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Hoa Hakananai’a
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This monumental carving of the head and torso of a man is known as Hoa Hakananai’a (stolen or hidden friend). Easter Island is famous for monolithic basalt statues (moai) such as this one. They were probably carved to commemorate important ancestors and were made from around AD 1000 until the 1600s. Originally many stood on stone platforms (ahus).

The figure’s back is covered with ceremonial designs, thought to be later additions as they relate to the island’s birdman cult, which developed after about AD 1400. On the upper back and shoulders are two birdmen facing each other. In the centre of the head is the carving of a small fledging bird with an open beak. As the cult developed, the moai were gradually pushed from their platforms. After 1838, at a time of social collapse following European intervention, all remaining moai were toppled.

Hoa Hakananai’a

Collected in AD 1868 by the crew of HMS Topaze, from Orongo, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), c. AD 1000.
Ht. 242 cm.
Gift of HM Queen Victoria.

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