Mysterious statues on Easter Island
Rapa Nui is best known for its legendary monolithic statues that seem to stand guard around the island while staring at the sea. These statues, called Moai, will impress visitors at first sight. These Easter Island sculptures are 95% made of stone from Rano Raraku crater.
There are more than 600 Moai sculptures scattered around the island of Rapa Nui. They range in size from 1 meter to more than 8 meters in height. These statues are evidence of the history that originated from Hotu Matua, the first king to initiate the settlement that developed into a prosperous culture that lasted more than 700 years here.
Until now, scientists still do not know exactly how the statues are arranged in these positions, and especially their importance. After decades of research, archeology, scientific investigation and legends that have been passed down through generations, this mystery continues to be controversial.
Some statues are dated to over 3,000 years old, while the most recent ones are from the 18th century. Not only are the construction and the meaning of the statues hidden in mystery, but also there are many questions which have not been answered yet including why so many of them collapsed and this growing civilization had been abandoned.
The statues stand still, seemingly unabashed by history and changes of the times, they look full of indifference and understanding. The mystery of Rapa Nui further enhances the attraction of this place.
The closer you get to Rano Raraku Crater, you will see dozens of dark gray statues. All the Moai statues on the island have been carved out of stone from this crater. This is also the Moai graveyard with the remains of dozens of unfinished sculptures which still scatter around the inactive volcano. Some of them are only half-carved and still attached to the stone of the top of the mountain. You will also see Ko Te Tokanga here, the largest Moai found on Rapa Nui, 22 meters high and weighing about 220 tons.
Ahu Tongariki is the name of a stage or an altar built for Moai, supporting 15 sculptures of different sizes. These statues were restored from 1992 to 1995 after a devastating tsunami collapsed most of the original structure, pulling the statues into the mainland 500 meters.
Most people believe that Moai statues are carved for religious reasons, and wealthy families can pay to set up their own customized sculptures. How the statues are transported to their final points is unknown, with many speculations about everything, from using logs to the labor of animals, etc.
By: Joe Cook