Moai Head Statues, Easter Islands

Moai Head Statues, Easter Islands

The Moai statues are the monolithic wonders that have fascinated archaeologists for so long that they had been named Ghosts of Easter Islands (carved by the Rapa Nui people).  In history, these people were the natives of the Easter Islands,  which were also called Rapa Nui  and lie in the Pacific Ocean. These people have a culture which is many centuries old and a part of which is represented by the Moai Statues in the Eastern Island. They believed to have been carved by the Rapa Nui people from 1250 to 1500 AD in the Rapa Nui quarry which is in fact the  area called Rano Raraku, an extinct volcano. Though more than the actual number of statues installed were carved at Rano Raraku, some of them, which itself is a large number of 887, were carried out to the perimeter of the Eater Islands and installed there. All the statues are characterized by a little less that half of the height of the statue comprising the head of the figure, thus giving the impression of them being Moai Head Statues. Legend has it that the king of the islands had summoned the gods and had commanded the Moai Statues to walk on their own to their destinations.

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The Easter Islands have been a favorite subject of research for archaeologists for about 120 years. Moai Statues are about four meters tall and have distinct features which make them resemble the ideal of the Polynesian culture. There were some interesting discoveries during these expeditions and research works. Some of the statues seemed to have been wearing hats or having their hair tied in a top-knot called pukao! About thirteen Moai Statues were carved out from the basalt and six out of these have been transported to safer locations to conduct further research on them.


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As mentioned before, these statues have a very large head as compared to the total size of the body. The head alone accounts for around three eighths of the whole body of the Moai statues. These seem to represent the strong cultural as well as political power as large head was symbolic of power and authority as well as the Polynesian belief that large head was depiction of chiefly trait. All the statues have very heavy eyebrows and long noses with very distinguished nostrils that resemble a fish-hook. Lips are again small and protruding out in a pout but thin. The ears are longer than usual just like the nose. The statues have a very firm jaw and a very heavy torso. Except for one single kneeling Moai statue, none of the others have clearly distinguishable legs or feet.

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Although it is unsure when the islands were first settled by the natives of this place yet several estimates have concluded a band range of 800 to 1200 AD. Also, the reasons that led to the eventual wreckage of the islands are unknown but it seems that the major factors could have been the cutting of millions of giant palms as well as setting fires to clear out the area. It is also quite probable that the invasion of Polynesian rats along with the human settlers led to wide spread consumption of the seeds which increased that chances of trees getting decimated in the end. Whatever be the reasons, all this led to the soil on the islands to be prone to erosion and thus the volcanic island’s rich soil began to face rapid erosion. History accounts the fact that when in 1722 the island was discovered by the Europeans, they found the whole place quite barren and only a handful of inhabitants had survived and were thriving on the negligible resources. Quite surprisingly the archaeologists have also uncovered that when the Rapa Nui’s ancient inhabitants had left the quarry where they carved the Moai Statues, they had left the place in such a wonderful condition that about 400 statues could be unearthed or discovered in a shape that showed them to be in various stages of completion.

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Tukuturi was a path breaking discovery. It was the one and only statue of all the Moai Statues that was carved in a sitting position called the tuku turi on the Easter Islands. This is the posture in which people used to sit while celebrating the festival of rui and singing in the chorus. This unusual Moai Statue seems to be the last of its kind as seems to be the representative of a cultural singer of those times since the statue has a backward inclined trunk, a head held higher and a goatee which were all distinct features of a singer.

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The Moai Statues were earlier believed to have just heads rising from the ground but after a successful expeditions by archaeologists, the Moai Statues were discovered to have whole bodies, and not mere heads as presumed otherwise. Moreover, the special marks on the bodies of these statues were well preserved since they has been buried under ground for so long.

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