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The Magic of the Moai of Easter Island

Posted by on May 7, 2013
Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki

 

Paul, our guide, visited Easter Island in the 60′s as a teenager assisting the archeological team at the time.  He is a wealth of knowledge of the island and the moai with the perspective of a visitor, an archeologist and now a resident.  He stopped one tour guide to correct her in Spanish, he said, she was giving incorrect information to her group.  He is passionate about the island, the history and making sure you understand. It was with this passion that I feel under the spell of the island in a way that made me personalize each Moai – I created stories and imagined lives of the those living at the time in the middle of the world building the statues. It made me remember the Moai - the group, the individuals and the fallen.

I felt sad if a Moai was broken or lying flat on the ground, having been knocked from its altar.

Fallen Moai

Fallen Moai

Sad, that some spirits were trapped inside (based on the stories Paul told of the legend of the Moai).  Sad that the one moai all alone, away from the road was rarely visited as evidenced by the high grass and lack of parking spaces set aside for visitors - he was a blip on the map that I wanted to find to let him know he wasn’t alone. You can see that the elements have taken their toll.

Maoi left alone in a field with no visitors

Maoi left alone in a field with no visitors

Yes, I know, I’ve seen too many Toy Story movies and think when we aren’t looking they come alive at night – that it’s magic!  And when you see how large the statues are on Easter Island, where they came from in the quarry and wonder how they got to their resting places, once has to think that magic was involved, right?  I mean how the heck did this topknot (hat) get on the statue way back then? It weighs a few tons and is massive!  So for my visit, let me pretend for a little while….

A tumbled Top Knot

A tumbled Top Knot

The Moai were primarily made from the mountain rock in the quarry to represent ancestors of the tribes obviously with some creative license given the larger heads, smaller bodies, lack of arms and protruding features.  They were moved to the various locations along the coast of the island and then arranged on their alters to protect the people - the stone pebbles in front of the altars are not to be walked on as they are deemed to be sacred.  A few got topknots (or hats). No one looks the same in my opinion.

Moai at the Anakena

Moai at the Anakena

 

Ahu Akivi - 7 Moai inland

Ahu Akivi – 7 Moai inland

 

Ahu Tongariki- 15 Moai

Ahu Tongariki – 15 Moai

The view from behind the altar

Looking behind

Looking behind

 

There is one kneeling Moai believed to be a monk and given feet (which was rare).

Kneeling Monk

Kneeling Monk

Over the years, many archeologists have explored the island.  At the quarry, where the famous faces of the island are and the images that you see most, the majority of Moai remain buried below their shoulders.

Moai at the Quarry

Moai at the Quarry

In another place you may think you see an alien (another theory is aliens, of course) among the many faces.

You make the call - E.T. phone home?

You make the call – E.T. phone home?

This one looks like a birdman or owl?

Moai - birdman? owl?

Moai – birdman? owl?

This one never made it to the altar

Moai left behind

Moai left behind

This one can now see the light

Moai buried

Moai buried

But no one sees the water as they all face inland to look out for their descendants.

What a view they are missing

What a view they are missing

So in touring the island, take a good look at each Moai and decide for yourself if you will give them your own story to add to your experience….to the magic.

Ahu at Hanga Roa

Ahu at Hanga Roa

6 Responses to The Magic of the Moai of Easter Island

  1. Richard Thompson

    Great pics and comments about the stories of the island and Moai. Looks like a great place to visit and learn a lot from quality tour guides. It must have been interesting to see the quarry where all the rock was taken from as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Chaparral

    It is kind of a cool and magical thought that they might come to life when no one is looking. I mean who’s to say they aren’t. It might just be that we aren’t clever enough to catch them coming to life. :D

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