Easter Egg and Mr. Tangata Manu

girl egg

(continued from Te-Pito-o-Te-Henua)

Have you heard about the myth of the Bird Man aka Tangata Manu?  It is quite a strange tale, and being the Taobabe that I am, any time I hear about some strange myth that existed in the far distant past, which continues to reverberate to this day, I am intensely curious and must find out more about it and how it came to be.

As history unfolds, those stories that go the distance, those myths which manage to survive into the far distant future, do so because they actually had a lasting impression on the people—they actually affected the people in a very big way.

Otherwise, it’s just another Gangnam Style dance which was so hugely popular in 2012 but will not even show up as a minor blip ten years from now.

The Tangata Manu is another one of those Easter Island secrets, but the difference is, it exists not just within the rocks or the geographic location of Te-Pito-o-Te-Henua, but within the memories and the oral traditions of the Rapa Nui people and their Bird Man Cult, the Tangata Manu, with its egg seeking heroes.

Tangata Manu

Easter Island has a strange custom called the Tangata Manu (bird-man) whereby once a year, a group of contestants would appoint a Hopu who would swim to Motu Nui and fetch the Egg.  Since it is a dangerous mission, Hopus were often killed either by sharks, drowning, or falling from the cliffs.  After the Egg has been collected, the Hopu would be allowed to remain in Motu Nui until he was rested enough to return and present the Egg to his patron.[1]

Now, if it was just some image carved on a rock that weighed tons, I could see that it might be some cool story to cultivate the strongest males for lineage purposes, but when I see images of the Moai Kavakava Ancestor, another thought pops in my head.

This is definitely not Moai head-looking in the least.  This looks like a tiny half-starved being with a head that looks similar to the moais, but so shrunken and emaciated, he could only be considered a tiny representation of the real Moai head.

Moai Kavakava Ancestor

moailittlemanTextAccording to ancient myths, these skeletal sculptures represent the moai kavakava, deified ancestral beings, bearers of knowledge, dispensors of wisdom and technology.

Worn hanging around the neck of the men who took part in the ritual dances during public ceremonies, they were shown to everyone with great pride. When they were not used, they were wrapped in bark cloth and kept at home.

The one shown here was lent to the Borgiano Museum of Propaganda Fide of Rome for the Missionary Exhibition of 1925 and subsequently donated to the Ethnological Missionary Museum.

~  Information taken from the Vatican Museum at http://mv.vatican.va [2]

So the tiny shrunken Moai Kavakava could possibly be carved representations of the huge granite statues found all over Easter island.


The large Moai heads are huge and bloated representation of the real Moai Kavakava, a small being standing less than a foot tall.

I don’t know which is the real deal, but here are more images of the carved Moai Kavakava.[3]


So let’s just say that the real Moais are these tiny people.  If this is the case, then the myth of the bird man completely makes sense!!!

(…to be continued)

[1] Tangata Manu

[2] Vatican Museums

[3] Moai Kavakava

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