Easter Island is famous for its hundreds of moai - large stone sculptors which are often termed the 'Easter Island Heads'.
In reality, this moniker is a bit inaccurate since the statues actually feature much more than the admittedly prominent heads. A new photo thread on Imgur has just revealed that many Easter Island moai often hide a beautiful secret beneath the ground. The images, which show the excavation of moai, reveal that the Easter Island statues also feature exquisitely carved torsos. Check them out below:
This isn't a new discovery per se, but it is interesting to find out there's a lot more going on with these statues than meets the eye.
What Are The Moai?
The large stone monolithic figures were built on Easter Island by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500. 887 statues are known to exist, although many of them have since been pulled down.
The figures represent the living faces (aringa ora) of the esteemed ancestors (aringa ora ata tepuna) of the main family lineages. Although acting as memorials to their forefathers, the statues also became important symbols of authority - with bigger statues representing more power. RedIceCreations explain:
"...[the] statues were thus symbols of authority and power, both religious and political. But they were not only symbols. To the people who erected and used them, they were actual repositories of sacred spirit. Carved stone and wooden objects in ancient Polynesian religions, when properly fashioned and ritually prepared, were believed to be charged by a magical spiritual essence called mana."
The statues always look inland, away from the ocean, as if protecting the village. The exception is the seven Ahu Akivi moai which face out to sea to help travellers locate the island. A legend claims there were seven Rapa ancestors who waited for the king to arrive.
Soon after their discovery by European explorers in 1722, the Easter Islanders' culture began to decline. The population dropped drastically as a result of deforestation, overexploitation of natural resources, heavy soil erosion and European illnesses. Faced with the destruction of their way of life, the remaining Easter Islanders pulled many moai to the ground.
Unmaintained and unkept, the statues were slowly buried by the sifting sands of the island, explaining why many are now buried up to their necks.