Easter Island and Its Mysteries






Cover. Map of the Pacific Ocean from 1588. Easter Island has been added in the style of the decorations that were typical of maps at that time.

Figure A. The Queen of Easter Island meets Pinart in 1877. Notice the facial features of the women and compare them to those in Figures 103 and 104. From Pinart, A Trip around the World.

Figure B. Natives and officers of the Durance on August 1, 1901, in the courtyard of the mission after disembarkation at Hanga Roa. Photograph by Delabaude. Notice that the physical characteristics and facial features are the same as in Figure A.

Figure C. Some details of the heads of the giant stone statues (see text).

Figure D. Images from Easter Island (1a, 2a, 3a. 4a. 5a and 8), the Solomon Islands (1 through 7, 11 through 15), and New Guinea that show certain similarities.

Plate I, Figure 1. Map from A Voyage in Pictures around the World by Dumont d’Urville (1834) showing the location of Easter Island in relation to Chile, the Pomotou Islands and the Society Islands.

Plate I, Figure 2. Photograph of the third map, drawn in 1770 by Aguera, a Spanish officer on the warship San Lorenzo, which, accompanied by the frigate Santa Rosalia, was sent by Dom Manuel de Amat y de Junyent, the viceroy of Peru, to explore Easter Island, known as Davis Island, and to study the natives. The San Lorenzo was under the command of Gonzáles de Haedo who called the island San Carlos Island. The map includes three crosses that were erected, on three small hills, by Gonzáles, to signify a claim to the island. The numbers around the island indicate the depth of the water, calculated in units (fathoms) of six Castilian feet. The scale indicates one nautical mile (Archivo de India, Seville).

Plate II, Figure 3. The map drawn by the officers of the corvette O’Higgins, in January 1870. The map was drawn from nature by Delabaude. This map shows the division of the island into districts and the dotted line indicates the route taken by the officers of the Durance.

Plate II, Figure 4. Map of Easter Island by Pinart in a report that was published in A Trip around the World. This map was based by Pinart on the map drawn by the officers of the O’Higgins, in January 1870, of which a copy can be found in the Tahiti Museum.

Plate III, Figure 5. Islanders and monuments on Easter Island. Pencil drawing from nature, April 9 1786, by the artist Duché de Vancy, who accompanied La Pérouse on his voyage around the world. The original drawing, in the archives of the Marine Library, is reproduced here for the first time, thanks to the kindness of Commander Vivielle, curator of the museum. A lithograph, based on this drawing but with some modifications, was published in the Atlas of La Pérouse’s Voyage around the World in 1797, and it is this lithograph that has been reproduced so frequently to date. Notice the facial features of the natives and, in particular, of the women. Similar features are found in later illustrations by other artists. Note to the boat-shaped head covering made of hibiscus twine (anu) that can also be seen in Figures 7, 14 and 19. The depiction of the statue on the pakeopa, with its hat (pukao) on top, is infinitely more accurate that that in Figure 33.

Plate IV, Figure 6 and Figure 7. A man and a woman from Easter Island, drawn by Hodges in 1777 from Maps and Pictures from Cook’s Third Voyage, volume 1, which was translated into French and published in Paris in 1785. Note the man’s headdress made of rooster feathers and the extended ear lobes, as well as the woman’s boat-shaped headdress and “oval” pendant (see also Figures 14 and 92).

Plate V, Figure 8 and Figure 9. A man and a woman from Easter Island. From Voyage in Pictures to Four Corners of the Earth by J. G. St. Sauveur — or third edition of the Encyclopedia of Voyages published in Paris in 1806. These two pictures are basically fantasies. The only thing that is drawn with approximate accuracy is the man’s head with his headdress and elongated ear lobes. The clothes of the woman are incorrect, as are those of the child and all the lower appurtenances of the man (including the club).

Plate V, Figure 10. Different types of headdress made of black rooster feathers and worn, long ago, by the islanders; taken from Thomson:

   a) Headdress for dancing (hau pau ten ki);

   b) Headdress for war (hau hau kura kura);

   c) Headdress for competitions (hau vana vana);

   d) Headdress for a wedding (hau vaero);

   e) Traditional headdress of the chiefs known as ariki (hau hie hie). Note that there was also a type called hau-tara, which could be used for all ceremonies. The interior diameter of the headdress is about 42 and the total diameter is 98 [centimeters? no units are provided]. See also Figures 5, 6, 8, 10 and 15).

Plate VI, Figure 11 and Figure 12. A man and a woman from Easter Island, drawn by Radiguet and taken from Voyage around the World on the Frigate Venus (Paris 1841) by Dupetit-Thouars. Note the headdress of the man, which resembles that in the watercolor by Loti that was painted thirty years later (Figure 15); the non-painted skin of the man (face and torso) and of the woman (inner sides of both thighs); the tattoos on the woman’s hands; and the woman’s basket, which is similar to that in Figure 17. The unpainted parts of the woman’s thighs are seen, similarly, in Figure 17. By contrast, they were misunderstood by the lithographer who produced Figure 16 to such an extent that he actually drew them as a kind of diaper, which can be seen on the woman on the left, the one that is lying down and the one in the background.

Plate VII, Figure 13. Natives of Easter Island from a lithograph that was drawn and prepared by Choris, an artist who accompanied Admiral Kotzebüe on a voyage around the world on the Rurick. The head of the woman resembles those in Figures 14, 16 and 17. Note the tattoos on the man. This picture and the watercolor by Loti (Figure 15) are the only ones to show such tattoos. Published in Voyage in Pictures around the World in Paris in 1822.

Plate VIII, Figure 14. A woman from Easter Island (or Davis Land) in the South Seas, taken from an illustration by Theodorum Viero Venetus in the Italian edition of Cook’s voyages. The head and the pendant are similar to those in Figures 7 and 92.

Plate IX, Figure 15. Watercolor dedicated to Mrs. Sarah Bernhardt by Viaud (Loti). The

legend reads, “Easter Island on January 7, 1872, at around five o’clock in the morning: the islanders watching my arrival”. Note the giant statues; the skulls; the ua (club topped with a double human head; Figures 95 and 103); the tattoos on the skin (colored red with hiko kura 422 powder and dark blue with the calcinated product dried and pulverized of ti leaves); and the hairstyles of the islanders (some of them have their hair tied in a red topknot, as in Figure 12, and the others have a headdress of rooster feathers as in Figure 10). Reproduction of this previously unpublished illustration was graciously permitted by Samuel Viaud. In the luxury edition of this present work, the watercolor is printed, actual size, in its true colors with such accuracy that each copy is identical to the original.

Plate X, Figure 16. An illustration from Voyage of La Pérouse around the World by La Pérouse. The legend reads, “While the women of Easter Island pestered the soldiers and sailors, the men stole their handkerchiefs and their hats” 423. Note how thin the natives are and the concave bellies of most of the natives, particularly the native who is stealing the handkerchief from the soldier in the three-cornered hat, as well as the “diapers” on the women, which are an inaccurate representation of their untattooed inner thighs (see also legends to Figures 11 and 12).

Plate X, Figure 17. A drawing by Masselot, which appeared in Atlas in Pictures of the Voyage around the World of the frigate Venus, 1830 - 1839 by Dupetit-Thouars. Published in Paris in 1846. The title of the illustration is ‘Hopping dance (hagana) of the natives of Easter Island”. Note the head of the woman on the left and compare it with Figures 5, 7, 11, 13 and 14; and the non-pigmented areas of skin of the woman on the left and the basket of the woman on the right.

Plate XI, Figure 18. Drawing by Choris from the same book as Figure 17, showing two types of Easter Island canoe made of driftwood. One is a “sewn” canoe with an outrigger and one is the same type of canoe without such an outrigger. An oar and a paddle with a human head are also shown.

Plate XI, Figure 19. Canoes (vaka) from Easter Island. An original drawing by Blondela, from the Library of Lithographic Services of the Navy, which was included in the Atlas of La Pérouse’s voyage. Published thanks to the kindness of Commander Vivielle. Note the “sewn” canoe, the outrigger, the unusual oar that the woman is holding and her boat-shaped hat made of plaited reeds or hibiscus fibers. This type of hat was called ahauponno, ahaupouo, hanu-pouo, or anu 424. The same type of hat can be seen in Figures 8 and 10.

Plate XII, Figures 20, Figure21, Figure 22, Figure 23, Figure 24, Figure 25, Figure 26, and Figure 28. Skulls of ancient inhabitants of Easter Island from (20 and 22) the Smithsonian Institution, (21) Routledge, (25) Lafaille Museum in La Rochelle (brought back by Delabaude), (23 and 24) the same museum, and (26) from Thomson. Some of these skulls have no engraving (23 and 24), while the others are decorated with geometric or zoomorphic designs (such skulls were known as paoko-Iu) 425. If we compare the skull that is photographed in profile in Figure 25 and from the front in Figure 24, which resembles osteologically the skulls in Figures 20, 21 and 22 (with the only difference being that it retains the lower jaw), with, for example, the skull in Figure 23, which is the skull of a Marquesas Islander, it is easy to see that the ancient Easter Islanders, who belonged to a different race from the maoris, had a skull that was much longer, with very developed maxillary bones and a very protruding lower jaw, all of which give it a certain acromegalic look. Comparison with Figure 28 (which shows the Easter Islander “Te Haha” of the Miru Clan and is taken from Figure 213 in Routledge’s book) reveals what these skulls looked like when they had their teeth and were covered with skin and flesh. The skull in Figure 21, which comes from the Miru Clan, is decorated with a stylized manutara bird. The decoration on the skull in Figure 26 (on the left) shows the same bird in full flight, but even more stylized (a similar stylization can be found on the Solomon Islands). This same motif, repeated twice (forming a sort of “W”) can also be seen in Figure 20, carved over another antero-posterior decoration.

Plate XII, Figure 27. Successive photographs of the same individual at different ages, showing the progressive deformation that affected his facial features during the development of a hypophysial tumor. On the left, the subject is 21 years old and he appears absolutely normal. The tumor began to develop when he was 29 years old and to disturb the functions of this gland. His nose started to enlarge slightly as did his lips. In the third photograph, he is 37 years old and his features are already typical: his nose is very much enlarged; his jawbone is accentuated; his lips have enlarged transversally and thickened; and his chin is even more prominent. Finally, when he was 42 years old, all these features were even more apparent and his face was typical of an acromegalic (compare him with the man in Figure 28), according to H. Cushing.

Plate XIII, Figure 29. Diagrams of various types of dwelling on Vaïhou Island, published in Atlas of the Voyage of La Pérouse. Figure 8 shows a diagram of Moraï 426; Figure 9 shows the elevation of this Moraï (or ahu or pakeopa) on which there are giant statues with red stone hats 427. Figure 10 shows the same Morai in cross section. Figures 5, 6 and 7 show details of a dwelling in the form of an overturned canoe (plan, elevation and cross section, respectively). Figures 1, 2 and 4 show a stone watchtower, called a tupa. The lower part of Figure 1 and Figure 3 show an underground dwelling and Figures 1 and 3 also show a Polynesian-type oven [labeled “four” — the French for oven].

Plate XIV, Figure 30. Plate taken from Voyage in Pictures around the World by Dumont d’Urville. A large dwelling in the shape of an upturned canoe is shown above the plan of a watchtower and a watchtower, as well as an underground dwelling.

Plate XIV, Figure 31. Ancient stone houses at Orongo (see also Figure 62), in which Thomson found the flat, decorated stones shown in Figure 68; taken from Thomson.

Plate XV, Figure 32. Drawing by Choris showing a view of Easter Island at the site where the Russian ship, Rurick, under the command of Kotzebüe, tried to land. On the shore, there are many natives, as well as a stone watchtower.

Plate XVI, Figure 33. Drawing by Hodges from Voyage around the South Pole by Cook. There are two large stone statues (moai) of the type found on pakeopa. One of them has a large stone hat known as a pukao. There are scattered bones and a skull in the foreground. As Figures 5 and 36 through 42 demonstrate, this picture is not accurate. Routledge suggested that it might have been drawn from memory.

Plate XVII, Figure 34. Photograph of the pakeopa (or ahu) at Tongariki from the book by Thomson. Note the fallen statues on the inner slope of the monument.

Plate XVII, Figure 35. Photograph of the same pakeopa, taken from the other side, namely, from the shore, taken by Delabaude. The bases of the fallen statues are visible at the top of the pakeopa and the silhouette of the Rano Raraku crater is in the background. In the foreground, the officers of the Durance are having lunch.

Plate XVII, Figure 36. Schematic reconstruction of the pakeopa in Opulu, before the statues had been tipped over. This drawing was made by de Bar and is based on a sketch by Pinart in Trip around the World. Notice the decorations (petroglyphs) on the stone slabs and the carving on the foreheads and hats of the statues.

Plate XVIII, Figure 37. Sepia drawing by Loti (made during his visit in January 1892), showing an ahu of the type known as pakeopa, located at the seashore and topped with four giant statues. Note that the resemblance of these statues to the one in Figures 38 and 39 is complete. This drawing has not previously been published and is presented here thanks to the kindness of Monsieur S. Viaud.

Plate XVIII and Plate XIX, Figure 38 and Figure 39. The statue from Anakena that was taken by Thomson (on the Mohican) and is now in Washington. This statue, which is approximately 1.6 meters tall, is the only statue in any museum that still has its characteristic red sandstone [sic] hat. Note the carvings on the ears, the prominent jaw (which has not previously been noted), and the details on the neck and hands.

Plate XIX, Figure 40. Monumental head (1.8 meters tall) of a statue from an ahu in Orongo. This head, made of trachytic volcanic rock, was severed from its body in January 1872 by a team of sailors, led by Loti, who was then a midshipman on the La Flore, commanded by Admiral de Lappelin, chief of the Pacific Division of the French Navy. The head was taken on board at Hanga Roa, while the body and the hat were left at Orongo. The head was brought back to France and exhibited, initially, from 1872 to 1929, in the mineralogy section of the Museum [?]. Then it was taken, in 1930, to the Trocadéro Museum. Note, again, the prominent chin, which has not previously been noted.

Plate XX, Figure 43. Drawing by de Bar, based on a sketch by Pinart, showing part of the interior southeast slope of the Rano Roraku crater (also spelled Ranororaka, Ranoraraka, and even, by some, Rano Raraku) and the camp of the officers from the Seignelay, on Easter Sunday 1877. This view and the one in Figure 47, which shows the entire crater, were the first ever to appear that allowed Europeans to get some idea of this site on Easter Island. But, even if they give an inkling of the magnificent features of the site, they are, by contrast, less accurate than photographs (Figures 48 through 50). Nevertheless, in Figure 43, the artist manages, ingeniously, to show at the same site, on a ledge, the different stages of construction of the statues. On the left, there are three completed statues that are standing in place; near the sailor who is standing by himself, there is a statue in the process of being carved, with its face already carved and the rest awaiting completion. At the back of the cave, there are two statues at a similar stage. On the right of the cave, there is a statue that is fully carved but remains to be detached from the rock. In the foreground, a completed statue is lying on the ground, ready to be transported and erected. These various stages demonstrate how the Easter Islanders carved, removed and transported [!] their monumental stone statues.

Plate XX, Figure 44 and Figure 45. Monumental statues inside the Rano Raraku crater (southeast slope), drawn in profile by de Bar on the basis of sketches by Pinart.

Plate XX, Figure 46. Photograph of the same statues (by Gauthier, Tahiti).

Plate XXI, Figure 47. General view of the interior of the Rano Raraku crater by Pinart, as interpreted by de Bar. It is interesting to compare this drawing with the photographs in Figures 48 though 52 and the diagram in Figure 55. One can see that the lithographer romanticized the sketches that he was given and which were, perhaps, as accurate as the drawings in Figures 53 and 54, whose accuracy is confirmed by the photographs in Figures 50 through 52.

Plate XXI, Figure 48. General view of Rano Raraku crater by Bienvenido de Estella (in My Voyage to Easter Island). This photograph clearly shows the small lake, surrounded by reeds. Note that in the Rapanui language, rano means “a hole with water in it” 428, which proves that, when the first settlers named the crater upon their arrival on the island, the volcano was already extinct. Monumental statues can be seen high up and on the left.

Plate XXI, Figure 49. Photograph of part of the crater, taken by Delabaude in 1901. On the right, one can see part of the lake that fills the bottom of the crater; monumental statues are visible half way up the slope; and, in the foreground, held by an islander and a sailor, the horses used by the officers of the Durance for their visit to the crater. This photograph has not previously been published.

Plate XXII, Figure 50 and Figure 52. A group of giant statues, photographed by Delabaude. The horse in the center of Figure 50 and the riders in Figure 52 serve to demonstrate the enormous size of the statues. The same two groups of three statues, seen from the same angle, are shown in Figure 51, with each depiction providing confirmation of the accuracy of the other, as do Figures 52 and 53.

Plate XXII, Figure 51. Photograph by Bienvenido de Estella. On this photograph, taken from a little higher up and to the left of the site from which the photograph in Figure 50 was taken, shows the same groups of statues. The man on a horse allows us to appreciate the vast size of the statue beside him (it is the largest in this entire region of the island).

Plate XXIII, Figure 53. A beautiful sketch by Loti (January 1872), entitled, “On the slopes of Ranoraraku crater (Hutuiti)”. This previously unpublished picture is reproduced here thanks to the kindness of Monsieur S. Viaud. The drawing shows a group of four statues, which can be seen in the upper parts of the photographs in Figures 50 and 51, with the artist standing a little higher up and to the left of the site from which the photographs were taken. All these sketches and photographs, from different visits to the island at different times and by different people, are of interest because each confirms the accuracy of the other and, together, they prove that the earlier drawings (here as elsewhere) of facial features and other objects and places, made by the artists who accompanied the various expeditions, were drawn with considerable attention to accuracy and did not reflect fashion or convention.

Plate XXIII, Figure 54. Drawing that appeared in the report by Admiral de Lappelin (Maritime and Colonial Revue, 1872), showing part of the inner slope of the Rano Raraku crater. A native whose body is covered with tattoos is standing behind the largest statue (It is very likely that this sketch was drawn by Loti).

Plate XXIV, Figure 55. Panoramic view, with the lake inside the Rano Raraku crater in the foreground and the inner slope of the crater, with many giant statues, behind it. This drawing was made from a photograph taken by Routledge (Mystery of Easter Island) and the various statues are numbered, as are the sites on the rocky slope from which they were quarried.

Plate XXV. Figure 56 and Figure 57. Front and back views of the monumental statue in the British Museum, known as the “Breaker of Waves” (Hoa-Haka-Nana-Ia). It stood in a stone house (aua) [sic] in the village of Taurarango 429 (on the Rano Kau volcano) and, in 1868, it was brought down to the Topaze in Cook’s Bay (Hanga Roa Bay) by three hundred English sailors, with the help of two hundred islanders. The statue is remarkably well carved and is a little smaller than the statues on pakeopa and those at Rano Raraku (it is 2.3 meters high). The statue has retained all its details because it was sheltered from the elements. Notice, on its back, two birdmen, beak to beak, surmounted by a manutara bird, to the right and left of which there are three ao. There is a circle under the two birdmen, a triple belt and the letter M, which played an important role in the manu initiation ceremonies (they are also seen on the ancient hollow-bellied wooden statues known as moai [kavakava]). This statue is always called “Breaker of Waves” 430, as if it had, itself, some claim to this title. In fact, according to legend, it represents an ao [paddle], in particular, the most famous one, which was known for the ease with which it propelled its owner through the waves to the little island where the manutara laid their first eggs. This photograph is reproduced thanks to the kindness of the curators of the British Museum.

Plate XXVI, Figure 58. A bust in red andesite 431 from Easter Island (43 centimeters high). Note the carved lips that stand out and the careful treatment of the eyes. One can imagine that, long ago, the pupil and iris were represented by a circle of marine ivory with a polyhedron of obsidian in the center, both of which were inserted in a hole that was bordered on each side by two little segments of andesite to represent the sclera in the center of each orbit (see the eye in Figure 61, which was carved similarly). Note also the crease on the lower part of the neck that is similar to one in Figure 56 and, finally, at the front lower right, two hands that are rather difficult to make out because of wear and tear. Carved in ancient times, this sculpture was obtained by Commander Jouin of the La Flore and given to the Lafaille Museum in La Rochelle. This is the first photograph of this head to be published and it is shown here thanks to the kindness of the curator Dr. E. Loppé.

Plate XXVI, Figure 59. Statuette (one foot high) that was found by Routledge and is now in the Pitt-Rivers Museum in England. Note the two arms and, at the base of the unfinished statue, two protruding knees (the subject is sitting cross-legged, like a tailor).

Plate XXVI, Figure 60. Sculpted head in red volcanic stone (26 centimeters high and 15 centimeters wide). A gift from Telier; a statuette from the beginning of the European era; Trocadéro Museum, Paris.

Plate XXVI, Figure 61. Head made of gray lava; 43 centimeters high, weighing 8.95 kilograms, from ancient times. It was found in 1872 by Dr. Aaze and donated by him to the Museum of the Maritime Hospital of Rochefort-sur-Mer. Note the prominently carved eyebrows, the way in which the eyes are represented (see also legend to Figure 58); the crease under the cheek bone, and the mouth, which is carved differently from the mouth in Figure 58. All these features together suggest that, even though this piece is old, it is not as old as the piece in the museum in La Rochelle. This piece has never previously been photographed for publication and it is shown here thanks to special authorization from the Administration of the Maritime Hospital of Rochefort-sur-Mer.


Figure 61b [from the original Chauvet, page 50]. Bust in volcanic lava from the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXVII, Figure 62. General view of the rocks at Orongo, at the summit of the Rano Kau volcano (height, 1,300 feet; width of the crater, three to four miles [sic]). This volcanic crater falls away to the sea with an almost vertical cliff. At the top of this cliff, there are the famous rocks and, in two rows, about fifty stone houses (aua) 432, which were used during the ceremonies that led to the selection of the tangata manu. Painted slabs of stone, as shown in Figure 67, were found in these houses, as well as the statue in Figure 56.

Lower down and to the left, located one thousand feet lower than the houses at Orongo, there are the three little islands, surrounded by breaking waves, that played such a large role in the Bird Cult long ago, namely, Motu Nui, Motu Iti, and Motu Kao Kao. The islander who was able, either directly or through an intermediary or hopu, to obtain the first egg laid by the first bird was proclaimed the military chief of the island for one full year, the tangata manu. The cult of the birdman disappeared around 1868. The rocks around Orongo are covered with petroglyphs of geometric, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic design. They depict the frigate bird, the manutara, the birdman (tangata manu) etc. Routledge was able to find 111 representations of the birdman on these rocks 433 and she suggested that they might represent the successive tangata manu that ruled on the island (the Figure is taken from her book, in which it is Figure 103).

Plate XXVII, Figure 63. The rock that, in the previous Figure, is on the top left. It is shown here enlarged and it is covered with geometric designs and designs that are both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic: the head of the swallow called manutara, birdmen (tangata manu similar to those on the back of the statue in Figure 57) etc. This photograph was taken by Father Bienvenido de Estella, a member of the Chilean Capuchin Fathers.

Plate XXVII, Figure 64. Photograph showing, in still greater detail, the group of three birdmen (tangata manu) in Figures 62 and 63. The one on the left appears to be holding a manutara egg in his hand. Photograph by Thomson.

Plate XXVIII, Figure 65. Birdmen on the rocks at Orongo (Rano Kau). From H. C. Shapiro.

Plate XXVIII, Figure 66. A stone that was dug up in 1914 by S. Routledge at Orongo. It is 36.5 centimeters long and it is decorated with a carved and painted birdman (tangata manu), holding a manutara egg in his hand. This stone is in the British Museum and the photograph is from Routledge’s book.


Figure 66b [from the original Chauvet, page 38]. Manutara.

Plate XXVIII, Figure 67. Entrance to a cave at Orongo from which Commander B. F. Day removed the large red-painted stone slabs that can be seen in the picture. Reproduction of a plate in Thomson’s book.

Plate XXIX, Figure 68. Different types of decoration found by various authors, some in houses at Orongo and some elsewhere. Numbers 3, 16 and 18 show petroglyphs found by Roussel in a cave and reproduced by Jaussen; 2, 12 and 15 show decorations in a house at Orongo, copied from Weber; 7 shows a drawing on wood that is in the British Museum; 4, 5 8, 9, 12, 14, 17 and 19 show decorations from houses in Orongo that were reproduced by Thomson; 13 shows a large stone slab of the finest quality and in an excellent state of preservation, which was decorated in several colors and brought to Europe by Geiseler. Note that many of the decorations represent the manutara in full flight (5, 6, 8, 9 and 10). Designs 6, 10 and 11 were found by Routledge on rocks at Ana Kai Tangata. Also, note that the tangata manu are sometimes shown facing each other 434 and sometimes facing away from each other. In some cases, they are even fused to one another, forming what the natives called the “Bird with Four Legs” or “manu-avae-e-moha”[sic]. 18 shows a roua 435 or artist’s mark and represents a trident. Roua [sic] can be found on the hats on the monumental statues (pukao) and in quite large numbers on the Tarahei Rock 436, on which only the maori or wise men were allowed to sit. 16, which is also a roua [sic], is a stylized representation of the strident cry of the manutara. The circles of increasing diameter represent the loudness of the cry and the distance over which it can be heard. They suggest that the Easter Islanders were able somehow to intuit that the bird’s cry involved sound waves of a certain frequency!

Plate XXX, Figure 69. Double fishhook from Easter Island, taken from H. G. Beasley. (In his book, Evolution in Art, A. C. Haddon showed the different stages of transformation by the natives of the Torres Strait of a fishhook from a utilitarian object into an object that was more and more stylized and decorative.)

Plate XXX, Figure 70. A fishhook (matau rou) [sic] from Easter Island, made of polished stone (mugaï kihi) [sic]. It is shown actual size. It is made of very smooth, light-tobacco-colored stone with a slightly reddish patina in places (the color of the pigment with which the ancient islanders painted their bodies). This piece has beautiful proportions and is remarkable for the smoothness of its polished surface and the delicacy of the vertical and horizontal grooves. The fishhook is positioned to show the vertical groove on the inner face of the head. The grooves were designed so that the hook could be suspended from a cord. The hook is 5.5 centimeters high and 3.4 centimeters wide. The authenticity of this piece is not in doubt. It was found in 1875 in the tomb of an ahu by James Brander, who sold it in 1934 to Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXX, Figure 71. Fishhook in polished stone (mugaï kihi) 437. American Museum of Natural History, New York.


Figure 71b [from the original Chauvet, page 34]: Fishhook in polished stone from Pitcairn Island, now in the Otago Museum.

Plate XXX, Figure 72. Fishhook in polished stone, collected by Thomson.

Plate XXX, Figure 73. Ancient fishhook made of human bone (mugaï-iri) 438. The hook was made in two pieces and the cord holding them together is truly ancient. This piece was brought back to France by one of La Pérouse’s officers and is now in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXX, Figure 74. The same type of fishhook, collected by Thomson. In this case, the ancient ligature rotted away in the ahu and was retied by contemporary islanders.

Plate XXX, Figure 75. An ancient shell fishhook (pa) 439. Note the way it is attached to the cord and the piece of very fine cord wound around the middle of the hook (perhaps to give it a better grip?)

Plate XXXI, Figure 76. An ancient spoon from Easter Island, made from the shell of a giant mollusk 440. Collected by Y. Yvan in 1877 and now in the Museum at Boulogne-sur-Mer. Previously unpublished photograph.

Plate XXXI, Figure 77 and Figure 77b. A variety of axe heads and spearheads made of flaked obsidian (mata’a or niho mango) 441. It has been generally accepted that these heads were attached to a shaft of driftwood or, more rarely, of hau wood to make a spear. Heads of the type labeled E 442 which cut rather than pierced, were called tahae rova 443. Moreover, other heads, such as C and D [the third and fourth on the top row?] and 77b (Toulouse Museum], which were considered by other authors to be blades that, when attached to a short handle, served as domestic utensils, are, in fact, broken and discarded spear heads. In general, each point has a concave and a convex side, and the haft is always very short. (Figure 77 is a photograph taken by Thomson; Figure 77b is a previously unpublished photograph from the Toulouse Museum, which is reproduced here by courtesy of Count Begouen.)

Plate XXXI, Figure 78. A piece of obsidian that, I think, was used domestically as a cutting tool. In this context, let me make a comment, which has not previously been published: the convex cutting surface is made by the edge that descends from the point downwards and to the left. This blade was chipped, when it was in use, in the middle. By contrast, the two ridges on the right, which go from the point to the base were deliberately smoothed along their entire length so that the blade could be held without injuring the fingers: the thumb would have been placed, as it were, on the left cheek, with the index and middle fingers bent on the right side. This piece actually resembles certain rather thick knife-scrapers from the Mousterian [Neanderthal] era. This piece is in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXXII, Figure 79 and Figure 82. Photographs, actual size, of the back and front of an obsidian blade with a handle, which was found beside a skull and some bones on Vaïhu (Easter Island) by Delabaude, who landed there on the Durance in 1901. Was this piece part of a weapon called a hahae rova 444; was it used as a cleaver or did it have some other domestic use? (From the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet; previously unpublished photographs.)


Plate XXXII, Figure 80. An obsidian blade (mata’a), actual size, with a handle (a cleaver?). (From the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet; previously unpublished photograph.)

Plate XXXII, Figure 81. A very fine obsidian spear head, (niho-mango) 445 with a haft, from Easter Island (mata’a). The convex side is shown, actual size, without retouching (from the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet).

Plate XXXIII and Plate XXXIV, Figure 83, Figure 84, Figure 85, Figure 86, Figure 87, Figure 88, and Figure 89. Examples of the decorative, boat-shaped, pectoral ornaments that were worn long ago by the women of Easter Island. The natives called these ornaments reimiro (from rei, which means poop or prow, and miro which means boat) 446. The reimiro was worn on the chest in the same way as the natives of the Solomon Islands, for example, wear ornaments made of shells (Figure 88).

Each reimiro had a concave or interior side (Figure 83), on which there were small ridges around a hollowed out region that was filled with porphyrized chalk (from the calcination of shells), and a convex or outer side which, in the upper middle, had two small bumps, each of which was pierced to allow a cord to pass through it (Figures 84, 85 and 87). On the reimiro in Figure 86, the bumps have been worn away by use. At the two ends, there are decorative representations of human heads, carved in the very characteristic style of the ancient islanders. The reimiro in Figure 86, which is 40 centimeters long, was found on Easter Island by Loti in 1872 and appears to have been used before it was completely finished. Thus, the heads appear extremely stylized but could clearly, in view of their size and shape, have been carved, subsequently, to resemble those of other reimiro. Note that Loti confused this reimiro with an Australian boomerang, even though the shapes are so different, as indicated by the label, written in his own hand, which is transcribed below.

The reimiro in Figure 84 is unusual in so far as it is decorated with a line of finely drawn ideographic characters of the type that is typical of Easter Island. It is now in the British Museum. The reimiro in Figure 83, which is 46 centimeters long and of very fine quality, is in the Trocadéro Museum. The reimiro in Figure 85, found on Easter Island and collected by Jaussen, used to be in the Museum of the Picpus Fathers (which held all the items left by the Bishop of Axieri). It is 29 centimeters long and 16.5 centimeters high and was found, as shown, with one of its two heads missing. Nevertheless, because of the quality of the carving, features that prove its antiquity, and the fact that it is made of toromiro wood, Jaussen preferred this reimiro to all the others that he owned. He drew a picture of it in 1885, as an example, on a manuscript that is in the archives of the Picpus Fathers. It is now in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet. The reimiro in Figure 87 is unusually large. Reimiro of this size are very rare and are believed by some to have been worn only by men. This one is 61 centimeters long and its maximum width is 16 centimeters. (To define the curvature of this reimiro, we note that the length of a perpendicular line from the middle of an imaginary line between the two ends to the lower edge is 33 centimeters.) Figure 89 shows an enlarged view of the inside face of one of the two heads of this reimiro to demonstrate the features of heads, such as those in Figures 86 and 87, that are extremely stylized (from the collection of Vayson de Pradennes). Let us recall that several reimiro were carved on the rocks at Orongo and that this symbol is also one of the ideographic signs in the Easter Island alphabet.

N.B. The label on the reimiro in Figure 86, written by Loti, reads as follows: “In 1872, I found this boomerang, which undoubtedly came from Australia, on Easter Island, which is located, as everyone knows, half way between South America and Oceania, 800 leagues from the closest land and 3,000 leagues from Australia, and on which there are no trees and, thus, no wood. A cursory inspection of this weapon suffices to confirm its great antiquity. The presence of this boomerang on Easter Island provides a very curious insight into the migrations of the peoples of the Pacific Ocean long ago. Pierre LOTI”

The object is not a boomerang (moreover, how could a boomerang ever have found its way to Easter Island?) but it is well and truly a characteristic and autochthonous reimiro. Thus, Loti made a mistake. However, we should not forget that, at the time, he was only 21 years old. We should really admire, all the more, the intelligence of this young man whose knowledge of the sea was supplemented by superb artistic talent, a knowledge of ethnography and prehistory, and literary genius that would soon reveal itself!

Plate XXXV, Figure 90, Figure 91, Figure 93, and Figure 94. Different types of tahonga, made from driftwood, which were worn, on their backs, by adolescent Easter Islanders in ancient times. Only the Museum of the Picpus Fathers has many examples of these ornaments, three of which are shown here. Figure 91 shows a tahonga that is 14 centimeters high and represents a Manutara. The design, carved in relief in the form of a “V”, is a stylized version of the bird’s wings. Notice the eye made of marine ivory [sic] with a piece of obsidian in the center, and the hole from which the tahonga was suspended. Figure 93 shows the front view of the tahonga shown in Figure 94, which is 9.5 centimeters high. It is decorated with two human heads, back to back, and, as well as large ears, each head has eyes similar to those on Figure 91  447. This tahonga has a hole between the two heads for the cord from which it was suspended and similar sets of stylized wings. The tahonga in Figure 90 is 11.5 centimeters high and 8 centimeters wide. It is carved with a highly stylized version of the manutara, with wings similar to those in Figure 91 and a hole for a cord. The tahonga in Figures 91 and 93 [and 94] are in the Museum in Braine-le-Comte (Picpus Fathers) and that in Figure 90 is in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXXV, Figure 92. A shell known as an “ovule” 448, shown actual size. It was used as a pectoral ornament by the ancient islanders (see Figures 7 and 14). It is in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XXXVI, Figure 95 and Figure 96. Two two-headed clubs known as ua. Figure 96 shows the whole club, which is 60 inches [sic] long, being the length of most clubs that have been found, and Figure 104 shows the front of the head, actual size. The club in Figure 95 is unusually long, being both the longest and the oldest club that is known today. It is 1.66 meters long and 10 centimeters wide. Figure 103 shows the top, face on and actual size. Figure 103b shows the top in profile, demonstrating the fusion of two heads and allowing a comparison with the profiles of the monumental statues at Rano Raraku. This extraordinarily rare piece, which has a remarkable patina that is due to its great age, was found on Easter Island by Loti in 1872 (the label, written and signed in his own hand, remains affixed to the bottom of the club). In Reflections on a Dark Route, Loti tells how he obtained this club, “I decided to exchange my midshipman’s jacket for an extraordinary club that was topped by a sort of Janus head, with two human faces”. The club in Figure 95 is in Dr. Stephen-Chauvet’s collection; the club in Figure 96 is in the Trocadéro Museum, to which it was donated by Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.


Figure 95b [from the original Chauvet, page 24]. A short wooden club, known as paoa, that belonged to the ancient Easter Islanders. It is 47 cm long and 12 cm wide at its widest point. It was found by V. Champeval, from Tulle, in 1872 (expedition of the Flore).


Plate XXXVI, Figure 97 and Figure 98. Large, carved and painted, ceremonial paddles, known as ao. These paddles were used in various ceremonies, in particular, those associated with the birdman cult (which explains why similar paddles were carved on certain rocks on Easter Island and also on the back of the statue shown in Figure 57, which presided over the initiation ceremonies). With dimensions generally similar to those of the ao in Figure 97 (38 inches long and 6.4 inches wide), such paddles are usually painted in red, black and white, either in stripes or in alternating parallel blocks. (From Thomson)

Plate XXXVI, Figure 99 and Figure 100. Two examples of rapa or “balance pole for dancing” [sic] that were used by the ancient islanders. The one in Figure 99 (from the Morice Collection) is 38 inches long and the one in Figure 100 (in Dr. Stephen-Chauvet’s collection) is 56 centimeters long. The raised ridges depict very stylized representations of human faces of the type shown in Figures 97 and 98. Notice the swastika at the base of the ao in Figure 99 and the manutara carved on the upper part of the ao in Figure 100.

Plate XXXVI, Figure 101 and Figure 102. Wooden objects, each made of two pieces of wood, called “scull-oars” by Thomson and mata-kao by the natives (taken from Thomson’s book).

Plate XXXVII and Plate XXXVIII, Figure 103 and Figure 103b. The head of the club shown in Figure 95, in profile and face on, actual size.

Plate XXXVII, Figure 104. A photograph taken face on and actual size of the head of the club (ua) shown in Figure 96. (This club was found by Count Festetics de Tolna and subsequently formed part of the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet, who gave it to the Trocadéro Museum, in Paris.)

Plate XXXIX, Figure 105-1. A wooden fish from Easter Island that is now in the British Museum in London. Reproduced here by special permission of the Curators of the Museum 449.


Plate XXXIX, Figure 105-2. Carved fish (ika) in Casuarina wood from Easter Island. It was part of the Forster Collection but is now in the Berlin Museum of Folk Art. It appears to have been found, long ago, “attached by a cord to a slate tablet that was designed as a weight for nets that were used for catching sharks”. ? Reproduced with the permission of the Chief Curator of the Museum.

Plate XXXIX, Figure 105-3. Wooden fish from Easter Island. From the Christy collection, in the Pitt-Rivers Museum and shown in its General Handbook.

Plate XXXIX, Figure 105-4. Wooden fish from Easter Island. This fish is of a different type from and not quite as old as the preceding fish. From the collection of Nell Walden (Basel).

Plate XXXIX and Plate XL, Figure 106, Figure 107, and Figure 108. Ancient carved wooden idols (?) or fetishes (?) from Easter Island. These carvings, referred to by some authors as fish and by some as lizards, represent, in fact, neither fish nor lizards. They represent hybrid fusions between human figures and several animals (see the relevant chapter). They are called moko miro and were made more recently than the moai kavakava with their sunken bellies. The oldest are made of toromiro wood. The one in Figure 106 is in the Trocadéro Museum and is 33 centimeters long. The one in Figures 107 and 108, which is 39 centimeters long and a maximum of 5 centimeters wide, was brought from Easter Island by Commander Jouin of the La Flore in 1872 and it is now in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet. It appears that the object in Figure 105  450, which looks basically like a lizard, has a head that is part fish and part lizard and a human body, whose lower back is decorated with a fan-shaped arrangement of carved feathers (see also Figures 110, 112, 113 and 114, in which such carvings more clearly resemble a bird’s tail). The carving in Figure 107 has human lower limbs and is much more elongated. It does not have a bird’s tail but, rather, a long and obviously lizard-like tail. Note on these two carvings [Figures 106 and 107 plus 108] how the spine and ribs protrude, just as they do on the carvings of men with sunken bellies, and note, too, the eyes made of marine ivory and obsidian.

Plate XLI and Plate XLII, Figure 109, Figure 110, and Figure 111. Two carved birdmen (tangata manu) that belong to the British Museum and are shown here by special permission of the Directors of the Museum. The birdman in Figure 109, acquired in 1928, is 10/3 10e inches high 451 and the one in Figure 110 is 15 inches tall. Note, in Figure 109, the mixture of human and birdlike features (lateralization of the eyes and the presence of wings and a tail). Contrary to current opinion, I do not think that the carving in Figure 111 is a birdman. It seems, rather, just to be a bird on the end of a stick.

Plate XLII, Figure 112. Birdman (tangata manu) from the Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. This is a very old and beautifully carved piece that does not represent a combination of a man and a penguin, as Lehmann and numerous other authors have suggested, but, in my opinion, it is an ancient statue of a man with a sunken belly that has been given the wings, tail and head of an albatross.


Plate XLII, Figure 113. Birdman (tangata manu) from the American Museum of Natural History, New York.


Plate XLIII, Figure 114 and Figure 115. A very fine piece of exceptional quality that was probably made at the same time as the ancient stone statues. It was found on Easter Island by Loti in 1872. It is 25 centimeters high and made from a very old piece of toromiro wood. It represents the most obvious type of birdman (tangata manu)! The head, which appears much more human and is much more finely carved than the heads on the statues in earlier Figures, is a head in the style of Daumier on which the artist, to make the head bird-like, has added a protrusion at the base of the nose designed to evoke the horned protuberance of some birds, as well as lateralized eyes. On this head, which is very elongated (as are the heads on the statues at Rano Raraku), there are two other features that are typical of the stone statues: long ears carved in the same manner (see Figures C, B, E, 45, 51, 53 and 54); and, on the forehead, conspicuous ridges carved in the antero-posterior direction just like those on some of the monumental statues (Figures C-a and 51). These details, together with other aspects of style and the antiquity of the piece, suggest that it was carved at the same time as the statues at Rano Raraku. Those with keen eyesight will notice that this carving, in common with those in Figures 109 and 112 and the ancient wooden statuettes in Figure 116 onwards, has a pupil depicted by a tiny flake of obsidian. Furthermore, while the statuettes in Figures 109, 112 and 113 have (i) a body that is predominantly human, with bird-like additions; and (ii) a head that is basically bird-like, with human additions, this carving has a totally bird-like body and an almost totally human head (with only the two bird-like features mentioned above). One can see, therefore, that, when they wanted to evoke a bird-man hybrid, the island craftsmen had several possible formulae from which to choose. (N.B. This type of tangata manu might be comparable to the sirens of Greek mythology.) Note that, when it was included among the written characters on the “talking wooden tablets”, the character that represented tangata manu (Figure C-d) could not include all these complicated features because of the small size of the characters, so it was depicted just as a bird with hands (emanu-rima-taata) 452.

To return to the tangata manu in Figure 114, we should note that the body never had legs and that it only had wings and a tail, which was rather larger than those on the other carvings in earlier Figures. Note, too, that this statuette has two features that I consider to be extremely important, as much for their actual significance as for the fact that I think they are specific to the ancient island carvings (and which, curiously, has never previously been mentioned!): (i) on the front of the neck there is a clear indication of a goiter; and (ii) on the back of the neck there is an obvious but smaller lump. These two features, which we shall find again on the statuettes in Figures 116 though 123, 125, 127, 128, 130, 134, etc., will be discussed when we examine these statuettes themselves.

One final remark, in conclusion: Figure 115 shows the stand that Loti made for this tangata manu. The carving was bought at the sale of Pierre Loti’s effects (on Wednesday January 30 1929, in room 10 [?]) and attached to a new stand, as shown in Figure 114, by Dr. Stephen-Chauvet. As seen in Figure 114, the carving is mounted on legs so that the head is in the right place and so that the symbolism of the piece is immediately obvious. The two legs are carved very crudely and from wood that is a different color from the wood of the statue itself, so that there can be no confusion and no doubt that the legs are a stand rather than part of the birdman himself (Collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet).

Plate XLIV, Figure 116, Figure 117, Figure 118, and Figure 119. Very ancient statuettes, known as moai kavakava, that were brought back to England by Cook and A. W. Franks and are now in the British Museum. They are photographed in profile here and from the back in Figures 120 through 123, respectively. The front and back of the statuette in Figure 116 is shown in greater detail in Figures 124 and 125. The left profile is shown in Figure 130 and the right profile is shown, on a still larger scale, in Figure 134, to provide clearer views of the neck and head. The head of the statuette in Figure 117 has been photographed also, as shown in Figure 135, to show the carving on the front of the head and, as shown in Figure 136, the carving on the back of the head. All these photographs, most of which have never previously been published, are reproduced here by courtesy of the Directors of the British Museum, whom I thank most sincerely for their kindness. Because these statuettes have sunken bellies and prominent ribs and vertebrae, some authors, including C. Einstein and H. Lavachery, have proposed that they represent cadavers. This opinion is unequivocally erroneous. First of all, to be emaciated one does not need to be dead. Moreover, the poses are not those of corpses and, finally, the eyes are shown not shut but wide open. The island craftsmen even took the trouble to show all the details of each wide-open eye, using pieces of marine ivory [sic] and obsidian. Surely, wood carvers with the extraordinary talents revealed by these statuettes would have been able to depict the eyes of corpses if they had so wished.


Furthermore, we are not dealing with emaciation and, even less so, with depictions of cadavers whose flesh is decaying, such as the masterpiece of Ligier-Richier in Bar-le-Duc, but we are quite clearly dealing (as I explain in the text) with a general state of dehydration accompanied by pathologic somatic disorders of endocrine origin. It is truly astonishing that such obvious details have not previously been noted! I should also point out that, on the one hand, the facial features of these statuettes are clearly acromegalic and, on the other hand, each statuette has an indisputable goiter. These two pathologic disorders have been completely overlooked, as has the lump on the back of the neck, even though they are depicted with perfect clarity. Note also the prominent ribs and vertebrae; the sunken belly; the presence of a small lipoma 453 (?) on the buttocks; and the intentionally diminutive feet. The ears, which have been carved with care, have extended lobes as a result of ear ornaments of the type seen in Figures 6, 7 and 8. This combination of features is reproduced on the giant stone statues but in more stylized fashion. In this case also, one has to ask how it is that some authors mistook the carvings on the sides of the heads of these giant statues for hairstyles?

Plate XLIV, Figure 120, Figure 121, Figure 122, and Figure 123. The same statuettes, seen from the back, showing the vertebrae and ribs, the variable position of the circle and iliac crests, the inconsistent presence of a little protuberance in the center of the buttocks and, finally, the bump on the nape of the neck.

Plate XLV, Figure 124 and Figure 125. Statuette in Figure 3 [?], brought to Europe by A. W. Franks in 1886 (height, 40 inches). On this statuette, which is a typical example, the front and back exhibit all the features that have been mentioned above. Note, in particular, the eyes that are wide open, the lump on the back of the neck, the position of the lumbar circle (in relation the the lumbar vertebrae), the vertebrae themselves, and the buttocks. On the skull, there is a little person with ruffled hair and raised arms and legs.

Plate XLVI, Figure 126 and Figure 127. An ancient moai kavakava of exceptionally high quality from the same era as those described above (goiter; a bump that has not been pierced – demonstrating that, on the other statuettes, the bump was not designed as the site of a hole through which a cord could be passed; a skull with carved decoration of unusual delicacy and fine quality, showing stylized hair in the center and, on the front, two stylized frigate birds, beak to beak, etc.) The statuette is made of toromiro wood of remarkably fine grain and patina and is 16 3 4 inches high [16.75 inches?]. This statuette was brought to England by one of Captain Cook’s officers and remained for some time at Hornby Castle, the home of the officer’s descendants. It is now in the collection of Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate XLVII, Figure 128 and Figure 129. Statuettes, similar to the preceding statuettes, that belong to the Munich Ethnographic Museum. The carving on the top of the skull of the one on the right has been interpreted by some authors as a crayfish (!) and that on the top of the skull on the left has been interpreted by the same authors as representing a fish. It seems simpler to see the carving as a stylization of the hair, of which strands have been pulled, four at a time, from one side of the skull to the other. Notice, in Figure 128, the lump on the back of the neck and the goiter, which is shown very clearly and, in Figure 129, the goiter, a smaller lump on the back of the neck and the very small feet. These very old statuettes were purchased in 1825 from K. de Kiot [?] and were collected on Cook’s voyage.

Plate XLVIII, Figure 130. The statuette in Figures 116, 124 and 125, in profile. It is 17 2/10 inches high and is in the British Museum.

Plate XLVIII, Figure 131. A statuette from approximately the same time and in the same style as the ones shown in previous Figures. Note the goiter and the head facing to the left. Height, 30 centimeters. Note also the deliberately small feet, the absence of a goatee and, on the skull, a double carving of a bird motif (Trocadéro Museum, Paris).

Plate XLIX, Figure 132. Another similar ancient statuette. From the Museum of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Plate XLIX, Figure 133. Yet another ancient moai kavakava. This one was brought back to France by Pinart. This statue is unique because of the “transformation” [sic] achieved by a headdress of human hair and “tapa”. The statuette is 35 centimeters tall and it is in the Trocadéro Museum in Paris.

Plate XLIX, Figure 134. Profile of the head and the torso of the statuette brought back to England by A. W. Franks (Figures 124 and 125; British Museum). It is easy to see the clearly carved vertebrae, the goatee beard, etc. and, in addition the goiter, the lump on the nape of the neck (which is very large and has a hole in it for passage of a cord). It is the presence of this hole, doubtlessly, that has led to the misinterpretation of the lump on the back of the neck of so many of the statuettes. This hole, which allowed the islanders to hang the statuette around their necks for certain ceremonies, is not found in all of the statuettes. Figures 120 through 132 and 127 show, in fact, lumps of all sizes without such a hole.

Plate L, Figure 135 and Figure 136. The upper front and lower back of the skull of the statuette in Figure 117, showing decorations that consist of a combination of four stylized manutara. (British Museum).

Plate L. Figure 137 and Figure 138. The front and back of a hand, carved in yellowish palm wood (driftwood), from Easter Island; length, 11 inches. This hand is in the British Museum and was very likely collected during Cook’s second voyage in 1774 (see G. Forster, p. 581). Numerous authors have written that this hand has very long fingers. That is inaccurate; the fingers are of normal length but each ends with a very long finger nail, as did the fingers of Chinese dignitaries in olden days. This deliberate detail appears to me to be of great semiologic value (which has, to date, been overlooked). This hand could be none other than a hand of an Easter Islander who never performed manual labor. To provide further confirmation, the sculptor has given the hand a rather soft appearance, like the “hand of a priest”. Thus, the hand must be that of a great wise man or maori, who had profound knowledge of the traditional language and traditional texts and whose responsibility it was, also, to pass on to his pupils the island’s oral traditions and the esoteric texts that were written on the “tablets”.

We should recall here that some of the monumental statues have hands that seem to have long narrow fingers and thumbs that are equally elongated and point slightly backwards (Figure 38 and also, in Routledge’s book, Figures 69 and 72). Given these similarities, we can perhaps conclude that the statues have hands similar to this carved wooden hand and, thus, they also depict dignitaries, which is, in fact, a very reasonable deduction. (Reproduced with special permission of the Directors of the British Museum).

Plate LI, Figure 139. Ancient statuette, 29 centimeters high, found on Easter Island by Loti. Even though it is basically similar to the ancient statuettes, this example already shows a slight degeneration of the style of the very ancient statuettes shown in earlier Figures (the characteristic lips are missing, the chin and goatee are poorly carved, there is no lump on the nape of the neck and there are no feet). Moreover, the entire design, the carving and the somatic features do not conform exactly to the somewhat ritual rules. It appears that this statuette became integrated into island life before it was completely finished and, moreover, it has been subjected to a certain amount of wear and tear. This type of statuette is called moai tangata. It is decorated with two long black rooster feathers, which were meant, perhaps, to evoke the feather headdresses of the type seen in Figures 6, 10, etc.

Plate LI, Figure 140. Statuette of the same type, the same quality, the same style and from approximately the same period as the one in Figures 141 through 144, the era of “incipient decadence”. The statuette has no goiter, and no lump on the back of the neck; the mouth is horizontal with thin lips. Washington Museum.

Plate LI, Figure 141. Statuette from Easter Island in the same style and from approximately the same time as the one in Figure 144. Note in particular that, while the mouth is carved in the traditional manner, the ears are not stuck to the side of the head and the clavicles are not carved in the ancient style. Moreover, there is no goiter, no lump on the back of the neck, and the top of the skull is smooth. (Collection of J. Level, Paris)

Plate LII, Figure 142 and Figure 143. Wooden statuettes from Easter Island, representing a style that is a little closer to the decadent style. The statuette in Figure 142, which shows a woman (moai paapaa) and is 75 centimeters tall, is from the collection of A. Fleshthein [sic] (Berlin). The artist who carved it, towards the middle of the XX [sic] century 454 had already forgotten the significance of the specific features of the ancient statuettes to such an extent that this statuette is “female” but has a goatee like the male statuettes (see also Figure 148). Conversely, the male statuette in Figure 143 has no goatee, nor a goiter, a lump on the back of the neck, ribs or visible teeth. (No. 143, voyage of Monsieur Marie Prigent [sic]. The Peytel Collection, Paris)


Figure 143b [from the original Chauvet, page 51]. Statuette from the early phase of the decadent era. Toulouse Museum.

Plate LII, Figure 144. Statuette from Easter Island, brought back to France in 1830 by Captain Thibaud of Nantes and now in the Lafaille Museum in La Rochelle. Similar to the preceding statuette and the two that follow, this statuette reflects a style and a technique that suggest the decadent era and, thus, this statuette was made much later than the ancient statuettes (it lacks a goiter, a lump on the back of the neck, and feet; the lower limbs are carved in one piece; and the mouth is horizontal and closed instead of being boat-shaped like those on the ancient statuettes etc.).

Plate LII and Plate LIII, Figure 145, Figure 146, Figure 147, and Figure 148. Four examples of statuettes from Easter Island that were made at the time (the last sixty years of the XX [sic; = XIX?] century) when the art of the islanders had already degenerated totally, namely, during the period that we might call “European” or the “Export Period”, since they were carved for sale to tourists! Such statues were never made of toromiro wood but were made of driftwood or of wood brought by the vessels that visited the island. Being approximately 70 centimeters high, these statuettes lack prominent ribs and vertebrae and a sunken belly and they have none of the facial features of the ancient statuettes. They are generally crudely carved and of poor quality. Since the natives no longer understood the ancient traditions and since they did not have any ancient statuettes to copy (since all of them had been carried away by visiting expeditions), they took their inspiration, more or less, from the great stone statues on the pakeopa, which they could see with their own eyes and which the visitors appeared to admire so much. This explains why the statuettes have crude facial features and, also, the disposition of their arms (Figures 37, 38, 147 and 148). Finally, they lack carving on their skulls. The significance of the somatic peculiarities of the ancient statuettes had been so long forgotten that the island sculptors did not hesitate to carve, for example on the carving in Figure 148, a goatee on a statuette of a ... female. By contrast, the artist failed to carve a beard on the male statuette in Figure 146. The statuette in Figure 145, which lacks ribs, a sunken belly, a goiter, a lump on the nape of the neck and whose head is turned to the left, is in the Museum in Washington. The statuette in Figure 146 (29 centimeters tall, with a horizontal mouth, narrow lips, and without visible teeth, a goatee, a goiter or a lump) belongs to the Lille Museum and was photographed with the gracious authorization of Monsieur E. Théodore.

Plate LIII, Figure 149. A carving with the same defects and the same lack of any true value as the preceding statuettes (Trocadéro Museum, Paris). This bizarre object, which is 26 centimeters wide, has been called tahonga by certain “erudite” authors who, it is obvious, have never seen a real tahonga. The most disastrous features of this carving are the glass eyes that resemble those that taxidermists put into stuffed poodles! We should note that it is not surprising that such unorthodox works should have found their way into European collections since, from 1860 onwards, there was a European on Easter Island who devoted himself to producing a whole series of these carvings. Moreover, Routledge wrote in her book that, when she refused to buy a statuette from an islander, who had had the effrontery to assure her of its antiquity, because she had seen him carve it the previous week, he responded, “It really is very beautiful and antique (!) but I shall save it for the ship’s captains (“capitanio-man-o-vavi”) who are all damned drunkards!”

Plate LIII, Figure 150. A carved bust from Easter Island that is 80 centimeters high (from the collection of A. Fleschthein [sic]). This carving is a typical example of Easter Island art at the end of the nineteenth century, that is to say, of an art that has degenerated totally in terms both of style and manufacture. Such pieces were made for sale to foreigners. Moreover, since they were not limited by any religious strictures or artistic traditions, the island sculptors carved objects such as this one (with a horizontal mouth, no visible teeth, no goatee, no goiter and no lump on the back of the neck), giving free rein to their imagination and producing works of this type that were of no significance at all. Note, finally, the very crude workmanship, the difference between this head and the heads of the ancient statuettes, and the difference between the fingers (poorly carved and with short fingernails) on these hands and those on the ancient hand in Figures 137 and 138.

There is a similar work in the Bremen Museum that belongs to the same category.


Figure 150b [from the original Chauvet, page 68]. A very recent statuette, produced for export (from the collection of Dr. S.C.).

Plate LIV, Figure 151. A photograph, actual size, of part of the famous cord made of human hair that was wound around the “Crescent Tablet”. This is the first photograph of this cord to be published. From the collection of and photographed by Dr. Stephen-Chauvet.

Plate LIV, Figure 152 and Figure 153. Tablet from Easter Island or “Clever Hibiscus Wood”: kohau rongorongo. Referred to commonly as the Crescent Tablet, this tablet was given the maori name, doubtlessly in error, of Ka-Ihi-Uiga by Thomson. This tablet, whose location Thomson failed to give and which is part of the collection of the Museum in Braine-le-Comte (Belgium), does not have a “Rapanui” name, according to Father Ildefonse Alazard. (It is even move astonishing that Thomson, in his book, gives a translation first in maori and then in English!)

Many authors have written that this tablet is the one associated with the discovery of the written Easter Island language! It has been widely accepted that Zumbohm, on his way from Easter Island to Valparaíso in 1868, stopped in Tahiti to see Jaussen and to give him, on behalf of the Easter Islanders, as testimony to their obedience and gratitude to the Church, a little piece of wood around which was wound a cord of about one hundred meters [sic] in length, made of braided hair. The Bishop of Axieri, having pushed the cord slightly to one side, noticed that there were very curious carved signs on both sides of the piece of wood. These signs had never previously been mentioned and their existence was even more surprising because it had been generally accepted that the Easter Islanders, like all other Polynesian peoples, were a “prehistoric” people with no written language. Jaussen was intrigued by his discovery and asked Roussel, who was still on Easter Island, to collect as many tablets as he could for him. Until now, it has always been accepted that the “Crescent Tablet”, the one that is linked to the discovery of the written Easter Island characters, is the tablet that is shown in Figures 152 and 153.

As a result of the research by Father I. Alazard and Father M. Desmedt, based on the handwritten and unpublished notes of Monsignor Jaussen, it is clear that a major mistake has been made. The tablet that was first brought to the Bishop and which he called the “Crescent Tablet” is, in fact, the one shown in Figures 155, 156 and 157: aroukou-kourenga! It is undoubtedly this latter tablet that the Bishop was referring to, as is confirmed by his description of it and the photograph that he appended to this description. As for the tablet that has been referred to as the “Crescent Tablet”, the Bishop gave it no name at all! Moreover, and this is most surprising of all, this tablet did not even have a name in Rapanui! In this context, we note that Jaussen is said to have had only five tablets but, in fact, he only counted those in good condition; he did not count, for example, the “Pseudo Crescent” (Figure 152), because it was very worn, and the tablet in Figure 154, because it is just a fragment. In fact, he had seven tablets (one of which he gave to the Commander of the Vitjazj). In any case, to avoid any complications in the future, it is necessary to give each of these two tablets a different name. In spite of the fact that the Bishop called the aroukou-kourenga the “Crescent Tablet”, it seems better to give the name “Crescent Tablet” to the tablet in Figure 152 because (i) it is universally known by that name and (ii) it is truly crescent-shaped and so deserves the name while, in view of its shape, the aroukou-kourenga tablet could be called, for example, the “Racket”.

The tablet in Figure 152 is not made of toromiro wood but of Podocarpus Latifolia [latifolius] (or “fenuginea” [ferruginea]). Figure 152 shows the front of the tablet and Figure 153 shows the back. It is 30 centimeters long and 15 centimeters wide (these dimensions were kindly provided by Father Ildefonse Alazard). It has seven lines of signs on the front, carved, “boustrophedon”, with a small shark’s tooth, and six lines on the back.

Plate LIV, Figure 154. Fragment of the kohau rongorongo tablet that belonged to Jaussen. This is the tablet that Thomson referred to as the Bishop’s seventh tablet. It is 11.5 centimeters long and 8 centimeters wide, with six lines on the front and on the back. When the Bishop of Axieri died, the tablet went to the Museum in Braine-le-Comte. It was offered in 1932 to Dr. Stephen-Chauvet, together with three other pieces from the collection of Monsignor Jaussen: the tahonga in Figure 90, the reimiro in Figure 85, and the rapa in Figure 100.

Plate LV and Plate LVI, Figure 155, Figure 156, and Figure 157. A beautiful tablet from Easter Island, known as Aroukou-Kourenga or Arukukurega. It is commonly known as the “Crescent Tablet” or the “Crescent”, which is a poor choice of name since it creates the confusion discussed above between this tablet and the “crescent” tablet in Figure 152. It would be better, as noted above, to refer to it as the “Racket”. In any case, according to Father Alazard, it is 43 centimeters long and 16 centimeters wide, with ten lines on the front and twelve on the back, with a total of 1,135 signs. This tablet is in the Museum in Braine-le-Comte. The photography in Figure 155, which shows the back of the tablet, provides a very clear depiction of all the signs, without any retouching. It also shows the numbering of the lines and the direction in which each should be read. Figure 156 shows one end of the same side, actual size, in a way that allows the reader to get a very good idea of the size and features of the individual characters. Figure 157 shows the back of the same tablet, at approximately actual size (photograph form the Trocadéro Museum).


We should note, in passing, that Thomson shows the same tablet in his book with the comments (i) that it was found on a voyage of the O’Higgins and (ii) that it is in the Santiago Museum. Both these comments are completely erroneous!


Figure 157b [from the original Chauvet, page 69]. Front and back of the "Worm-eaten Tablet", known as Kecti [sic] from Jaussenís collection. This tablet was given to the University of Louvain and was destroyed when the Germans set fire to the town in 1914 (the photograph was kindly provided by Father M. Desmedt).

Plate LVII, Figure 158 and Figure 159. Front and back of the tablet from Easter Island that belongs to Park and Davis and Co. (reproduced in Thomson’s book). This tablet, which does not have a Rapanui name, has nine lines of signs on the front and eight on the back. One corner is damaged and it has numerous holes. These photographs were taken in Papeete (Tahiti) by the widow of Mr. Hoare more than fifty years ago. Thomson made many mistakes in his discussion of this tablet, as follows.

   1) A poorly drawn reproduction of this same tablet (not a photograph) is included in his book and referred to as the “Apaï” tablet. Since the name “Apaï” cannot be applied to this tablet, we have to wonder where the name “Apaï” comes from or to what it might refer.

   2) He indicates that this tablet belonged to Jaussen even though the Monsignor never owned it and it has always belonged to Park and Davis.

   3) He refers to the back of this tablet (which he incorrectly calls “Apaï”) as the front and vice versa.

   4) In his book he provides a translation in maori and then a translation in English of this

so-called “Apaï” tablet, even though no tablet with such a name exists and even though, by contrast, he provides no translation of the tablet that belongs to Park and Davis of which he does show a photograph!

Plate LVII, Figure 160 and Figure 161. The front and back of a well-preserved rectangular tablet that was brought back on the Topaze and is now in the Washington Museum. There are eight lines on both the front and the back. It is the back of this tablet that is shown, without a name and without its location, in the article by Pinart. The photograph was kindly provided by the Washington Museum.

Plate LVII, Figure 162 and Figure 163. The back and front of a very beautiful tablet, known as Mamari or Miro. It is 30 centimeters long and 21 centimeters wide and has a total of 21 lines of signs. It is beautifully carved and in an excellent state of preservation. This lovely tablet is in the museum at Braine-le-Comte. Figure 162 shows the front and Figure 163 shows the back. The latter photograph was taken in Papeete by Widow Hoare, while the tablet was in Jaussen’s possession. Note that this tablet is included in his book by Thomson under the incorrect name of “Ate-A-Rongo-Hokau-Iti-Pokeraa”. A second mistake is that Thomson provides an entire translation in maori and then in English of this tablet whose pedigree, insofar as it is given by Thomson, is completely false!

Plate LIX, Figure 164. Tablet from Easter Island that, unfortunately, has been partially erased. It is in the British Museum and is eight inches long with five lines of characters on the front (the first and last lines, in particular, have been erased). Reproduced here courtesy of the Directors of the Museum.

Plate LIX, Figure 165 and Figure 166. Tablet from Easter Island, now in the American Museum of Natural History. The front is shown in Figure 165 and the back in Figure 166. Its Maori name is Atua-Matariri. Both sides of this tablet are shown by Thomson in his book.

Plate LX, Plate LXI, and Plate LXII, Figure 167, Figure 168, Figure 169, Figure 170, Figure 171, and Figure 172. A series of photographs showing, actual size, the famous tablet called “The Oar” or “Tahoua”, which is in the museum at Braine-le-Comte (Belgium). Together they show the entire front and back of the tablet, which is 93 centimeters long and 12 centimeters wide. There are eight lines on each side and a total of 1,547 characters (photographs from the Trocadéro Museum).

Plate LXIII, Plate LXIV, Plate LXV, Plate LXVI, Figure 173, Figure 174, Figure 175, and Figure 176. A compendium of ideographic signs from Easter Island that was made by Jaussen 455. Each sign is accompanied by its maori equivalent (literal meaning), which he was able to determine from the Maori Metoro-Taouaouré (son of Hetouki), whose teachers on Easter Island had been Gahou, Reimiro and Paovaa. Paovaa was, at that time, the last surviving maori or wise man.

Plate LXVI, Figure 177. Signatures inscribed by the Maori Chiefs in New Zealand on the Treaty of Vaitagi, which was made with the English.

Plate LXVII, Figure 178. A hieroglyphic Hittite inscription from Jeralbus (from Wrihgt [sic], The Empire).

Plate LXVII, Figure 179. The carving on a pre-Pharaonic cylindrical seal from Thebes. Cairo Museum (Egypt).

Plate LXVII, Figure 180. Hieroglyphics from a cylindrical seal that was found at Susa.

Plate LXVII, Figure 181. Two lines on seals from Mohenjo-Daro; from Sir John Marshall’s book, Mohenjo-Daro and the Industrie [sic] 456.

Plate LXVII, Figure 182. Petroglyphs on rocks in the western Sahara, recorded by the Theodore Monod Mission in 1934. The most ancient rock carvings appear to have been made by Neolithic herdsmen. The berber-lybic graffiti that depict camels and include lybic characters were carved much later, in approximately the fourth century A.D. Subsequently, such decorations depicted Muslim motifs.

Plate LXVII and Plate LXVIII, Figure 183, Figure 184, Figure 185, and Figure 186. The characters on the left of each column were found at Harappa (Middle Indus) and at Mohenjo-Daro by John Marshall and they date back to 2700 B.C. On the right of each Harappan character is the character from Easter Island which, according to de Hevesy, most closely resembles it.






422. Editorís note: It is hard to determine what Chauvet has in mind with "hiko kura". Hiko means "to ask, beg, or steal"; kura is the word for short multicolor feathers (Fuentes, 1960).

423. Translatorís note: The "pestering" seems to be mutual!

424. Editorís note: These words are not in the Rapanui dictionary. "Hau" is the word for "hat".

425. Editorís note: These words are not in the Rapanui dictionary.

426. Translatorís note: The legend to this Figure states "Plan of a MoraÔ or Cemetery". The correct word is "marae".

427. Translatorís note: Below the title on this Figure is a scale that is labeled, "Scale shows one hundred feet, where one inch represents ten feet".

428. Editorís note: Rano means "lake" in Rapanui.

429. Editorís note: The statue was taken from a stone house at Orongo.

430. Editorís note: The correct translation of the name of this statue is "Stolen Friend".

431. Translatorís note: Andesite is defined as a gray to black volcanic rock.

432. Editorís note: Aua means "stable, division, partition" (Fuentes, 1960). The Rapanui word for house is "hare".

433. Editorís note: There are actually 481 Birdman petroglyphs on Easter Island , 86% of which can be found at Orongo (Lee, 1992).

434. Editorís note: Two Birdmen facing each other are called manupiri; this refers to family tree or "source".

435. Editorís note: There is no such word in Rapanui; Chauvet may have meant "rona" (carving).

436. Editorís note: This name is not known on the island today.

437. Editorís note: Stone fishhooks are known as "mangai maíea".

438. Editorís note: Fishhooks of human bone are known as "mangai ivi tangata".

439. Editorís note: "Pa" in Rapanui is an adverb meaning "now". There is no word for "shell fishhook".

440. Editorís note: As the island lacks giant mollusks, this item surely came from elsewhere in Polynesia.

441. Editorís note: "Niho mango" means "shark tooth".

442. Translatorís note: There is no such label in the Figure but the author is probably referring to the first item on the left on the second row.

443. Editorís note: These words do not appear in Rapanui dictionaries.

444. Editorís note: "Hahae" is an obsolete word for an obsidian spear point. There is no such word as "rova" in the Rapanui dictionary.

445. Editorís note: In Rapanui, "niho mango" means shark tooth; obsidian spear points are "mataĎa".

446. Editorís note: "Rei" refers to a crescent-shaped breast plate; "miro" means wood.

447. Translatorís note: The authorís numbering seems incorrect; it has been changed to correspond with the images that are described.

448. Editorís note: This is a large cowrie shell, surely not from Easter Islandís waters.

449. Translatorís note: The author notes that this fish is similar to the previous one but it is likely that he was referring to the fish in Figure 105-2.

450. Translatorís note: Itís difficult to know if Chauvet is really referring to Figure 105 or if he means Figure 106.

451. Translatorís note: It is impossible to interpret the meaning of these numbers, which are reproduced her verbatim.

452. Editorís note: This phrase is meaningless in Rapanui. While manu does mean "bird" (among other things) rima means "five", or "hand/sleeve". Ta means "tattoo" and ata means "shade" or "shadow".

453. Editorís note: A benign tumor composed of fatty tissue.

454. Translatorís note: Obviously an error; the author must have meant (XIX = nineteenth).

455. Translatorís note: Since the information from Metoro-Taouaourť has been deemed totally unreliable, the French equivalents have no value and have not been translated.

456. Translatorís note: Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization.





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