MOAI KAVA KAVA WOODEN FIGURE – Easter Island Rapa Nui – 19th C
Easter Island is the most geographically remote of all Polynesia and was first settled around 700-900AD by voyages from Central Polynesia or the Marqueses. Thor Heyerdahl famously proposed an American origin for Easter Islanders and their culture, but he failed to convince most of the ethnologists of the 1950’s of the plausibility of his claims.
The first European to visit the Island was the Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen who landed on Easter Day in 1722 thereby giving the Island its name. Known locally as Rapa Nui the Island’s people became celebrated for their carving in a species of mimosa ‘toromiro’ wood. Figures and dance paddles first collected Captain Cook on his second voyage in 1774 developed stylistically during the following decades when metal tools allowed mire refined and precise work. It is thought that the figures were worn as pendants around the neck and danced with at cereminial and ritual feasts. They then would be hung from the house rafters when not in use. The figures may portray the cadavers of deceased important ancestors rather than the bodies of starved and emaciated men.
wood, shell, obsidian, fish bone