Making Monuments on Rapa Nui: The Statues from Easter Island

Investigating the ancient stone statues of Rapa Nui in the Pacific.

This exhibition is based on new research by University of Manchester archaeologist, Professor Colin Richards, who recently completed revelatory new fieldwork on the island. While the statues have drawn academic interest ever since the Dutch visited Rapa Nui in 1722, previous archaeologists have neglected to explore the bright red scoria pukao – or top-knots – which adorn the moai monuments.

The display in Manchester explores how the statues and their top-knots were made, as well as how they were quarried and transported across the island, and the role they played in the lives of the community. It also charts the ceremonial and spiritual associations of the statues – which represented the faces of deified ancestors and the repositories of sacred spirits – and the meanings of the ceremonial platforms (or ahu) on which the moai stood.

Moai Hava, an original statue collected on Rapa Nui in 1868 is on loan from the British Museum.

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The Puna Pau ​volcanic crater has been partially reconstructed for the exhibition, based on the results of recent excavations. It provides insight into the amazing achievement of the islanders, who removed over 1000 cubic metres of scoria from the crater with stone hand-held tools.


Venue details

Manchester Museum The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester Greater Manchester M13 9PL 0161 275 2648 www.manchester.ac.uk/museum

Entry details

Free entry to all
Free exhibitions to all

Daily, 10am – 5pm
Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan