The Quarry of the Moai

Nearly 400 stone remains are found within and on the outside of the crater.  Some are standing, while others lie almost finished or only half finished, and yet others are broken on the road to a platform that they never reached. 

The ancient volcano named Rano Raraku (“furrowed hill”) is 150 meters (490 feet) high and is inactive for many millennia, but was the scene of a titanic master work.  

The stylized aesthetic of the classic Moai (statues) of Rano Raraku is different from the more natural and rough features of those which are on the platforms.  The classic Moai has phallic connotations and shows elongated ears with, in many cases, discs inserted in the lobes as was used by the legendary Hanau Eepe (heavy-set men), who, according to certain theories, comprised a second wave of immigration to Te Pito o te Henua.   According to other ideas, this was a tribe which arrived together with the legendary king, Hotu Matua. 

The sculptors began their work on a vertical rock wall until they formed a complete figure with all of its characteristics. Finally, they cut the statue free from the “keel” which connected it to the rock and the Moai slid down the mountainside into a hole dug on the lower slope, where the back was finished and it was prepared for transport.  Many unfinished Moai can be seen in the quarry, including one which measures more than 20 meters (65.5 feet).  On the slope of the northern side of Rano Raraku, there is a unique statue which appears to be kneeling, a typical pose for ceremonial singers.  This statue is named Tukuturi (“the kneeling one”) and is supposed to be the oldest Moai on Rapa Nui, dating to the epoch of the first settlers.

The transport of the Moai is another unresolved enigma.  There are many theories but no agreement to date.  Four roads of approximately 10 meters (33 feet) in width, but with an active use area of 5.5 meters (18 feet), were built to move the Moai from the quarry at Rano Raraku to their different destinations throughout the Island.