What are the statues and heads on Easter Island called?

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What are the statues and heads of Easter Island called?

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui in the local language, is famous for its enormous stone statues known as moai. These mysterious statues are an archaeological enigma and have captured the imagination of people around the world.

What are moai?

Moais are monolithic volcanic stone sculptures carved by the ancient inhabitants of Easter Island. It is estimated that they were sculpted between the 10th and 16th centuries, and it is believed that they represent the ancestors of the Rapanui civilization. Most moai have an average height of 4 meters, although some can reach up to 10 meters in height.

Names of the moai

Each moai has its own name given by the Rapanui. These names, in many cases, are related to ancient gods or tribal leaders. Some examples of famous moai names are:

  • The Giant: it is the largest moai on the island, with a height of approximately 21 meters.
  • The Thinker: represents a moai with his hands resting on his knees and a serene expression on his face. It is believed to symbolize reflection and wisdom.
  • The Dancer: this moai has a forward-leaning posture, as if it were in motion. Its name is due to its dynamic appearance.

These are just some examples, since there are around 900 moais on the island, each with its own name and meaning.

The heads of Easter Island

Sometimes we hear references to «heads» from Easter Island, but it is important to clarify that the moai represent complete figures and not just heads. However, because the sculptures are so large and only stick out of the ground up to their necks, they are commonly called «heads.»

The mystery of the moai

The exact purpose of the moai and how they were transported and erected remains a mystery. These giant statues weigh an average of 14 tons and some of them are located several kilometers away from the quarry where they were carved. The Rapanui used advanced techniques and knowledge to move these enormous structures, but the exact method used is still not known with certainty.

In addition to the enigma of their construction, the moai have also been the object of study due to their artistic and symbolic development. Each moai has a unique expression on its face, and some are decorated with petroglyphs that represent symbols and figures related to the Rapanui culture.

The legacy of the moai

Today, the moai are an important tourist attraction and a symbol of the cultural heritage of Easter Island. These majestic statues continue to fascinate visitors with their mystery and beauty. Furthermore, its imposing presence reminds us of the skill and creativity of the island’s ancient inhabitants, as well as the importance of preserving and valuing our history and culture.