Easter Island's Mysteries
Iorana Korua, Hello!
We want to welcome you to one of the most remote places lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Chile and Tahiti: Rapa Nui. The small triangular in shape island has an extinct volcano in each corner and is famous above all for having nearly a thousand monumental stone statues that guard the inhabitants, the moais. Most of them are 4 to 8 meters tall and they are all around the coast near a platform or “ahu”, where they once stood. Some of these statues wear a pukao, a cylindrical headdress carved from a reddish stone, and coral eyes, but many have lost both of these during time. The making of them at the volcanic crater of Rano Raraku, seems to have stopped suddenly, where we can see dozens of statues started and in the walls of stone. (Pratt, 2009)
|"Ahu Anakena" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Ahu Tongariki" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Ahu Tahai" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez|
TePito o TeHenua “The navel of the world”
The Rapa Nui society was divided into clans, the ariki mau or great chief, was chosen by the gods to lead the people. The position of the ariki was hereditary and the moais were built to worship the gods and to honor their ancestors. But later a powerful warrior class emerged and brought the cult to god Make-make. A competition was established and the position of the ariki was now alternated between the clans. Once a year the groups had to choose a representative for the Tangatamanu competition. The participant had to swim across shark-infested waters to Motu Nui, a nearby islet, and find the first egg of the Manutara bird. The first swimmer to return with an egg and climb back up the cliff to Orongo would be named the Tangatamanu, or "Birdman of the year". (Easter Island Foundation, 2007)
How did the islanders manage to sculpt hundreds of colossal moai, taking them from Rano Raraku to the coast and put them in their ahu? How did they carve such wonderful shapes with no metal tools? Why did they stop building them? Or why are most of them partially destroyed? (Pratt, 2009) Most of these questions will never be answered, we can only speculate. Maybe there was a war between clans for the power and they destroyed the moais of the other groups, or they stopped believing in the gods and tear them down, we will never know. This and many secrets might be revealed in the Rongorongo tablets that have never been deciphered.
|"Orongo" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Motus or islets" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Fallen Moai" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez|
Tapati Rapa Nui
The Tapati celebration occurs in summer season, at the end of January and the first week of February. Queens are selected and teams are formed. Every traditional celebration is to remember their origins and maintain their culture. (Easter Island Foundation, 2007)
They make traditional competitions, one of them is the Haka Pei, the contestants slide down the hillside in the trunk of a banana tree and the participant that stays in the slide and gets the furthest, wins. Another one is the Takona, where they paint their bodies and describe to the community the meaning of the forms. The beautiful Sau sau dance, famous for the hip movements that represent the ocean, is presented in the Tapati stage, and many other competitions of fishing, singing and swimming.
|"Body painting" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Haka Pei contest in Cerro Pu'i" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez||"Tapati stage" Courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez|
Tapati Rapa Nui 2008
In this video we can see dances, a candidate for queen and a song presented at the Tapati stage at night. Video courtesy of Trinidad Sánchez
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