Historic Moai statue to be returned to Easter Island
After being kept at a Chile museum since 1870, the sacred statue returned to its home place, over 3,000 kilometers from the coast.
After being placed in Santiago since 1870, a colossal Moai statue - one of the most iconic stone monuments from Easter Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - made its way back to its homeland on Monday.
This comes after years of campaigning to have it returned to Rapa Nui, the local name of the island.
Moai statues are monolithic human figures which date back to years between 1250 and 1500 A.D, and are symbols of religious and political leadership and power. To their sculpturers, the statues have magical and spiritual meanings hence why they are sacred to the Rapa Nui community.
The sculpture, which weighs 715 kg, will be transported to Valparaiso in Chile by truck, to have the monument naval-shipped to the island on a journey that will take five days time.
The decision is part of a campaign whose target is to return ancient monuments of religious, cultural or spiritual significance, particularly sacred and funerary objects to Rapa Nui.
“For the first time, a Moai will return to the island from the mainland,” said Consuelo Valdes, Chile’s minister of culture.
“Without a doubt, this is part of a work that as a ministry we began years ago with the return of various collections and ancestors to their homeland.”
Rapa Nui has over 1,000 stone statues of giant heads which have made it to UNESCO world heritage site status.
In Santiago, the capital of Chile, the Rapa Nui community honored the decision at the National Museum of Natural History, which still keeps two other smaller sculptures.
The statue, carved many hundred years ago, will be kept in the Padre Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum on the island.