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4 April 2010

See a statue from Easter Island

Your author wanted to do an Easter idea today. So, let's look at the Moai, the monolithic statues carved from the volcanic basalt of Easter Island, Chile. Nobody knows that much about them but they were possibly carved to commemorate important ancestors, at some point between 1000 AD and the second half of the 17th century. Luckily for us, we don't have to travel to one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands to see one. There's one in the British Museum.

The statue was 'acquired' by the crew of the HMS Topaze, under the command of Richard Ashmore Powell, who visited Easter Island in 1868. The Islanders and the crew moved the statue, which had been in a stone house at the ritual centre of Orongo, and is estimated to weigh around four tons. It was taken to the beach and floated out to the HMS Topaze on a raft.

The Moai is named Hoa Hakananai'a, which is its original name, and is thought to mean 'stolen or hidden friend'. There is also another, smaller statue, known as Moai Hava, which is also in the collections of the British Museum. It was originally painted red and white, but the pigment washed off in the sea.

Hoa Hakananai'a is on display in Room 24 of the British Museum, accessible on the opposite side of the Great Court from the main entrance. It is free to visit Room 24. For more, see http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aoa/h/hoa_hakananaia.aspx

^Picture by Darren Copley^


  1. I've seen him! Sadly didn't take the time to read where he was from just took pictures, but that's cool as I want to go to Easter Island.

  2. Cool. It's amazing how many things they have in there.