enigmatic giant stone sentinels of Easter Island are the only ones
who know the reason why the original inhabitants of Rapa Nui (Easter
Island) were obsessed with carving the massive Moai (images of man)
and destroying the ecological balance of the island in the process
consists of a head and full torso. Some are fortunate to be adorned
with a 'pukao' (believed to resemble a topknot). The 15 Moai pictured
here stand on the altar (or 'ahu') known as Ahu Tongariki. The
moai range in weight from about 8-15 tons and moving/erecting
them is one of the many mysteries on the island.
When the island
was discovered by Dutch Admiral Jacob Roggeveen in 1722, most
of the Moai had been toppled - believed to be a result of a civil
war on the island. The Moai at Tongariki were not among them,
that is until 1960 when a freak tidal wave washed each of them
off the altar.
The Moai at
Tongariki had been re-erected shortly before I arrived the first
time in 1999. The Japanese government shipped over a crane to
perform the task; the gesture was to repay the 'borrowing' of
a Moai which had been taken to Japan on a ship many years before.
The restoration of these Moai took 5 years