THE ANCESTORS OF EASTER ISLAND


The Moai of Easter Island represent the Ancestors of the Rapa Nui. Monolithic and minimalist in form, these statues weigh approximately 12.5 tonnes each. Various theories exist as to how they were transported across the island, the most appealing being the idea that through the use of ropes and balanced movement these statues quite literally ‘walked’ from Rano Raraku, the quarry in which they were made, to their standing positions mostly along the coast. Surprisingly nearly all of the Moai turn their backs on the sea to protect the land, making evening photography challenging against the massive skies and brightly lit horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Long shadows thrown by the strong figure/ground presence of the Moai engage the ancestors with the land and platform upon which they sit. Many of the statues were toppled following first Western contact by the Dutch in 1722; contrary to the simplistic view that the Rapa Nui felled their last tree, the history of Easter Island is far more complex and deserves our attention as an allegory of a small island of abundance hidden in, as the Rapa Nui would have seen it, the wider cosmos.