Els moais són estàtues esculpides amb tuf de l'illa de Pasqua, a l'oest de Xile. Totes les estàtues són monolítiques, és a dir, esculpides en una sola peça. Els més de 600 moais coneguts estan distribuïts per tota l'illa. La majoria van ser esculpits en roca a la pedrera de Rano Raraku, on queden prop de 400 moais més en diferents fases de construcció. Sembla que la pedrera va ser abandonada de sobte i es van deixar estàtues a mig fer a la roca. Pràcticament, tots els moais acabats que es trobaven a la pedrera van ser posteriorment destruïts pels illencs natius en el període següent a l'aturada en la construcció.

Els primers navegants europeus que, al principi del segle xviii, van arribar a l'illa de Pasqua no podien creure's el que veien. En aquesta petita àrea de terra, van descobrir centenars d'estàtues enormes sobre la superfície de tota l'illa.

Map of Easter Island using moai to show locations of various ahu

The statues were carved by the Polynesian colonizers of the island, mostly between circa 1250 and 1500.[1] In addition to representing deceased ancestors, the moai, once they were erected on ahu, may also have been regarded as the embodiment of powerful living or former chiefs and important lineage status symbols. Each moai presented a status: "The larger the statue placed upon an ahu, the more mana the chief who commissioned it had."[2] The competition for grandest statue was ever prevalent in the culture of the Easter Islanders. The proof stems from the varying sizes of moai.[2]

Completed statues were moved to ahu mostly on the coast, then erected, sometimes with pukao, red stone cylinders, on their heads. Moai must have been extremely expensive to craft and transport; not only would the actual carving of each statue require effort and resources, but the finished product was then hauled to its final location and erected.

An incomplete moai in quarry

The quarries in Rano Raraku appear to have been abandoned abruptly, with a litter of stone tools and many completed moai outside the quarry awaiting transport and almost as many incomplete statues still in situ as were installed on ahu. In the nineteenth century, this led to conjecture that the island was the remnant of a sunken continent and that most completed moai were under the sea. That idea has long been debunked, and now it is understood that:

Some statues were rock carvings and never intended to be completed. Some were incomplete because, when inclusions were encountered, the carvers would abandon a partial statue and start a new one.[3] Tuff is a soft rock with occasional lumps of much harder rock included in it. Some completed statues at Rano Raraku were placed there permanently and not parked temporarily awaiting removal.[4] Some were indeed incomplete when the statue-building era came to an end.Craftsmen

It is not known exactly which group in the communities were responsible for carving statues. Oral traditions suggest that the moai were carved either by a distinguished class of professional carvers who were comparable in status to high-ranking members of other Polynesian craft guilds, or, alternatively, by members of each clan. The oral histories show that the Rano Raraku quarry was subdivided into different territories for each clan.

Ahu Akivi, the furthest inland of all the ahu
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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 1200 CE. The tree pollen disappeared from the record by 1650.[citation needed]

It is not known exactly how the moai were moved across the island. Earlier researchers assumed that the process almost certainly required human energy, ropes, and possibly wooden sledges (sleds) and/or rollers, as well as leveled tracks across the island (the Easter Island roads). Another theory suggests that the moai were placed on top of logs and were rolled to their destinations.[5] If that theory is correct it would take 50–150 people to move the moai.[citation needed] The most recent study demonstrates from the evidence in the archaeological record that the statues were harnessed with ropes from two sides and made to "walk" by tilting them from side to side while pulling forward.[6][7][8][9] They would also use a chant, whilst 'walking' the moai. Coordination and cohesion were essential, so they developed a chant in which the rhythm helped them pull at the precise moment necessary.[10][better source needed]

Oral histories recount how various people used divine power to command the statues to walk. The earliest accounts say a king named Tuu Ku Ihu moved them with the help of the god Makemake, while later stories tell of a woman who lived alone on the mountain ordering them about at her will. Scholars currently support the theory that the main method was that the moai were "walked" upright (some assume by a rocking process), as laying it prone on a sledge (the method used by the Easter Islanders to move stone in the 1860s) would have required an estimated 1500 people to move the largest moai that had been successfully erected. In 1998, Jo Anne Van Tilburg suggested fewer than half that number could do it by placing the sledge on lubricated rollers. In 1999, she supervised an experiment to move a nine-tonne moai. A replica was loaded on a sledge built in the shape of an A frame that was placed on rollers and 60 people pulled on several ropes in two attempts to tow the moai. The first attempt failed when the rollers jammed up. The second attempt succeeded when tracks were embedded in the ground. This was on flat ground and used eucalyptus wood rather than the native palm trees.[11]

Sign indicating the protected status of the moai

In 1986, Pavel Pavel, Thor Heyerdahl and the Kon-Tiki Museum experimented with a five-tonne moai and a nine-tonne moai. With a rope around the head of the statue and another around the base, using eight workers for the smaller statue and 16 for the larger, they "walked" the moai forward by swiveling and rocking it from side to side; however, the experiment was ended early due to damage to the statue bases from chipping. Despite the early end to the experiment, Thor Heyerdahl estimated that this method for a 20-tonne statue over Easter Island terrain would allow 320 feet (100 m) per day. 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.[11][12]

Around the same time, archaeologist Charles Love experimented with a 10-tonne replica. His first experiment found rocking the statue to walk it was too unstable over more than a few hundred yards. He then found that placing the statue upright on two sled runners atop log rollers, 25 men were able to move the statue 150 feet (46 m) in two minutes. In 2003, further research indicated this method could explain supposedly regularly spaced post holes (his research on this claim has not yet been published) where the statues were moved over rough ground. 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 poles could also act as a brake when needed.[13]

Based on detailed studies of the statues found along prehistoric roads, archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo have shown that the pattern of breakage, form and position of statues is consistent with an "upright" hypothesis for transportation.[6] Hunt and Lipo argue that when the statues were carved at a quarry, the sculptors left their bases wide and curved along the front edge. They showed that statues along the road have a center of mass that causes the statue to lean forward. As the statue tilts forward, it rocks sideways along its curved front edge and takes a "step." Large flakes are seen broken off of the sides of the bases. They argue that once the statue was "walked" down the road and installed in the landscape, the wide and curved base was carved down.[14] All of this evidence points to an upright transportation practice.

Recent experimental recreations have proven that it is fully possible that the moai were literally walked from their quarries to their final positions by ingenious use of ropes. Teams of workers would have worked to rock the moai back and forth, creating the walking motion and holding the moai upright.[8][15] If correct, it can be inferred that the fallen road moai were the result of the teams of balancers being unable to keep the statue upright, and it was presumably not possible to lift the statues again once knocked over.[16] However, the debate continues.[17]

Birdman cult

Originally, Easter Islanders had a paramount chief or single leader.[citation needed] Through the years the power levels veered from sole chiefs to a warrior class known as matatoʻa. The therianthropic figure of a half bird and half-man was the symbol of the matatoʻa; the distinct character connected the sacred site of Orongo. The new cult prompted battles of tribes over worship of ancestry. Creating the moai was one way the islanders would honor their ancestors; during the height of the birdman cult there is evidence which suggests that the construction of moai stopped.

Petroglyph of a birdman with an egg in hand.

"One of the most fascinating sights at Orongo are the hundreds of petroglyphs carved with birdman and Makemake images. Carved into solid basalt, they have resisted ages of harsh weather. It has been suggested that the images represent birdman competition winners. Over 480 birdman petroglyphs have been found on the island, mostly around Orongo."[18] Orongo, the site of the cult's festivities, was a dangerous landscape which consisted of a "narrow ridge between a 1,000-foot (300 m) drop into the ocean on one side and a deep crater on the other". Considered the sacred spot of Orongo, Mata Ngarau was the location where birdman priests prayed and chanted for a successful egg hunt. "The purpose of the birdman contest was to obtain the first egg of the season from the offshore islet Motu Nui. Contestants descended the sheer cliffs of Orongo and swam to Motu Nui where they awaited the coming of the birds. Having procured an egg, the contestant swam back and presented it to his sponsor, who then was declared birdman for that year, an important status position."[19]

Moai Kavakava

These figures are much smaller than the better-known stone moai. They are made of wood and have a small, slender aspect, giving them a sad appearance. These figures are believed to have been made after the civilization on Rapa Nui began to collapse, which is why they seem to have a more emaciated appearance to them.[20]

1722–1868 toppling of the moai
Toppled moai

At some point after the 1722 Jacob Roggeveen arrival, all of the moai that had been erected on ahu were toppled, with the last standing statues reported in 1838 by Abel Aubert du Petit-Thouars, and no upright statues by 1868,[21] apart from the partially buried ones on the outer slopes of Rano Raraku.

Oral histories include one account of a clan pushing down a single moai in the night, but others refer to the "earth shaking", and there are indications that at least some of them fell down due to earthquakes.[22] Some of the moai toppled forward such that their faces were hidden, and often fell in such a way that their necks broke; others fell off of the back of their platforms.[22] Today, about 50 moai have been re-erected on their ahus or at museums elsewhere.[23]

The Rapa Nui people were then devastated by the slave trade that began at the island in 1862. Within a year, the individuals that remained on the island were sick, injured, and lacking leadership. The survivors of the slave raids had new company from landing missionaries. Over time, the remaining populace converted to Christianity. Slowly, Native Easter Islanders began to be assimilated, as their tattoos and body paint were banned by the new Christian proscriptions, after which they were then subjected to removal from a portion of their native lands and made to reside on a much smaller portion of the island, while the rest was used for farming by the Peruvians.

Original moai at the Louvre Museum, in Paris
Removal of original moai from Easter Island

Ten or more moai have been removed from Easter Island and transported to locations around the world, including the ones today displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris and the British Museum in London.

Replicas and casts

Several other locations displays replicas (casts) of moai, including the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; the Auckland Museum;[24] the American Museum of Natural History;[25] and the campus of the American University.[26]

Ahu Tahai
^ Steven R Fischer. The island at the end of the world. Reaktion Books 2005 ISBN 1-86189-282-9 ^ a b Cite error: The named reference The Rise 2013 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Routledge 1919, p. 181. ^ Routledge 1919, p. 186. ^ The human figures would be outlined in the rock wall first, then chipped away until only the image was left.[6] ^ a b Hunt, Terry; Lipo, Carl (2012). The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island. Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4391-5031-3. ^ Carl P. Lipo, Terry L. Hunt, Sergio Rapu Hao; Hunt; Haoa (2013). "The 'Walking' Megalithic Statues (Moai) of Easter Island". J. Archaeol. Sci. 40 (6): 2859. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.09.029.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) ^ a b Bloch, Hannah (July 2012). "Easter Island: The riddle of the moving statues". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. 222 (1): 30–49. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013. ^ Unsolved Mysteries: The Secret of Easter Island Archived 21 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine a test of walking the statues ^ Bernstein, Josh. "Digging For the Truth: Giants of Easter Island". Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013. ^ a b History channel "Mega Movers: Ancient Mystery Moves" ^ Easter Island – the mystery solved. Thor Heyerdahl 1989 ^ Flenley, John (2003). The Enigmas of Easter Island: Island on the Edge. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280340-5. ^ Terry Hunt, Carl Lipo. "The Statues Walked – What Really Happened on Easter Island – the Long Now". Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2017. ^ Mystery of Easter Island (TV Documentary). NOVA and National Geographic Television. Retrieved 10 November 2012. ^ "Easter Island Statues Could Have 'Walked' Into Position". Wired. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 10 March 2017. ^ Ghose, Tia (7 June 2013). "Easter Island's 'Walking' Stone Heads Stir Debate". LiveScience. Archived from the original on 23 November 2020. Retrieved 30 August 2013. ^ "Mysterious Places: Explore Sacred Sites and Ancient Civilizations." Mysterious Places: Explore Sacred Sites and Ancient Civilizations. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 October 2013. ^ "Easter Island – Moai Statues and Rock Art of Rapa Nui." The Birdman Motif of Easter Island. N.p., n.d. 29 October 2013. ^ F. Forment; D. Huyge; H. Valladas (2001). "AMS 14C age determinations of Rapanui (Easter Island) wood sculpture: moai kavakava ET 48.63 from Brussels". Antiquity. 75 (289): 529–32. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00088748. Archived from the original on 13 January 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2013. ^ J. Linton Palmer (1870). "A visit to Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, in 1868". Journal of the Royal Geographic Society. 40: 167–81. doi:10.2307/1798641. JSTOR 1798641. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019. ^ a b Edmundo Edwards; Raul Marchetti; Leopoldo Dominichetti; Oscar Gonzales-Ferran (1996). "When the Earth Trembled, the Statues Fell". Rapa Nui Journal. Vol. 10, no. 1. pp. 1–15. ^ Terry L. Hunt & Carl P. Lipo (2011). The Statues That Walked:Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island. Free Press. ^ "Auckland Museum - Moai replica". Archived from the original on 3 October 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021. ^ "American Museum of Natural History - Moai cast". Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021. ^ "Welcome to American University, Washington, DC USA". Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
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