Aku-Aku Eclipse

Easter Island

July 11th, 2010

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Orongo Ceremonial Village

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S187.jpg

2010-07-12 18:27 UTC Click images for enlargements.

The Orongo Village was the focus of the birdman cult which was established in the island in the 18th and 19th centuries in an attempt to restore the society after the collapse of the moai culture. Clans would gather at the village each year, and their champions would compete in a kind of triathalon which culminated in swimming out to the islands above to collect the first egg of the sooty tern. The winner would be designated birdman for the year, and his clan would rule, putting an end to the clan warfare that so ravaged the island beforehand. It seems odd, but I'm sure islanders of the epoch would find the way present-day societies choose their leaders equally quaint.

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S188.jpg

2010-07-12 18:30 UTC

During the ceremonies, clans would live in these bunker-like houses, with an entrance for each clan. Like the boat houses, these were used only for sleeping. Many were torn down by archaeologists and subsequently reconstructed, and it is believed the entrances were originally larger and reduced in size in the reconstruction to avoid people getting inside and messing things up.

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S189.jpg

2010-07-12 18:34 UTC

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S190.jpg

2010-07-12 18:37 UTC

There are numerous petroglyphs at Orongo, many with the birdman motif. The largest collection is visible only by standing on the roof of one of the fragile rock houses, so you have to wait your turn since only five people are allowed up there at a time.

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S191.jpg

2010-07-12 18:42 UTC

Eclipse 2010 gallery image S192.jpg

2010-07-12 18:42 UTC

by John Walker
July 20th, 2010
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This document is in the public domain.