In , she supervised an experiment to move a nine-tonne moai. Although moai are whole-body statues, they are commonly referred to as “Easter Island heads. Moai on the Easter Island, a painting by William Hodges , — The purpose of the project is to understand the figures’ original use, context, and meaning, with the results being provided to the Rapa Nui families and the island’s public agencies that are responsible for conservation and preservation of the moai. Over the next century the moai would fall over, either intentionally pushed over or from simple neglect. When people first came to Rapa Nui, around years ago, they would have found the island overgrown with palm trees, among other vegetation.

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Credits New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. Moai are carved in relatively flat planes, the faces bearing proud but enigmatic expressions.

The statues also have torsos buried beneath the heads.

Moai – New World Encyclopedia

The Moai face sunset during the spring and autumn equinoxwith their backs to the sunrise. The arms are carved in bas noais and rest against the body in various positions, hands and long slender fingers resting along the crests of the hips, meeting mlais the hami loinclothwith the thumbs sometimes pointing towards the navel. Ahu are found mostly on the coast, where they are distributed fairly evenly except on the western slopes of Mount Terevaka and the Rano Kau and Poike headlands.


The second attempt succeeded when they embedded tracks in the ground, at least across flat ground.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) & Moai Statues

When, why, and how they were made is still a mystery today. Hoa Hakananai’a has a maro carving around its waist. Retrieved 9 June Other scholars concluded that it was probably not the way the moai were moved due to the reported damage to the base caused by the “shuffling” motion.

In the centuries that followed Rapa Nui was deforested until, by the 19th century, the landscape was utterly barren.

Infurther research indicated this method could explain the regularly spaced post holes where the statues were moved over rough ground.

Finally, an enormous red scoria cylinder called pukao was placed on top of its head. He suggested the holes contained upright posts on either side of the path so that as the statue passed between them, they were used as cantilevers for poles to help push the statue up a slope without the requirement of extra people pulling on the ropes and similarly to slow it on the downward slope. The moai stood on an ahu as representatives of sacred chiefs and gods.

Ahu Tongariki with Poike volcano in the background. According to archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, who has studied the moai for many years and is director of the Easter Island Statue Project, [15] the moai statues were not individual portraits but rather standardized representations of powerful individuals or chiefs.

Moai Statues

Another suggestion is Rarotonga, located 3, miles 5, km to the southwest of the island. Rano Raraku Moaus quarry of the moai statues. The human figures would be outlined in the rock wall first, then chipped away until only the image was left.


The name “Easter Island” stems from this first European contact. Almost all moai have overly large heads three-fifths the size of their bodies.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) & Moai Statues

Though many theories have been stipulated, the transport of the Moai is still moaiis biggest unresolved mystery of Easter Island. By the 19th centuryall the moai had been pushed over. These massive creations usually weigh around It is believed that they were made almost years ago by Polynesianswho lived there at the time and were made to honour their ancestors older family members long dead and bring good luck.

The volcanic island is the most isolated inhabited landmass on Earth. In the years after the Roggeveen visit, several other explorers visited the island.

These figures are much smaller than the better-known stone moai. Tukuturi is made of red scoria from Puna Pau, but sits at Rano Raraku, the tuff quarry. Unlike other ahuthe Akivi-Vaiteka Complex is not located on the coast.

It is not known exactly how the moai were moved across the island. Hanga Roa A lively urban moaus. Since the island was largely treeless by the time the Europeans first visited, the movement of the statues was a mystery for a long time; pollen analysis has now established that the island was almost totally forested until A. Teams of workers would have worked to rock the moai back and forth, creating the walking motion and holding the moai upright.