There are few more iconic historical objects than the Moai stone figures from Easter Island. They’re just something we all recognise.
Unsurprisingly, this makes them extremely sought-after, which has led to several Moai (and many more Moai pieces) being removed from Easter Island without permission over the last 150 years. It’s also resulted in a whole bunch of fakes.
The Moai outside the Museum of Archaeology and History Francisco Fonck in Viña del Mar, Chile, is neither of the above. It was brought to the mainland from Easter Island in 1951 aboard the ship Presidente Pinto.
The Viña del Mar Moai stands almost 9½ feet tall. It was removed from the small Ahu One Makihi platform on the south side of Easter Island, within what is now the Rapa Nui National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. This location is close to the famous Rano Raraku Crater quarry, where most of the Moai were carved straight out of the volcanic rock, between 600 and 350 years ago, by the Rapa Nui people.
For me, the most striking features of the Moai are their deep, brooding eyes beneath heavy brows. It wasn’t until 1979 that archaeologists realised they actually once had ‘proper’ eyes, carved from while coral with either black or red pupils.
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