Mana move the Moai

Posted by  Daniël Cronk   in       9 years ago     1015 Views     Comments Off on Mana move the Moai  

The last few days on Rapa Nui were spent trying to discover the answers to my questions:
1) why were the moai created and
2) how were they transported across the island.

Sunset at Ahu Ko Te Riku

The first part of the question was easily answered, in that, they were ceremonial locations for the dead kings. Once the king/chief passed away they would remove the head and bury it on the ahu. At this point they would begin to create the Moai at the quarry, in a likeness of the king. It would then be erected on the ahu over the buried skull. A little disturbing if you ask me. Now the more difficult question to have answered was, how were they transported. No one really knows. There are a number of theories, one of which revolves around the use of the trees on the island. It is believed that they would carve the moai out of the stone at the moai quarry, located at Rano Raraku, and transport them face down on a "sled'. This "sled" was then pulled across trees which were cut down. This type of transport would at least substantiate the reason why there were no trees left on the island by the end of the 19th century. Even today, there are very few trees outside of the town of Hanga Roa. Another theory is that the moai were kept in their upright and locked positions and the people used mana (think, moai chi) to "walk" the moai across the island to its platform (ahu).

Moai Down, Moai Down, call 9-1-1

Panoramic shot of Ahu Tongariki - the largest ahu on the island

A visit to the Moai quarry, or more often referred to as "the nursery" was very interesting. It is eery to walk along the hill side of the extinct volcano and see the moai just popping out of the ground like daisy's. The Moai would be carved from the stone of the mountain, usually on it's back until the very end. Then it would be separated from the mountain and placed in an upright position so that the back could be completed. At this point it would begin its journey across the island, sometimes as much as 12 km, to be placed upon its ahu. It is believed that there are still some 320 moai's left on Rano Raraku in various stages of "gestation". It is also believed that the Moai's were mostly completed at the quarry, however, were not completely finished until they were erected upon the ahu. At which point, they were given "eyes," made of white coral & obsidian or red volcanic scoria. Many of the moai also received pukao, which are the structures erected on top of their heads. Not all moai had these pukao's and it is theorized that they were either meant to symbolize the style of the hair during the time of the moai cult or hats. Go figure. Hair or hats.

The quarry at Rano Raraku, with bad lighting ;-(

The birth of a Moai (pano)

The Moai popping up like daisy's at Rano Raraku

Te Pito Te Henua, The navel of the earth - where the Rapanui people would go to recharge their "mana".

The best news though is that after 6 days of being lost, my baggage finally arrived. I spent half a day skypeing with United Airlines and then walking back and forth from the airport on Easter Island. United Airlines was able to confirm the baggage had arrived in Santiago, however, while at the airport they could not see anything, other than the claim had been closed - yet they did not have my luggage. Finally, I walked back to the office in town and asked them to give me the number of the baggage area. The guy called the Santiago office to get me the number, but in the end just asked them a bunch of questions for me. At the end of what must have been a good 30 minute conversation, as he hung up, said that my luggage would arrive at Easter Island "tomorrow." And finally it did, after 6 days I finally had more clean clothes.

Rongo Rongo Tablet - what does it mean? no one knows. No one has been able to decipher the glyphs.

Wooden statue

Feliz Navidad on Rapa Nui

The time on the island was slow paced but I think I saw everything I wanted to see. The weather was really quite pleasant with the exception of 2 days that had rain or not optimal weather. The only thing about Easter Island was that it was so expensive.

Departing Easter Island heading back to Santiago (LAN Airlines B767)

Monday night I flew back to Santiago and spent another night my my friends Rodrigo & Eliseo. On Tuesday I ended up taking a nice city tour (a hop on, hop off bus style) of Santiago. The ride, non-stop, takes about 2-hours and costs about 19,000 pesos (about $37).

Jeanette & her boyfriend, Eliseo, Rodrigo and Daniël

Since the beginning of this trip I have already flown, 13,296 miles and this morning (at 12:45 am) I boarded my final airplane for a while and flew to the very southern most reaches of the earth, well, almost. I landed at Punta Arenas, the 2nd most southern city in the world and caught a bus to the small town of Puerto Natales. The ride from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales (about 3 hours) is very interesting. There isn't really much to see along the way, but its the desolation that is the most interesting. Not a single tree could be seen for the first 2 hours or so, just some sheep and bushes. Puerto Natales is the jumping off point for visiting the Torres del Paine National Park, where I will be hiking solo for the next 5 or 6 days. I spent the rest of the afternoon preparing. I attended a great information seminar on the park and the hiking/camping/weather/transport/etc that is hosted by Erratic Rock, a local company. I plan to begin hiking on Friday and will not return back to Puerto Natales until the 27th or 28th. It really depends. There's a part of the park that is newer that I may go to, as its supposed to have superb views of the Torres del Paine Massif; but it also adds on an extra day of hiking. We'll see. I have all day tomorrow to think about it.

A view of Seno Ultima Esperanza in Puerto Natales

Radio silence begins Friday at 7:30 in the morning.. Until then preparations are being completed for the W+ trek of Torres del Paine National Park.


I am very passionate about traveling. My goal is to visit as many places and experience as many things as I can during my short journey on this earth.