Rapa Nui Culture
Rapa Nui is a place surrounded by mystery. Its extreme isolation and the abuse suffered by its inhabitants in not very distant times caused that very little is known about the original Rapa Nui culture and its ancient traditions. In this page we will collect the most known aspects of this fascinating culture.
The mystery of Easter Island
If there’s a place in the world surrounded by mystery, it is Easter Island. Its isolation, in the Pacific Ocean, made its development very unique and different from its native people’s development and made it very hard to know much about its culture.
The language spoken in Easter Island, the Rapa Nui, despite having Polynesian roots, underwent changes that made it unique. On the other hand, myths and traditions that explain the origin and settlement of the island, almost miraculously survived, mainly due to subjugation, slavery and abuse suffered by the Rapa Nui during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was this abuse that almost completely extinguish the Rapa Nui and caused their writing is definitely lost in the memory of the oldmen, so today is no longer able to decipher the Rongorongo tablets.
It is this mystique that has made historians, scientists, adventurers and thinkers in general, developed hundreds of different theories to understand what was the Rapa Nui culture and answer questions of how the moai statues were made and especially how the people of the island were able to move those huge stone sculptures, which today are the hallmark of Easter Island. Theories have even been said that the only way they could carry those giant stone throughout the island, it was with the help of beings from other worlds.
No matter what the theory by which you feel more inclined, when you travel around the island, learn more about their history, know the beliefs and traditions that shaped the Rapa Nui culture and you interact with their people, you can not help feeling a growing fascination and a desire to know more and more about this wonderful place and, why not, develop your own theories.
Rapa Nui, an amazing culture
The ahu is the representative ceremonial center of Easter Island. Its platforms stand out, which are of various types, but the most spectacular are the so-called ahu moai, built to display the moai or the giant statues that represent the ancestors. Read more »
The moais or Easter Island statues represent the most important pieces of Rapa Nui art and they have become its trademark. But, there are many questions to solve. Read more »
The pukao is an ornament, made of red scoria from the crater of Puna Pau, which was placed on the head of the statues of the most important ceremonial platforms of Easter Island. Read more »
Religion and beliefs
The Easter Island inhabitants’ life, as well as in Polynesian cultures, was organized around their religion and spiritual beliefs. These beliefs and their evolution significantly affected the course of history. Read more »
Myths and legends
The fact that Rapa Nui culture and history hasn’t been completely unraveled has made the myths and legends about Easter Island very relevant. Read more »
The Tangata Manu or Birdman ceremony probably initiated in the 18th century in honor of the Make Make god and lasted until the arrival of the Catholic missionaries in 1866. Read more »
Easter Island symbols
Learn about the origin and meaning of the symbols that make up the iconography of Easter Island and that have transcended history to become an inspiration for artisans and a tourist attraction. Read more »
Rongo Rongo scripture, or kohau rongo rongo as the natives call it, is a scripture system consisting of glyphs carved on Wood or tablets, which to this day have yet to be deciphered. Read more »
Rapa Nui Language
The current native population on Easter Island is bilingual, easily speaking both Spanish and Rapa Nui, which is the language commonly used by the islanders in their colloquial and family settings. Read more »
Music and dances
Most of the Rapa Nui music and dance that can currently be found in Easter Island is of Polynesian origin.
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Traditional rapa nui clothing has evolved throughout history and has incorporated designs and customs from other cultures that have given rise to the typical costume of Easter Island and the daily way of dressing that we know today. Read more »
Takona Rapa Nui
Takona is the ancient art of decorating bodies with natural pigments. This practice, formerly used in rites and ceremonies, has recently been revitalized, especially during the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival. Read more »
Rapa Nui Tattoos
Like in other Polynesian islands, tattoos and body painting are artistic manifestations of the Rapa Nui culture. Read more »
Tapati Rapa Nui Festival
The Tapati Rapa Nui festival, which literally means “Rapa Nui week”, is the most important cultural festival in Easter Island, and it is celebrated every year during the first two weeks of February. Read more »