The Easter Island Moai: What Lies Beneath
Everyone’s familiar with the Easter Island heads—from postcards to movies, these huge stone heads in the Pacific have become ubiquitous in pop culture, synonymous with tropical paradise and a getaway that is a completely different world from the daily grind of commuter stress and white collar work.
But these massive structures are not just stone faces put on land. They are part of a very important period in the island’s culture and way of life that gradually evolved and took them away from ancestor worship to a markedly-different religion involving bird-men.
These heads, called moai, are not merely heads made to represent a particular ancestor of a group.
Upon excavation, it was discovered that beneath the heads were actually elongated parts which constituted the body under layers and layers of soil, and that there are markings carved into the back of the unseen bodies.
Easter Island Ranu Raraku
As of now, no one knows what they mean yet—the current theory is that they may be the story of each ancestor. Moai are usually located along the coast, and it’s said that they are positioned in such a way that each one faces their ancestral lands.
Hidden Secrets of Moai in Easter Island
The newer moai, made around 1500 CE, often represent heads with the topknots of chieftains, and their white coral eyes indicate that perhaps the older heads were similarly decorated to resemble the ancestor each one represents.
Easter Island Statue Bodies
Discovery of Easter Island Statue Project
These moai were constructed around 1250 and 1500 CE by people originally from Polynesia, called the Rapa Nui. With over 887 of them which are located on the island, there are still so many more undiscovered, located in museums or destroyed because of historical events.
Easter Island Statue Project discovered that these are more than just stone heads
After the 1700s, several earthquakes, clashes between clans on the island and the spread of Christianity resulted in the destruction of many moai, as well as the disappearance of the stories behind them.
EISP also discovered that there are carvings on the statue’s backs
Fortunately, there have been moves to restore the moai and to learn more about their creation. The moai of Easter Island are now considered one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. If you ever think about a Pacific getaway, this is definitely not an attraction to miss!
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