Moai Statues

The Moai Statues are monolithic human figures which are carved by the Rapa Nui people, and are located in eastern Polynesia, on Easter Island, today part of Chile.

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They are one of the world’s most famous yet least visited archaeological sites, since they are located on the most remote inhabited island in the world. The Moai Statues were carved out of the volcanic rock which can be found on the island, having different height and weight, where the tallest is up to 12 meters (40 feet) and weighting around 75 tons.

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There are in total so far, 887 statues, out of which 53 were carved from tuff which is a compressed volcanic ash. There are 394 left still visible today, and some of them are incomplete. 13 statues are carved from basalt, 22 from trachyte, and 177 from fragile red scoria.

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Even though they are most known for its heads, the bodies are too carved out, but they are disproportionate, the heads being much larger and having large broad noses and strong chins.

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Some archaeologists suggest that the Moai Statues were the symbol of religious and political authority and power, but most likely to the people who erected them, they were merely repositories of sacred spirit. Nevertheless, the bigger the statue is, the more mana the chief who commissioned it had.

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So, the smaller the statue, the older it is. It is not known exactly how the moai were moved across the island, but the process almost certainly required human energy, ropes, and possibly wooden sledges and/or rollers, as well as leveled tracks across the island.

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Still today nobody can give a clear answer how they were exactly carved, and how they were moved around the island, yet, they are protected by UNESCO since 1994. Also it is forbidden to step on the Moai, as well as chipping off parts of the statues.

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In 2008 a Finish tourist chipped a piece off the ear on one moai, who later was fined $17,000 and banned for three years. This is a case that should make example how important the statues are for the history they have been through, and the people who made them.

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