Rapa Nui people / Male Figure / late 18th-early 19th centuryRapa Nui people
Male Figure
late 18th-early 19th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Pacific; Polynesian
Creator Name-CRT: Rapa Nui people
Title: Male Figure
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1766
Creation End Date: 1833
Creation Date: late 18th-early 19th century
Creation Place: Rapa Nui
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, bone, obsidian
Dimensions: H. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1984.526
Credit Line: Gift of Faith-Dorian and Martin Wright in honor of Livio Scamperle, 1984
Rights: http://www.metmuseum.org/

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is best known for its monumental stone images, but the Polynesian sculptors of this remote island also created smaller, wooden figures. Among the rarest of these are the "moai tangata," stocky male figures with somewhat oversized heads, which may depict important human ancestors. Less than a dozen moai tangata are known to exist. Because much of Rapa Nui culture and religion was destroyed through slave raids and missionary activity in the 1860s, little is known of the precise nature or use of these enigmatic images. Wooden images were generally kept in the home, where they may have been used for private devotion. Some examples have holes at the back of their necks and may have been worn as pendants during harvest celebrations. The significance of the mythical creatures that appear in place of hair on the scalps of this and other wooden images is unknown.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1984.526
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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