Moai - stone statues of Easter Island (CC Frank Kehren).

Moai are large stone statues found on Chile’s Easter Island. The statues were carved by the Rapa Nui people. The Moai are stone figures of these Polynesian people.

Photo: the Moai are large stone statues found on Easter Island (Creative Commons: Frank Kehren).

Moai and the Rapa Nui People

The Rapa Nui carved these giant figurines as early as 1200 AD. Hundreds of statues were constructed at a stone quarry and transported across the island. Each statue represents an ancestor who is a diety that protected the people. Most of the statues look inland as if they were watching over the Rapa Nui.

The statues are up to 10 meters tall and weigh over 80 tons. Today, it is still a mystery as to how the Moai were transported. One theory suggests that they were rolled on logs pulled by over 100 people. The oral history of the people describe how the statues were made to walk on their own to new locations.

The Decline of the Rapa Nui

In the 1700’s all of the Moai were knocked over. At about this time, the island is thought to have become deforested. As a result of the loss of food, the population began to fight over limited resources. Rival clans knocked over the statues of their opponents.

In addition to deforestation, the slave trade contributed to the decline of Rapa Nui society.

Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills

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