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Easter Island is a remote, triangular-shaped, treeless, island in the Pacific. It’s 14 miles long and 7 milesacross, at its widest, and there is a dormant volcano at each corner. This small isolated land is 2,000 miles from the South American mainland and it’s administered by Chile.
It was first discovered by Europeans when the Dutch navigator Admiral Jacob Roggevan arrived there in 1722. The island’s Polynesian name is Rapanui but it was previously called Te Pito no te Henui (Navel of the World) . It was given its present name as Roggevan arrived there on Easter Sunday .
Easter Island’s famous legless statues (moai) were being carved by craftsmen as late as 500 years ago and the volcanic Rano Raraku’s quarry supplied most of the stone . The statues vary in size and have large heads. Some have red hats. They have elongated ears and their extended chins have been compared to goatee beards.
The tallest moai is over 30ft and it weighs 82 tons. There are many of these strange figures embedded in the slopes of Rano Raraku and they give the impression that they are descending from above. Hundreds of moai stood in groups around the island on stone ramped platforms (Ahu’s) where people were also buried. Most of the sites probably belonged to local communities. There are also stone statues on an ahu at Anekana Bay in the north-east side of the island where, legend says, the first people landed.
Mrs Scorseby Routledge was one of the first scholars to visit Easter Island. She went there in 1913 and spent a year studying the culture and surveying the land. In 1933/4 Alfred Metraux led a French expedition to the island but Its most famous visitor was the Norwegian explorer/scholar Thor Heyerdahl who, in 1947, set off from South America with five companions, on the Kon Tiki raft, to show that it was possible for Native South Americans to sail thousands of miles across the Pacific.
Heyerdahl’s raft didn’t go to Easter Island but he proved his theory and he later went there with his Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to conduct a detailed investigation. American archaeologist , Jo Anne Tilburg ,director of the Easter Island Statue Project, completed a database of nearly 900 statues and astronomer William Liller covered the astro-archaeological angle.
Easter Island is also famous for its wood carved Rongo Rongo writings which were recited at ceremonies. This strange script has been studied by various researchers and Jean-Michel Schwartz interprets them in his book ‘The Secrets of Easter Island’.
According to Schwartz, the tall long-headed , white, people, with European features, who the Spanish first encountered in the Incan empire, were said to be the survivors of the race which preceded the Incas and who built Tiahuanaco. Heyerdahl relates that when Markham addressed the Royal Geographical Society, in 1870, he explained that when the Spanish conquered Tiahuanaco, they found ruined platforms, similar to those of Easter Island, and that on them were enormous ,ornate, long-eared statues wearing crowns.
Easter Island is also famous for its wood carved Rongo Rongo writings which were recited at ceremonies. This strange script has been studied by various researchers and Jean-Michel Schwartz interprets them in his book ‘The Secrets of Easter Island’ .
When Mrs Scorseby Routledge and others visited Easter Island they reported that among the population there were red-haired, white-skinned people some of whom wore white feather headdresses. The others were Polynesian. The whites ,who were tall and had European features, stretched their ears down to their shoulders and wore discs, or chocks, in their earlobes.* The two races were, consequently, known as the Long Ears and the Short Ears. The island’s legends say that the first migration came from the east and the second from the west. Heyerdahl suggested that the Long Ears were the first people on the island and that they came from South America where there was a widespread custom of ear extension. The Incan nobility, for example, also stretched their ears and wore discs in their earlobes . According to Schwartz, the tall long-headed , white, people, with European features, who the Spanish first encountered in the Incan empire, were said to be the survivors of the race which preceded the Incas and who built Tiahuanaco. Heyerdahl adds that when Markham addressed the Royal Geographical Society, in 1870, he explained that when the Spanish conquered Tiahuanaco, they found ruined platforms, similar to those of Easter Island, and that on them were enormous ,ornate, long-eared statues wearing crowns.
Also in support of Heyerdahl’s South American origin theory, Easter Island’s sweet potato came from theAndes and its tapioca came from South America. Various researchers have also reported that some of the island’s stonework is similar to that of early Peru. Heyerdahl says that ‘The Cyclopean work of the burial platforms is exactly the same as that of Cuzco and the adjacent regions in the Andes’. Other stones are ‘colossal as in the old temple of the Sun in Cuzco’. He also notes that Easter Island’s stone towers are similar to those found in the Titicaca basin.
At some time after European contact ,there appears to have been a war between the Long Ears and the Short Ears which resulted in many of the statues being knocked down. Another major upheaval occurred in 1862 when Peruvian slave traders killed, or captured, half the population and a small number were returned after adverse publicity. At the end of the day, there were only a few red-heads on the island.
Although Heyerdahl produced a huge volume of evidence about the settling of Easter Island , the Establishment rejected his ‘out of South America’ theory. When the DNA of the island’s Polynesian population was shown to differ from that of Native South Americans, this was said to confirm that the famous explorer was wrong. However, as Heyerdahl was referring to the island’s earlier red-haired ,white, race, who cremated their dead, the DNA test proved nothing.
Easter Island is also famous for its bird-man cult which appears to have been adopted later than the stone statue tradition. The cult revolved around the worship of the creator /first man god , who was known as Make Make. As conch shell trumpets were used on the island, as they were in many early cultures to summon the people, the leaders, or priests, probably sounded them, on the Spring equinox, to invite the people to gather around the base of Rano Kao, off the extreme south-east coast of the island, to begin the bird-man ceremonies. Several young men , who had been waiting in the Orongo village on Rano Kao’s summit, clambered down the cliffs and swam out to the small islet of Motu Nui, where there were several artificial caves, and they waited there for the arrival of the Sooty Tern. The first one to return, with an egg, was bird-man for the following year. His head was shaved and, during that year, he lived in exclusion. His hair and nails were not cut and he refrained from sex. There were numerous effigies of Make Make on the island in caves and on rocks. He was usually depicted as a bird but sometimes as a man with the head of a bird.
The bird-man cult was associated with the annual rebirth of a civilising god which several early people celebrated on the Spring equinox. And what a strange coincidence it is that the island was discovered on Easter Day as the Easter Egg features in the resurrection story of Jesus which falls around the time of this equinox . Birds were often used as symbols in the Early World and they were often associated with gods and the Upper World. Some gods, like Peru’s Viracocha, had a bird as a companion and others, including Make Make, was represented by one. There were winged gods in Assyrian art and that’s how angels are portrayed in Christian art.
’The Pleiades Legacy (The New World)’, reveals that the number, position, and astronomical alignment, of some of Easter Island’s statues, the legend, and symbolism, associated with the first arrival at Anakena, the island’s calendar, reports of scholars, especially those of Thor Heyerdahl, whose research is undervalued, explicit snake symbolism, (there are no snakes on the island) ,and the Rongo Rongo script, suggests that the islanders followed a version of the Pleiades linked, star-god, religion which was popular in the Early World. With regard to the bird-man cult, several early religious site, some thousands of miles ,and years, apart , display a similar form of star-god symbolism. It was featured in sacred architecture, and legend, in Central America , in Hopi legend, in a cave in a Caribbean island and in the Stone Age British Isles. It was incorporated into a sacred underground complex in Egypt and it can be found in the architectural layout of the Easter Island’s bird-man linked Orongo village. This form of symbolism is associated with certain incredible events which reputedly occurred 5,000 years ago and which changed the course of human history. ( See my article The World in Upheaval 3,000 b.c.e)
As mentioned above, there are suggested links between the white race on Easter Island and the Andean Tihuanaco people . Although these mysterious Andean folk didn’t record their religious beliefs, there is symbolism at Tihuanaco which was popular in the Ancient Middle East where it was associated with the leaders of those beings who the Sumerians called the Annunaki who some early people linked with the Pleiades and not with a planet called Nibiru. There are traces of a red-haired white race in Peru, including among the Incan ruling class, in other parts of the Americas, such as Brazil, on some Pacific islands, Asia, Egypt, the Canary Isles, and Europe , and various legends suggest that they are descended from a pre-deluge race. Easter Island, it would appear, is a fascinating part of an intriguing, worldwide , puzzle. ( See my article The Red-haired Race}.
* With regard to ear extension, apart from the Incas, other Peruvian people, such as the Moche, had this custom and Mayan rulers often wore a gold disc in their ears. Buddha is depicted with long ears and it was customary for men and women in India to wear ear plugs. Many African tribes stretched their ears and many wore a disc in them. Some Melanesian tribes also deformed their ear lobes so this strange custom was widespread.
- Thomas.S.Barthel. The Eighth Land. University Press. Hawaii. 1978
- Leonard Farra. The Pleiades Legacy (The New World), Blurb. 2010.
- Leonard Farra. The Pleiades Legacy (The Old World) “ “
- Leonard Farra. The Pleiades Legacy(The Stone Age) “ “
- Thor Heyerdahl. Early Man and the Ocean. George Allen & Unwin.1978
- Thor Heyerdahl. Easter island the Mystery Solved. Souvenir Press.1989.
- Thor Heyerdahl. Aku Aku.Allen & Unwin.1960
- Report of Norwegian Archaeological Expedition to Easter Island and the East Pacific.1961
- Francis Mazierre. Mysteries of Easter Island. Collins, 1969.
- Alfred Metraux. Easter Island. Book Club Associates. 1974
- Mrs Scorseby Routledge. The Mystery of Easter Island. 1919
- Jean Michael Schwartz. The Secrets of Easter Island. Sphere Books. 1979
- Jo Anne Van Tilburg.Easter Island.British Museum Press.1994