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date: 22 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Easter Island is known for its giant, stereotyped stone statues, distributed along the coasts and originally visible from out at sea. Most are associated with cult monuments and the unique sanctuary where they were carved. More discreetly, the islanders’ houses were inhabited by a host of wooden figurines, in a variety of forms, carved in sacred types of wood: toromiro, makoi, driftwood. These depictions of men (moai tangata, moai kavakava), women (moai papa), animals, and real chimeras (moko, bird-man) were the subject of domestic cults and used in activities linked to protective or aggressive magic. Displayed during public ceremonies, they were associated with the insignia of power (ao, ua) and with dance accessories (rapa, tahonga). The production of figurines, introduced to the island by its first inhabitants a little less than 1,000 years ago, ceased with the disappearance of the priest-sculptors after 1863 and the conversion to Catholicism in 1868.

Keywords: Easter Island, moai tangata, moai papa, moai kavakava, moko, bird-man, ua, ao, rapa, tahonga, toromiro

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