Sunday 25th of February 2024

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Mystery of the Easter Island

2021-07-14 7808


Why were "Moai" statues built by Rapa Nui?



Are Moai giving blessings?


The Passific Ocean is a hub for many islands where a mysterious island called Easter Island stands. This island belongs to Chile which is 2500 km away from the mainland. This island became very famous due to mysterious stone statues called " Moai" with human characteristics, situated along the coastal border. These statutes attracted the attention of popular Archeologists who carried out lengthy research who could not reveal many mysterious questions related to the creation of these statutes. Hence the mystery of Easter Island remains an unresolved mastery up to date.    

Forming a triangle of 23 km long by 11 km wide, it has an area of 163 square km. This island was called Rapa Nui.  A famous Norwegian Anthropologist Thor Hydal, suggested that the initial civilization of the island was established by people who moved from America while there is another suggestion that it was established by people who moved from Polynesia. The island which stood independent became an island belonging to Chili in 1888.

The island became a mystery with the discovery of these stone statues by a team of sailors led by Dutch Explorer Jacob Rogovin who accidentally landed on the island on Easter Sunday in  1722. Later on, he wrote in his report ““We were amazed to see these giant stone statues. I still wonder how the people who lived on the island could have erected these huge, 5 m tall gigantic statues without special techniques. ” Since they discovered the island on an Easter Sunday, it was named Easter Island.

These statutes were built in approximately  1400 - 1650 A.D. by the natives of this island.  Many describe them as the Easter Island heads. Since most of the photographs about these statutes, published in various articles, depict only the heads, this misconception came from these pictures. But all these statutes have full bodies. There are around 1000 statues, up to 86 tons in weight and 10 m in height. Moais were carved from the volcano Rano Raraku.

Moai statues would have been built in remembrance of important people who died similar to a custom, practiced by ancient Pharaohs of Egypt by preserving the bodies of very important personalities by turning their dead bodies into mummies. Even though these statutes do not seem to be identical with human faces, these statutes had different characteristics on faces, since they were intended to keep the appearance of the person it represented. These statutes represent both male and female and the ancient tribes who lived in the land believed that their chieftain who was turned into a Moai statue is a living creation and keep looking towards them continually to give them blessings.  

The old residents of the land believed that there was a woman by name Nuahine Pīkea 'Uri who possessed a strong mental power in the land. She had four children who looked after her. But when they left her for no reason leaving her starving, she   made the statues fall in anger.

Excavations in the site found some countless tools around the statues that were believed to be used for the carving. Hence most probably the artists would have left the tool near the statue to ensure the same set of tools will not be used for another creation. 

One of the biggest Easter Island mysteries is how Stone Age tribes could transport 80 ton statues a few kilometers across hilly terrain.

Even though many Archeologists carried out many researches, still the technology of carving these statutes remains unrevealed.

There are about 900 statues, the smallest statue being about 3 feet high and the largest being about 66 feet high. Also, the largest statue weighs about 80 tons. Some of these statues have a red stone cap on their heads. Still the purpose of keeping stone hats which are red colored, remains a mystery.

The other specialty of these statues is the head being large in size compared to the body.  It is also noteworthy that almost all of them are designed to face the ocean.

In addition, caves of archaeological value were found on Easter Island. Among the artifacts found in the caves, were wooden boards with the inscriptions “Rongo Rongo”. Even today, the meaning of this inscription remains unrevealed.

UNESCO is declaring sites in the world with natural, historical and cultural value as World Heritage sites. Accordingly, the Moai statue on Easter Island, which still remains a mystery, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.