The Rapa Nui is a living language that belongs to the Polynesian subgroup of the large family of Austronesian languages. In this language the same morphological element can fulfill the functions of a noun, adjective or verb. And the grammatical categories of gender, number, tense, are expressed by prefixes and suffixes. Its use is oral and customary.
It is based on agriculture, supplemented by marine products (small molluscs and fish, mainly tuna). This activity, which should be more important during prehistoric times-was done with nets, lienzas, traps and hooks of bone, wood and stone. Different varieties of yams and sweet potatoes, taro, bananas, sugar cane, among other species brought by the first settlers of the island were cultivated species. Also useful plants and ornaments as pumpkins, Ngaoho the pua and pious and several species of trees. The Rapa Nui faced several difficulties in implementing its economic system: the rains are very variable and alternately causing floods and droughts, the soil is not very favorable to the crop, as there are rocks under a thin layer of fertile soil.
To overcome these difficulties and protect plants retain soil moisture, implemented the manavai or underground gardens.According to legend was the Ariki Hotu Matua who organized the lands of the island deslindándolas radially, giving every family access to the resources of each ecological zone. The places where scarce goods such as stone quarries, were were in common use. The means to work the land is characterized by extreme simplicity was the akaúve, a thick crossbar used to open large holes and oka, they post shorter and thinner used to clean the land of pastures, ridging and planting those crops that do not require deep holes.
Apart from plant resources, early settlers brought domestic fowl. In light of the stories and precision that characterizes the terminology regarding domestic poultry, it follows that their upbringing represented an especially important activity for the islanders. Over time, the population of the island increased and specialized in non-productive tasks such as increasing construction of monumental buildings. To obtain cultivable land, cut and burned the original vegetation, bringing disastrous consequences for soil and water. The lack of trees affected all areas of life rapa nui: food preparation difficult, the outputs of the island and the transport to the Ahu Moai.
Shortly before the year 690 AD, the production of an economic surplus allowed the beginning of a monumental religious architecture in the coastal sector: Ahu. They are characterized by a pattern of ramps with side wings and pavement beach rocks, aligned around a flat, elongated central platform, filled with gravel. Above this lie the Moai, alone or in rows of up to fifteen, but are absent in the later ahu. These huge stone statues correspond to images of ancestors. Each bears the name of the person it represents. You were almost completely carved in the quarries located on the slopes of volcanoes, before being transported to their final destination. Apparently, they were molted horizontal head out by a network of roads that bordered almost the entire coastline.
Whereas a lot of statues still is found in quarries or on its periphery, one might think that the transport process was the part that presented difficulties. Once at the Ahu, Moai were gradually placed upright on the platform. The most complex engineering project was surely to dispose of Moai heads cylindrical blocks of red hats worn as slag. The sculptural activity was apparently the result of several independent teams, suggesting the existence of an internal competition.
Rapa Nui culture has a wide range of other art forms, including figurines that were obtained from the wood of Toromiro: the Moai Moai Pa'apa'a Kavakava and Hiro. Were copies of spirits called Akuaku and were considered sacred. There is also a wide variety of ornaments and figures used in festive ceremonies. Highlights include wood carvings of fish and lizards and bird-men or Rona. Also used perfumes, tattoos, body painting and earlobe are dilated as a sign of prestige. Also possessed a kind of writing, not yet well understood, using signs engraved on tablets called Kohau Rongorongo. They "wrote" hymns, feats and facts and stories of major characters and perhaps historical genealogies. Only a few scholars and specialists, called Maori could read them.
Today there is a small number of these Panels and its real content is unknown. Another important art form rock carvings are very abundant in the island and in low relief on rocks designs of fish, birds, turtles, boats, human figures with big eyes, the bird man, the god Make Make were reflected, etc. . Many of these motifs are repeated in wall paintings inside the houses as well as in other parts of Polynesia (Hawaii, Marquesas Islands or New Zealand, for example).
Hotu Matua Henua Ariki was the first king of the land or Rapa Nui, but broadly Ariki were also the queen, princes and nobles.This elite also possessed 'of a political power, a magical one - the Manna, which was to grow the fruits and animals of the earth and sea. Inside the royal family the children jerarquizaban by birthright. Each of the descendants of Hotu Matua constituted different groups, called Mata, who had a chief persons of rank, different social classes and specialization of activities: a military commander, police, teachers, priests, house builders, sculptors , farmers, fishermen, etc.. Historical sources distinguished 12 major semi independent groups. Each Mata, in turn, are divided into clans with a clearly defined and prohibited individuals belonging to another clan area. In this area lived and exercised their economic activities. In the early days of civilization Rapa Nui no major intergroup conflicts, but because of the demographic crisis, they would have appeared and gradually worsened until finishing in a total war.
Beliefs and Funerary
Rapa Nui has a rich tradition that began with the legendary story of its settlement. The Ariki Hotu Matua community would have been forced from Hiva, island of origin, by a rising sea, a volcanic eruption or other cataclysm that possibly reflects the presence of serious internal conflicts. In dreams, the priest would have visited Hau Maka virgin territory favorable to human settlement. The king sent an expedition in search. The seven men who composed it, recognizing in Rapa Nui to the indications given by the priest. On receiving the news of the veracity of the information given by the priest, Hotu Matua undertook the journey to their community in two canoes. The first work of Ariki Rapa Nui were in the organization and distribution of land for housing and cultivation.
King was a unifying character and his peaceful reign. At his death began to surface land conflicts that ended with a revolution to change all aspects of social life Rapa Nui. There was a cultic change and a reformulation of burial practices.
In the first period, was organized around the cult of the ancestors, the Moai represented. Then, burst worship Manutara or birdman, where the most important ceremony was that of Tangata Manu. This had a religious character in the classical period, but later formed a political event: a type of competition where the leaders or their representatives competed for the first egg of the sacred bird Manutara a nearby island and take center intact meeting . The winner received the title of matatoa and ruled for a year. Apparently, the group to which belonged the victor enjoyed certain privileges, such as plunder others. Regarding funebria, in the classical period the bodies were buried in the Ahu-Moai. These would have been destroyed between 1740 and 1840 as a result of infighting. With violence a period where the bodies were buried in Ahu 'without Moai' or tombs built on the ruins of Ahu, Moai, under the fallen statues of thick layers of stones arranged in the form of elongated pyramid and asymmetric began .
The earliest occupation dates indicate Rapa Nui human presence for nearly 100 years AD It was Hotu Matua who led the first migration to Rapa Nui, the Momok of Hanau, from somewhere in Polynesia,. Then the island received a second wave of men, eepe of Hanau. On the death of Hotu Matua, gradually began to appear conflicts generated by the association of a high population pressure and scarcity of natural resources. The culminating point was a crisis of classical culture of Rapa Nui, translated into a revolution against the elite group of Ariki and religious activities that represented them. The social reorganization led intergroup conflicts, cannibalism and destruction-Moai Ahu.
With the arrival in 1722 of the Dutch navigator Roggeveen Jakov, Rapa Nui began its historic phase, the contact and acculturation to Western society. Until 1833, contacts with Europeans were limited to the coastal area and is characterized by the exchange of goods (such as chickens, water and vegetables mainly in exchange for items of wood, metal, etc..) And sex trafficking with women. During this time, Rapa Nui society was in decline, food was scarce and there was a high degree of internal conflict. In addition, in 1862, part of the Rapa Nui were excalvizados and transferred to Peru, a situation which eventually reduce the population by more than 50%.
Between 1864 and 1872, contacts with Europeans were systematic and from the installation of two French religious missions on the island. This entailed changes: gradually replaced the old Catholic worship practices, the population of the island was concentrated, traditional territorial division collapsed, the production system disintegrated and land ownership is concentrated in foreign hands and was allocated to livestock. Easter population was reduced to 175 people who became tenants.
In 1888, Captain Policarpo Toro takes formal possession of Rapa Nui on behalf of Chile. Government officials and three settler families were sent, contacts with French Polynesia decrease and Europeans residing on the island left. However, the island is completely abandoned by the Chilean political spheres. The island economy again based on traditional agriculture and fishing activities and many islanders returned to live in their ancestral lands. In 1892, the Treasury signed a lease for land and public goods with a French citizen in 1895 and installed on the island, Merlet and Co.., Rapa Nui becoming a sheep farm, reiniciéndose through this livestock system abuse and poverty for local people. In 1953, Rapa Nui administration passed the Chilean Navy, the situation is regularized island and begins a phase of infrastructure development and contact with the outside world.
Scientific expeditions such as Thor Heyerdahl and William Mulloy reintroduced to Rapa Nui in their past and interest in their cultural heritage, revitalizing the craft industry. The islanders began to demand and acquire greater rights. Beginning in 1965, the opening of the island to the outside world thanks to improved communications, the growing influx of foreigners and important migratory movements between Easter, the continent and extends Tahiti. The traditional family context today has been reinvigorated, being able to see the world as key to cultural continuity Rapa Nui. Tourism has become the centerpiece of the island's economy. Currently 4647 individuals ascribe to ethnic Rapa Nui, representing 0.67% of the country's Indians.
Were located in coastal areas and in the interior, are occurring differences in the pattern of settlement. Coastal areas, at least in the south of the island is characterized by the presence of large ceremonial centers, Ahu focus of religious, socio-economic and political organization of each lineage during the first period Rapa Nui. At a distance of 100-200 m facing these, Hare paenga, living rooms where the elite of society were located. Its size in some cases reached 40 m long and 4 m wide. Inland Island homes where he lived most of the members of the lineage meeting were extended families. Its housing units were rectangular and circular were isolated. Each has lithic workshops, stockyards and the presence of small circular structures probably related to some type of crop. Associated with these buildings caves with very small rooms used as inputs probably are. Both settlements, inland and coastal, were contemporaries and should have worked as interrelated units.