Rapa Nui | More Moai and Some Wild Horses

Ahu Tongariki_15 Moai facing the Quarry
The Moai at Ahu Tongariki face their “birthplace”

After visiting the quarry at  Rano Raraku ( Rapa Nui | Seeing is Believing Pt I ), it’s time to explore the island to see how far and wide these monolithic statues traveled. No one knows for sure how the Moai were transported.  NOVA’s  Secrets of Easter Island  provides an excellent overview of prominent theories.

Ahu Tongariki_15 Moai
Ahu Tongariki

The fifteen Moai at Tongariki are easily seen from the quarry, which is only one kilometer away. Ahu Tongariki from Rano RarakuThe largest Ahu on the island, it includes an 86 TON moai – the heaviest ever erected. These Moai all face sunset on the summer solstice.

Ahu A Kivi_Seven Moai
Ahu Akivi

The Moai at Ahu Akivi are the only ones that face the ocean which is another of the many mysteries surrounding the statues. Moreover, these seven identical statues exactly face sunset during the Spring Equinox and have their backs to the sunrise during the Autumn Equinox.

Anakena with Moai and Beach
Anakena has two Ahu at center and at right above.

Oral tradition holds that Anakena is the landing place of Hotu Matu’a,  the founder of Rapa Nui’s first settlement. There are two Ahu: Ahu Ature (seen above center) and Ahu Nao-Nao.

Anakena Moai
Ahu Nao-Nao at Anakena Beach with Pukao

The Pukao, or topknot, carved from red scoria found at Puna Pao, was placed after the Moai reached the Ahu, which is why you will not see any Pukao in the quarry. Additionally, eye sockets were carved in a ceremonious ritual and eyes made from white coral added, at which point the Moai’s mana (spirit) could project over the tribe.

Ahu Tahai
Ahu Ko Te Riku

Today, only one Moai has “eyes” and they are reproductions of the ones found by Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki Museum expedition during explorations at Anakena in the mid-1980s.

Ahu Tahai and Ahu Vai UreOver time, conditions on the island deteriorated and the people felt abandoned – Moai no longer seen as powerful or effective. While the statues were still in situ when the Europeans first visited in 1722, over the next 150 years they were toppled until not a single statue was standing.

Fallen Moai and Ahu Te Peu
Toppled Moai at Ahu Akahanga

Islanders turned from worshiping their ancestors embodied in the Moai to the Tangata Manu or Bird Man cult. More on that in the next post. To end, here are a few photos of the wild horses that abound on the island.

Mother and child in step
Brand New Baby!
Ahu Akahanga horses and Moai
This Moai traveled almost 5 miles before falling (horses for scale)!
Wild Horses at the Crater
Wild Horses in front of Rano Raraku

While these horses live “free,” they have owners. That is how we learned that the foal in the topmost photo was only a few hours old!

6 thoughts on “Rapa Nui | More Moai and Some Wild Horses

  1. Hi Maggie,
    I read that Easter Island is at risk with the rising of the ocean waters due to global warming.
    Terrible.
    Thanks for sending.
    Carolyn

    Carolyn Rothberg
    Plaza Travel
    16530 Ventura Blvd.
    Suite 106
    Encino, CA 91436
    818.990.4053
    800 347-4447
    818-789-5405 Fax
    carolynr@plazatravel.com

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