Hoa Hakananai'a

Hoa Hakananai'a

Hoa Hakananai'a is a "moai" (Easter Island statue) housed in the British Museum in London. The name "Hoa hakanani'a" is from the Rapa Nui language; it means (roughly) "stolen or hidden friend." [Van Tilburg, J. A. "Hoa Hakananai'a (British Museum Press 2004), p.38] It was removed [Van Tilburg, Jo Anne. (2006). Remote Possibilities: Hoa Hakananai'a and HMS Topaze on Rapa Nui. British Museum Research Papers. ISBN 0861591585.] from Orongo, Easter Island on 7 November 1868 [Van Tilburg, J. A. "Hoa Hakananai'a (British Museum Press 2004), p.] by the crew of the English ship HMS "Topaze", and arrived in Portsmouth on 25 August 1869. [Van Tilburg, J. A. "Hoa Hakananai'a (British Museum Press 2004), p.7] In 2000 the statue was moved from its previous display in the Wellcome Trust Gallery to the new Great Court.


Whilst most "moai" were carved from easily worked tuff, Hoa Hakananai'a is one of just sixteen Moai that were carved from much harder basalt. [Van Tilburg, J. A. "Hoa Hakananai'a (British Museum Press 2004), p.45] It is 55 centimetres from front to back, [Van Tilburg, J. A. "Hoa Hakananai'a (British Museum Press 2004), p.45] 2.42 metres high and weighs "around four tons". [British Museum.org. [http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aoa/h/hoa_hakananaia.aspx Hoa Hakananai'a: Stolen or Hidden Friend] . Retrieved: 09.02.2008.]

Hoa Hakananai'a is a human torso and head, with shrunken arms. The ratio of the head to torso is about 3:5, giving the overlarge head which is typical for "moai". Originally the empty eye sockets would have had coral & obsidian eyeballs, and the body was painted red and white. However the paint was washed off during its removal from the island.


The statue has a "maro" carving around its waist. This is a symbolic loincloth of three raised bands, topped (at the back) by a ring of stone just touching the top band.

Its back is richly decorated with carvings relating to the island's Birdman cult. These include two birdmen with human hands and feet, but with frigatebird heads, said by the Rapanui people to suggest a family or sexual relationship.

Above these is a fledgling with its beak open. It is similar to the Birdman petroglyphs on Easter Island and relates to the "Manutara", a Sooty tern which heralded the annual return of the god Make-make. This bird is flanked by a pair of "'ao", ceremonial wooden paddles representing the male body. 'Ao were symbols of prestige bestowed on the year's reigning birdman. A third 'ao is carved into the rear of the left ear. The right ear has four vulvas, possibly indicating four influential female consorts, that "had the ear" of the birdman.

There are Y-shaped symbols at the top of the head (between the 'ao), the chin and under the "Maro".

ee also

* Rapa Nui mythology
* Moai
* British Museum


External links

* [http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aoa/h/hoa_hakananaia.aspx The British Museum's page on Hoa Hakananai'a]

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