|Man Near Moai (Lava Stone Effigy Figures) |
at Base of Outer Slope of Volcano 1890,
This society’s belief system centered on the concept of mana, a magical or spiritual essence. Oral legend says that this is the power that was able to move and erect the moai. The figures, once placed atop their platforms (ahu), were believed to watch over their clan’s territory and protect it with the power of mana. The figures did not have mana until they were given eyes (made of white coral and obsidian or red scoria), however. There are no remaining moai with their original eyes intact, but several have been restored for demonstration purposes. With or without eyes, these statues still appear majestic and stoic.
The National Anthropological Archives holds a variety of photographs and drawings of these massive stone figures.
The Smithsonian Institution is also in possession of two moai, one of which is on display in the National Museum of Natural History. These two specimens (Head SI-WDC-002 and Moai SI-WDC-001) came from an inland site called Ahu O’Pepe and were brought to the Smithsonian in 1887. William J. Thomson of the U.S. Navy collected the statues on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution in December 1886 and transported them to Washington, D.C. on the U.S.S. Mohican.
|George Brown Goode, Samuel D. Langley, and |
Otis T. Mason with Two Moai (Lava Stone Effigy
Figures) Inside Museum Building n.d.,
You can find other Smithsonian collections related to Easter Island here.
— Jocelyn Baltz, Intern, National Anthropological Archives