• Hoa Hakananai'a

    This is a really mysterious statue.

    It comes from Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, a small island famous for giant stone figures called moai.

    This statue has its own name: Hoa Hakananai'a, which means 'stolen or hidden friend'.

    Easter Island is mainly grassy, with steep cliffs and extinct (dead) volcanoes.

    Nowadays it is part of the country of Chile, and its local name is Rapanui.

    The name 'Easter Island' came from a Dutch sea captain named Jacob Roggeveen, who landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722.

    In 1774, the English explorer Captain James Cook visited the island and his ship's artist, William Hodges, painted its statues, some wearing 'hats' of reddish rock.

    Who made these giants, and why?

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  • One of many

    This statue is now in the British Museum, and was collected in 1868 by the crew of the British ship HMS Topaze.

    It weighs about 4 tons, so moving it was hard work; it was dragged to the beach and floated out to the ship on a raft, the sea washing off most of its original red and white paint.

    It's one of more than 280 figures, and about 600 others were never finished.

    Many of the statues end at the hips, and show men with long ears, and deep eye sockets that possibly once had coloured eyes.

    The biggest figures are giants 20 metres tall and weighing 50 tons or more.

    Cut from volcanic rock, the statues were stood on stone platforms to form a ring around the island, facing inland.

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  • Home and away

    When this statue left for Britain, Easter Island had been badly affected by human action and environmental changes.

    Raiders had carried off hundreds of people as slaves; others died of diseases, and farming had deforested the landscape.

    By 1877, there were only 111 islanders left. The ancient beliefs faded, leaving only half-remembered stories about the giant statues, and why they were once important.

    Experts think the stone men probably represented dead ancestors, and were important in the old island religion.

    Settlers from Polynesia first landed on Easter Island in canoes about AD 400, but the statues were made later, between AD 1000 and 1600, when the island was ruled by kings.

    There followed changes to religious beliefs during which the old ancestor-beliefs, and the statues, were toppled. The last statues were toppled in the 1860s.

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Fun Facts
  • On Easter Island, people built houses shaped like boats. To make the house-frame, they stuck wooden poles into holes on stone bases.

  • Easter Islanders built stone chicken houses. They built stone lookout towers, to spot approaching boats or shoals of fish.

  • Every year, the islanders raced to be first to collect an egg from the seabird colony on a tiny island close by. The winner became egg-champion.

  • One story tells of a war on Easter Island, fought between 'short-ears' and 'long-ears'.

  • Easter Island's history is told in stories. These were only half-remembered when first told to foreign visitors, and many are now forgotten.

  • Easter Island is a dot in a vast ocean. The closest island with people living on it is Pitcairn, 1700 kilometres away!

  • The Pacific Ocean is the world's largest and deepest ocean. About half of all the sea water on Earth is in the Pacific.

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