Rano Raraku

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

 
Jump to: navigation, search
Outer slopes of Rano Raraku with twenty moai, some buried to the neck

Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater formed of consolidated volcanic ash, or tuff, and located on the lower slopes of Terevaka in the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island. It was a quarry for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century, and supplied the stone from which about 95% of the island's known monolithic sculptures (moai) were carved. Rano Raraku is a visual record of moai design vocabulary and technological innovation, where 397 moai remain. Rano Raraku is in the World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park and gives its name to one of the seven sections of the park.

Physical description[edit]

Panorama of Rano Raraku's crater lake

The sides of Rano Raraku crater are high and steep except on the north and northwest, where they are much lower and gently sloping. The interior contains one of the island's three freshwater crater lakes, which is bordered by nga'atu or totora reeds. These plants, once thought as evidence of contact with the South American mainland, are now known to have been growing on the island for at least 30,000 years and were used by the Rapanui for thatched shelter and swimming aids.

Incomplete moai in the quarry[edit]

The incomplete statues in the quarry are remarkable both for their number, for the inaccessibility of some that were high on the outside crater wall and for the size of the largest; at 21.6 m (71 feet) in height, almost twice that of any moai ever completed and weighing an estimated 270 tonnes, many times the weight of any transported.

Some of the incomplete moai seem to have been abandoned after the carvers encountered inclusions of very hard rock in the material.

Others may be sculptures that were never intended to be separated from the rock in which they are carved.

Rano Raraku access road to the volcano and the quary

Standing moai at Ranu Raraku[edit]

On the outside of the quarry are a number of moai, some of which are partially buried to their shoulders in the spoil from the quarry. They are distinctive in that their eyes were not hollowed out, they do not have pukao and they were not cast down in the island's civil wars. For this last reason, they supplied some of the most famous images of the island.

Tukuturi[edit]

Tukuturi is an unusual moai. Its beard and kneeling posture distinguish it from standard moai.

The peculiar posture of this statue is well known on Easter Island and is called tuku turi or simply tuku. It was the posture used by the men and women who formed the chorus in the festivals called riu, where the posture was known as tuku riu. Typical also of the singers was the slightly backward inclination of the trunk, the raised head, and the goatee, all also seen in the statue.[1]

colour photo of kneeling figure carved from red stone, head splashed with white. A triangular hill is in the background and the sea in the top right
Tukuturi, with Poike in the background and Ahu Tongariki against the spray on the right

Tukuturi is made of red scoria from Puna Pau, but sits at Rano Raraku, the tuff quarry. It is possibly related to the Tangata manu cult, in which case it would be one of the last moai ever made.[2]

It seems likely that this statue represents a riu singer and was made after the production of classic statues has ceased.[1]

colour photo of kneeling figure in profile, carved from red stone, in long grass with a grassy background and a glimpse of the sea in the top right
Profile of Tukuturi showing beard

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Englert, Father Sebastian. Island at the Center of the World: New Light on Easter Island. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970.
  2. ^ Jo Anne Van Tilburg (1994). Easter Island Archaeology, Ecology and Culture, p. 146.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°7′26″S 109°17′10″W / 27.12389°S 109.28611°W / -27.12389; -109.28611