The Moai sculptures found in the Easter Island, on the Chilean coast, were carved by a mysterious sculptor population, the Rapa Nui. They are monoliths carved in rock with a human shape.
It still is a great mystery how these impressive monoliths got from Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, all the way to the coast, but some archaeologists have an interesting theory about how they could have been transported: it’s called “walking”, and it was made by alternatively being pulled by one side to another and moved slowly to the place of display.
You can watch it in detail here:
The sculptor carved the Moai in a relatively flat shape, with a very big head compared to the small torso. Although most of them are full body sculptures, most of us refer to them as “Easter Island Heads”
The Moai were carved at the quarry at Rano Raraku. At first, they were outlined in the rock wall with chips chiseled away until it was only held by a small line. Most of them were made of tuff, but some of them are also made of basalt, trachyte or fragile red scoria. To finish it, the sculptor would rub it with pumice stone.
A complete sculptor would not be considered complete if he would let his sculptures without a final little touch: many Moai have separate carved hats, which look pretty fancy:
Because of the erosion, it’s hard to see a smooth surface, but we can still see the sculptor’s mastery in finishing the statues on a few basalt ones or in photographs. A few statues were also painted. The artist would have decorated them with brown and white paint; one specimen can be seen today in the British museum, London.
All we know about the sculptors is that they were of the Rapa Nui people, a native Easter Island population which slowly disappeared with the reduction of food resources when growing in numbers.Thus, they deserted these impressive Moai statues and left for a better place to live in, still unkown to us today.
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