the world and their words can be trusted. The advantage is not only in saving money it is a chance to understand the local life and people.

Brilliant landscapes and Tapati

The natives are a jolly lot and their most important festival is the Tapati Festival which is celebrated during January and February. The festival of 2008 is nearing and a visit during this time is real joy! Easter Island’s landscapes are really amazing with volcanic craters, clean beaches, and famous archeological sites. Pay a visit to the remotest inhabited land in the world and experience the hospitality of a far away people, see the moais as much as you can all for just one thousand bucks!


Anonymous said...

cheers..... good article

Visions Adolescent Treatment Center said...

I wonder, is there any surf there? does anyone know?