Easter Island - Tour the Island
1. Rano Raraku- The Birthplace of the Moai
1. Rano Raraku 2. Ahu Tongariki 3. Ahu Vinapu 4.Ahu Akivi 5. Ahu Naunau 6. Ahu Tahai 7. Rano Kau and Orongo
everyone has seen the iconic images of the Easter Island statues staring
silently out from the hillsides. For years I thought these were the only
Moai on the island. I knew nothing of the statues erected on ahu or the
fallen moai at the other sites. Seeing these pictures many people have come
to believe that all Moai faced the ocean while it is the exact opposite
that is true. With the exception of Ahu Akivi all erected Moai face inland.
It is believed they were positioned that way to watch over the villages.
At Rano Raraku the statues face away from the crater.The
fact is these statues were not meant to have stayed in this place. The Moai
that you see half buried on the sides of the volcanic cone of Rano Raraku
were pieces waiting to be transported to ahu around the island. The Moai
that you see sticking up out of the ground have bodies that extend down
underground 20 - 40 feet, all the way to the waist. Centuries of erosion
from the slopes above have covered all but the tops of these giants - the
largest Moai ever constructed. One
of the unfinished moai, completely carved but not removed from the crater
wall, is a staggering 70 feet in length. Many doubt this statue could ever
have been raised successfully. Giving their ingenuity and obsession, I believe
they would have eventually.The slopes of Rano Raraku are filled with eye-less
moai - several hundred circle the crater in various stages of construction.
a more detailed and finished look than the moai erected on the island's
ahu. There are some that disagree that these statues were finished pieces
waiting for transport and believe that they were never meant to be move
from the slopes surrounding their birth place. Perhaps it was a "Moai
Showroom" of sorts where local leaders could come and pick out their
Statue shown on the left is my personal favorite. It's thin deeply chiseled
features make it unique among the Moai. At over 45 feet tall it must have
been extremely difficult to carve and move.
team was given one day in 1987 to excavate and measure the full length
of the moai. Its regal head tapers into a long thin body with carved tattoo
and loin cloth relief's on its surface. It has a distinctly phallic shape
to it and some have proposed that all the moai were purposely designed
around a phallus shaped form.
of the caldera contains many finished and unfinished moai as well. Erosion
has covered many nearly completely and it's possible more lay beneath
the ground, covered by hundreds of years of erosion. The potmarked walls
from which the moai where carved can clearly be seen in this photo taken
of the interior of the Rano Raraku caldera just above the crater lake. Right:
Statues located on the interior slopes of Rana Raraku. Centuries of erosion
have buried many of the Moai around the rim of the caldera.
the strangest Moai ever found on Easter Island. The odd "kneeling"
statue. Found by archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl's team in 1955 on a part of
the Rano Raraku quarry near no other statues it stands, hauntingly. It is
a very realistic piece compared to the traditional moai and it is unclear
whether this was a very early piece or a later development. Its location,
away from the other carved moai is also unusual. One legend says that this
is a representation of a famous moai carver, erected to watch over future
generations of the craftsmen
something about this statue that makes the hair on the back of my neck
stand up. I can't put my finger on what it is but as I stood there looking
at it with the howling tradewinds blowing through my ears, I knew there
was a story here that had not been told. It's as if the statue is trying
to scream out, to tell us what happened. But it's mouth is solid basalt
and winds block out any sound.
Next: Ahu Tongariki
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