The Polynesian dialect calls it as Rapa Nui, while the Spanish says it as Isla de Pascua – this is the Easter Island that is a mysterious land of many giant statues. These are rightly called as the Easter Island heads as their faces are comparatively long as compared to their bodies without legs together rendering them colossal in size. Made from sole big stones, these astounding carvings are scattered throughout the island, simply resulting in pulling several million visitors throughout the year.
Situated at 2200 miles from Chile in the South Pacific, the island is shrouded in mystery due to these bizarre colossal statues that are named as Moai whose purpose is not known yet. It is believed that these monumental figurines overlooking the sea are the offerings made by the locals to their ancestors. These are the traditional Rapanui people who first settled here in Anakena, somewhere between 700 and 1,100 CE. Anakena is today famous among the tourists as well, which is the suitable spot for landing on the island where your catamarans as well as canoes disembark safely against the violent waves. Coming back to the Rapa Nui people, they were one of the magical artists and were also very religious – all this is evident from the Eastern Island heads.
Why named Easter?
In 1722, a Dutch traveler first saw the island on the sacred day of Easter and so the island got the same name.
About the island and heads
The Easter Island, between Tahiti and Chile, is the remotest island on the planet, which is surprisingly populated. This is evident from the fact that the nearest land to be populated is the Pitcairn Island at 1,290 miles. The island boats a triangular shape and is among the youngest volcanic formations stretching up to 64 square miles. Formed by volcanic eruption and flanked by not so surprising three dormant volcanoes, Easter itself is giant volcano surrounded by green foliage full of animals and birds, now extinct because of cutting and constructions. One of the factors responsible for this is the Easter Island heads – the tight-lipped mammoth statues hold by this small island since 10th to 16th centuries.
The Easter Island heads were previously tucked on wide stone platforms called Ahu flanking the perimeter. Today, over 200 such platforms can be seen as spaced at an interval of 1.5 miles to hold uninterruptedly more than 600 statues reflecting the different completion phases. Many of them are seen today in quarries or between them on the ancient roads or by the coast. No matter where you see them, each of the statues was carved via the hard stone – a part of the Rano Raraku volcano. By average, the Maoi statue is over 14 feet high as well as 14 tons in weight, but the largest ones are 33 to 65 feet high and more than 80 to 270 tons in weight. Considering this, it is easy to conclude that 50 to 150 workers were required just in transporting them on rollers made from the surrounding trees.
Significance of the heads
The Easter Island heads show a lot about the traditions as well as beliefs of the Rap Nui folks who assumed that a mutual symbolic link exists of the living with its relatively dead. This means that the living being will make offerings to the dead for its secured place in the world of spirits, whereas the deceased shall instantly satisfy all the living’s desires. It is this assumption that has played the major role in erecting these giants representing the ancestors. In addition, the belief is also experienced in their poses: front towards the island for guarding, whereas the back facing the sea to live in the sacred world of spirits.
Sites of heads
On the mountain of Rano Raraku whose stones played a role of the main ingredient in making these heads
Ahu Tongariki holding a military line of the 15 statues
Ahu Tahai around a round beach stones holding the ceremonial platform with the earliest Ahu giants
Best time to visit
March, April, October, and November via the Chilean carrier from Santiago as well as Chile.
Camping at Anakena
Do carry a lot of water as well as food.