Monday, September 22, 2014

Moai. Easter Island Pre-15th Century CE

Initial Reaction

When I first saw this picture in Art Beyond the West I noticed that these figures seemed very old. In the photo these figures looked stoic and their facial features look detailed compared to their bodies. Their facial features look like they have been enlarged.  These figures look like they are made of some sort of stone. These structures look weathered from many years of being out in the wind and rain. When I looked a little closer at their faces they seemed to be frowning and the eyes were very profound. I also noticed that some of these figures had similar faces and features.

After Research 

Around 1000 CE, the Easter Island natives began constructing these half figures on stone platforms on the hillside of the island. These structures represent the ancestors/ chiefs that guarded the villages and ceremonial places on the island. They were used for rituals, and scriptures were set in the platforms. When construction stopped a lot of these structures collapsed. These Moai were carved from a yellowish brown coarse tufa that was found in the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. Only 1000 of these have survived including many that were never finished. Over time their features became more elongated. The newest ones have small foreheads, massive brows, long faces and strong pointed chins. They cut these figures out of the volcano after they were carved and were dragged on rollers from the crater of the volcano. The pathways are still visible today.

Riley, Michael."The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, The Pacific, Africa, and The Americas, 223-224. Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006

Photo Credit: Mary Madigan 

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