Published: March 19th 2010March 19th 2010
"Ancestor worship, represented in the great quantity of carvings of megalithic statues or moai, was one of the most outstanding aspects of Rapa Nui prehistoric culture, and its manifestations are spread all over the island.
However, from the XVI century, island society was leaving megalithism as political and religious expression, and replaced it for the cult to Make-Make god, closely related to fertility, spring and migratory seabirds.
(...) The small village of Orongo represent such a new historic stage.
It was an annual ceremony where chiefs of different tribes or their hopu (representative) competed to obtain the first egg of the manutara, Sooty Tern. This seabird arrived every spring to nest in Motu Nui islet. Near that time, groups coming throughout the island went to Orongo, where they carried out various events and prepared themselves for the competition.
Participants went down through the cliff and swam to Motu Nui staying there for days or weeks waiting for the arrival of the seabirds until one of the participants found an egg.
The participant returned to the village and was endowed as tangata-manu or birdman or the chief he represented received this position. The new tangata-manu was considered tapu, that is, sacred,
and lived in ceremonial reclusion for one year."
"Make-Make, the birdman cult's supreme deity, is said to have created the earth, sun, moon, stars and people, rewarded the good and punished the evil, and expressed this anger in thunder. (...) Make-Make is also credited with bringing the birds (...)"
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