Moai or moʻai (/ˈm./ (listen) MOH-eye; Spanish: moái; Rapa Nui: moʻai, lit.'statue') are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in eastern Polynesia between the years 1250 and 1500.[1][2] Nearly half are still at Rano Raraku, the main moai quarry, but hundreds were transported from there and set on stone platforms called ahu around the island's perimeter. Almost all moai have overly large heads, which comprise three-eighths the size of the whole statue and they have no legs. The moai are chiefly the living faces (aringa ora) of deified ancestors (aringa ora ata tepuna).[3] The statues still gazed inland across their clan lands when Europeans first visited the island in 1722, but all of them had fallen by the latter part of the 19th century.[4] The moai were toppled in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, possibly as a result of European contact or internecine tribal wars.[5]

Moai facing inland at Ahu Tongariki, restored by Chilean archaeologist Claudio Cristino in the 1990s
3D model, click to interact.

The production and transportation of the more than 900 statues[6][7] is considered a remarkable creative and physical feat.[8] The tallest moai erected, called Paro, was almost 10 metres (33 ft) high and weighed 82 tonnes (81 long tons; 90 short tons).[9][10] The heaviest moai erected was a shorter but squatter moai at Ahu Tongariki, weighing 86 tonnes (85 long tons; 95 short tons). One unfinished sculpture, if completed, would be approximately 21 m (69 ft) tall, with a weight of about 145–165 tonnes (143–162 long tons; 160–182 short tons).[11] Statues are still being discovered as of 2023.[12]

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