The Rapa Nui people are the indigenous inhabitants of Easter Island. In fact, the original name of Easter Island was Rapa Nui. This Polynesian culture settled in this territory around A.D. 300. At first, this was a Stone Age society. However, between the 10th and 16th centuries, a culture rich in tradition emerged as settlements began to take place throughout the coastal region. Impressive sculpture and architecture was built that related to Rapa Nui mythology.
Currently, the Rapa Nui comprise about 60% of Easter Island’s total population. However, some of the Rapa Nui people also live in Chile. The main language of this group is Spanish, but there is a Rapa Nui language as well. As of 2002, there were about 3304 people still living in the Hanga Roa Chilean province of Easter Island, which is in the southern part of the island’s west coast. One interesting thing to note about this civilization is that for over a millennium there were no outside cultural influences.
The Rapa Nui society is world famous for the huge stone figures that they built, which were called moai. To date, these are a major attraction that bring people from all over the world to the Easter Islands to marvel at how and why these stone figures originated. Many experts believe that these figures represent sacred ancestors.
According to Rapa Nui cosmology, the sky represented light and the underworld represented dark. The people believed that a terrestrial realm called the kaingu separated and conjoined these realms. The various clan deities got their power from major gods called the atua.
The most important clan was called the Miru, and research suggests that the deities were the male god Tiki and an entity called Makemake. Makemake was the creator god of the Rapa Nui. Each clan had their own unique deities, and how highly ranked the clans were coincided with the deities status rankings.
Ancestral gods protected the body and soul during life and the afterlife and also protected personal property. They also helped by enticing migrating birds and fish to the island and growing crops by making soil fertile.
In addition to the moai, the Rapa Nui also built ceremonial shrines called ahu. Researchers believe that the ahu centers were where major ceremonies took place for occasions like births and deaths. When people died, the practice was to expose the person at the front of the ahu and then cremate them. Often the skulls were preserved, especially if it was a person from the highly ranked Miru clan. The Rapa Nui believed that these skulls increased crop fertility. Also sacrificial offerings to the gods took place in front of statues. Usually these offerings were chickens, lobsters, and turtles. However, some experts believe that human sacrifice also took place.
It is interesting to note that the pictographic writings of the Rapa Nui people still remain undeciphered. Clearly, there is a great deal more to be learned about this fascinating culture and its beliefs.
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PLASMA COSMOLOGY VS BIG BANG MYTHOLOGY EXPLAINED