The Easter Island heads, or Moai, are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500. Thought to be symbols of authority and power, but also repositories of sacred spirits for the Rapa Nui people’s ancestors, the Moai are carved from tuff (compressed volcanic ash), and occasionally the igneous rocks the island is made of such as basalt, taking a team or 5 or 6 people around a year to complete, the tallest of which being 10m high and weighing 82 tonnes. Despite being called ‘Heads’, the Moai are actually full-body statues, minus legs, but many have been buried up to the head on the slopes of the volcano, hiding the torso and the markings on them. However, the head does generally take up two thirds of the size. The statues are also intended to hold eyes made of coral with obsidian pupils.
It is unknown exactly how the Moai were transported once carved, originally it was thought the heads were put on wooden sledges or rollers and moved by pulling or rolling these, but it is now thought that rope was attached to two sides, while upright, and the head was ‘walked’ by tilting from one side to the other whilst swivelling forward, with a chant being performed which helped with coordinating the rhythm of the walk. Many Moai were moved to stone platforms and faced inland, though some are free-standing or even toppled. More than 11 however have been removed from the island and transferred between private collections and museums for preservation, research, or public education. In 2008 a Finnish tourist chipped off an ear and took it, but was later fined $17,000 and banned from the island for three years.
At Samax we have our own replica Easter Island heads, perfect for inside or outside (frost-proof). They come in 4 sizes between 30cm to 76cm high, and starting at £9.99.