Sunday, June 6, 2010

Moai at the hillside in Rano Raraku, Easter Island

Moai are huge monolithic human figures carved from rock on the Polynesian island of Easter Island, Chile. These sculptures are believed to be carved between 1250 AD and 1500 AD. Nearly moai half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds of such rock sculptures were transported and set on stone platforms around the island's perimeter. Moai have very large heads measuring three-fifths of their bodies. The moai are the faces of deified ancestors. The statues still gazed inland across their clan lands when Europeans first reached the island, but most moai were cast down during later conflicts between clans.

The statues' production and transportation is considered a remarkable creative, intellectual and physical feat. The tallest moai Paro was about 10 meters high and weighed 75 tons, and the heaviest erected moai was a shorter, squatter moai at Ahu Tongariki weighing 86 tons.

Rano Raraku, located on the lower slopes of Terevaka in the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island, is a volcanic crater. It was a quarry for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century, and supplied the stone from which about 95 per cent of the island's rock sculptures (moai) were carved. Rano Raraku, where 397 moai still remain, is a visual record of moai design vocabulary and technological innovation. Rano Raraku is in the World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park and gives its name to one of the seven sections of the park.

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