Designs & Motifs of Easter Island's Rock Petroglyph Carvings
Over 4000 petroglyphs have been documented on Easter Island, with a variety of motifs. There are also several thousand cupules, or small carved hollows usually 3 to 5 cms in diameter, which usually act as decorative elements around the petroglyph panels. Most of the petroglyphs are carved in bas relief, and in some instances were painted, particularly with pigments of red and white.
Aside from the sacred site of Orongo with its plethora of rock carvings, other sites around Easter Island contain some amazing designs-and many are of considerable size. One great panel is ten meters long.
The Swiss anthropologist Alfred Métraux, remarked that the panel proves the existence of a fully developed tradition of design on Easter Island. There is, in fact, nothing equal to it in all of Polynesia. It can be assumed with confidence that a myth or legend accompanied this remarkable work of art.
Another popular rock art motif on Easter Island is the canoe shape. The best examples of canoe motifs are carved on dense lava, some of which was subsequently cut out for paenga (worked stone for structures). These sites are located at Ahu Ra'ai near La Perouse Bay. Presumably, these petroglyphs mark a place of myth or ritual probably related to kingship legends for it was a ruling chief who had control over such things as great sea-going watercraft. Ahu Ra'ai's canoes are unique in that many of them have a very specifically shaped extension: a vertical line with curved elements at eah end. This distinct form is repeated numerous times at this site, sugeesting that it contained explicit symbolic content for the people of Easter Island. The major panal at Ra'ai is 12m long and contains many sea forms, as well as canoes, cupules and fishhooks.
The major canoe panal at Ra'ai near La Perouse Bay
→ Easter Island Introduction
→ Sentinels in Stone - Rise & Fall of Easter Island's Culture | Page | 1 | 2 | 3 |
→ The Rock Art of Easter Island
→ The Birdman Cult / Motif of Easter Island
→ Sea & Marine Creatures in Easter Island Rock Art
→ Designs & Motifs of Easter Island's Rock Petroglyph Carvings
→ Dr Georgia Lee - Publications on Easter Island
→ Moai Location Map & Islanders
→ Contemporary Easter Island Art
→ Easter Island Glossary
→ Easter Island Conclusion